Fashion editors hold an iconic role in the world of fashion. They are often portrayed in film and television as powerful, larger-than-life characters, but have you wondered what a real-life fashion editor job is like?
In this article, we describe what fashion editors do and how to become one. We also describe some of the most noteworthy fashion editors you should know about.
A fashion editor is a mid- to high-level position responsible for shaping and generating fashion-related content for a newspaper, magazine, show or website. They curate material, create narratives and oversee the production of articles that reflect the company’s image or inspire new narratives and push boundaries.
Fashion editors often specialise in a niche, such as cosmetics or apparel, and they can work in in-house positions or as freelancers. As fashion editors move up in the field, they gain more responsibility, eventually supervising pitches, creating plans and managing other editors.
Alongside the creative director, the fashion editor-in-chief of a company is one of the highest positions in the industry. They mould the concept and direction of the brand and are responsible for the overall publication.
The day-to-day responsibilities vary depending on seniority level and speciality, but some duties are universal in the fashion editor job description. Writing and editing are a big part of what fashion editors do, and they also spend time pitching ideas, developing storylines, writing content, proposing layouts and working on photo shoots.
Much of their work is collaborative, meaning they often work closely with photographers, writers, editors and designers. Senior fashion editors have more management responsibilities than those just starting out, including supervising other editors and writers and making sure that publications are completed accurately and time.
It’s important for fashion editors to stay up to date on the world of fashion in general because their content has to appeal to audiences and can also influence industry-wide trends. This means that fashion editors spend a lot of time building networks and relationships and travelling to important industry events.
One of the most common paths to becoming a fashion editor is by starting out in writing or publishing. Many fashion editors obtain a degree in journalism or professional writing, and by focusing on fashion-related topics, they move into the realm of fashion editing. However, it’s also possible to start out in other fashion fields, such as merchandising, advertising, styling or designing, and gain writing experience along the way.
If you’re interested in fashion editor jobs, regardless of the path you take, it’s vital to build up the necessary skills and experience. This means you’ll need to have writing or publishing experience in addition to deep knowledge of your niche in the fashion world. You might also need to complete an internship to break into the field, as fashion publications generally look for editors who already have experience and a portfolio to demonstrate previously published work.
1. Develop strong writing skills and a unique voice. This key ability is the foundation of building a career in fashion editing. In addition to having a good grasp of grammar and narrative structure, you should also develop your own voice and style. If your writing is consistent, recognizable and powerful, you’ll have more luck landing a fashion editor role.
2. Learn how to anticipate trends and understand issues in your niche. Fashion editors must have a knack for knowing what content is right for the audience and publication, and journalistic experience will teach you how to find appropriate content and research leads. By keeping a pulse on the fashion world, you can develop timely stories that are informative and appealing.
3. Get management experience. If you can show employers that you know how to manage a team and delegate tasks, you’ll stand out among applicants and be more prepared to work as a fashion editor. If you work on communicating effectively, making tough decisions and handling tight deadlines, you’re moving towards building a fashion editing career.
4. Understand effective networking. Top fashion editors maintain extensive networks inside and outside the fashion world. They need to have contacts in many areas – whether for conducting interviews, getting published or gaining insight into a particular issue – so you should start building your in-person and online networks as soon as possible.
One of the most famous of all time is Diana Vreeland. Her fashion columns became wildly famous during the 1930s, shooting her into a prominent position in fashion editorials. During her long, prolific career, she served as editor of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogueand was known for her eccentric, sometimes bizarre, tastes.
Another iconic fashion editor is Anna Wintour of American Vogue. She’s served as editor-in-chief since 1988, and she is often referred to as the most influential person in the fashion world. Many believe she was the inspiration for Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, but far beyond that, she’s achieved notoriety for her discipline, business savvy and longevity, as she’s maintained her position as a gatekeeper in fashion throughout the transition from print to digital media.
Since the 1990s, Princeton graduate Robin Givhan has contributed to The Washington Post and many other publications as an editor and critic for fashion. In 2006, she won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, the first ever given to a fashion writer. For anyone interested in pursing fashion journalism, she’s a must-know.
Some of our other favourites include Carine Roitfeld, former editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris and current editor of CR Fashion Book, and Glenda Bailey, former editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar.
Being a fashion editor is an exciting, fast-paced career, so if you’re interested in writing and looking to make a name for yourself in fashion, you should consider pursuing fashion journalism.
If you’re interested in learning more about building a career in other areas of fashion, check out these articles:
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