A major part of fashion is fashion journalism. Journalists comment about the latest fashions on the runway, as well as on the red carpet. Fashion critique and commentary can be found in magazines, on TV, and now more recently even on the Internet. With many fashion magazines in India, there is a demand for fashion journalists. However, there is a dearth of fashion reviewers and critics. To excel in a job like this, people not only need creative writing skills, but also training in the techniques of news gathering and reporting with emphasis on the mechanics of expression, methods, editing, sources, objectivity and layout.
This must be complemented by a thorough knowledge of the subject, the technical and non-technical aspects. The journalist should also be up-to-date with international couture trends and styles. A fashion journalist would find employment with a newspaper, magazine or could even freelance. The money is good and depends on personal reputation in the industry.
By being a fashion journalist or a fashion writer one gets paid to write about fashion and Beauty, by having his/her bylines appearing in magazines and books. A fashion writer is the one who does fashion reporting or writes commentaries or books on new trends in the fashion and beauty industry. One may also choose to review new fashion and beauty products. Fashion journalists, with training in news gathering and reporting, write about fashion trends, fashion shows and fashion collections and exclusively cover newsmakers in the field. They may also be asked to provide photo features of the particular area they cover. A fashion photographer has to have an eye for aesthetics and no amount of technical training can make up for that inherent quality.
One can envision traveling to "fashion cities" like Paris, Milan, Tokyo and New York to attend fashion shows, meeting celebrities and crème of the society. While only a lucky few fashion writers can become best-selling authors and internationally syndicated columnists, it is possible to be successful in this field even if one doesn`t have any fashion background, or one does not have impeccable grammatical skill and even if one is unfamiliar with the fashion language. However, fashion journalists must have a keen interest in fashion trends. Some experience in fashion designing and/or merchandising is an added advantage. Fashion Photography requires a flair for fashion, an interest in style and a passionate involvement in anything to do with fashion. Technical instruction, in the formal sense, is not necessary. Most techniques can be learned by assisting other photographers.
A fashion journalist may choose to work as a freelancer or as a staff writer in a publication. Depending on the publication for which he/she is writing, there are several career pathways in this field that one can choose based on their strengths and interests. One is not restricted to work for glamorous fashion magazines. They may prefer to work as one of these:
Staff Writer or Editor
Press Release Writer
And the types of employer one can work with include:
Be your own boss (as a freelancer)
Fashion and/or beauty magazine publisher
Fashion and/or beauty newsletter publisher
Public relations firm
In order to be a fashion editor, one can get an internship and then go about pursuing the same as a career. One can get a summer internship or an after-school internship during the school year. While still in school or college, one can even go for an internship at a local newspaper or magazine in order to gain a job experience without too many hassles. The next step should be to investigate getting an internship at the absolute favorite magazine or newspaper. Some magazines and newspapers have programs for school students; others only hire college students. During summer break, many magazines hire hardworking college students who help put the magazine together! A few internships may be paid for, but some publications can only offer school credit. As an advice, one should take up the job - whether it pays or not! The experience one will get later on is priceless, since lots of entry-level editorial assistants are hired because editors get to know and respect them as interns.
Applying as an Intern
Firstly you have to decide as to which publication you would personally enjoy to work with. Then call the magazine or paper and find out who hires the interns. If each department hires their own interns, find out the name of the head of the department where you`d most like to work (for example: fashion, beauty, features, entertainment).
Write that person a letter saying when you`d like to intern and why you would like to intern.
Mention specific columns and say why you would be an asset to the publication.
After you send your letter, be sure to follow up. Magazine editors get really busy sometimes and can be hard to reach. One call every two weeks is advised.
In the meantime, write for your school and local newspaper if you can. Feel free to contribute ideas and suggestions to magazines.
Most importantly: one has to read a lot to be a journalist! You should get to know the personalities of the different magazines.
Hardcore magazine enthusiasts might want to consider applying to colleges for future education in Mumbai or any major metropolis. The great thing about going to college in the metros is that almost every major magazine surrounds you.
However, Indian Fashion Journalism has to address all aspects of the business of fashion and not just remain people centric. Fashion for most people is synonymous with style and sophistication. And for youngsters today, it represents a world of glamour and gloss. Fashion in India till now has failed to look at the more serious and relevant issues of the Industry and is restricted itself to the colourful and the glossy. Fashion journalism also needs to focus on reporting the news, like the state of domestic market, export markets, technology, retailing, global trends, regional flavours and situation analysis. It is equally important for industry players to spend more time with reporters giving industry information to them and the owners and editors of publications have an equally important role to play in taking fashion journalism to its next stage of evolution.