5 Tips We Learnt At VAMFF’s Fashion Writing Workshop

Frantically running into the theatre at Melbourne Museum, half an hour late for the VAMFF Writing Series Workshop due to a delayed flight, we couldn’t help but notice that not a single eye was distracted by our intrusion. So entranced were the audience by what Janice Breen Burns (highly respected fashion journalist and founder of Voxfrock.com) had to say, they weren’t bothered by the disruption caused by latecomers.

Throughout the five hour workshop, we learnt little gems of advice from influential fashion journalists like Alison Kubler (co-author of Art and Fashion in the Twentieth Century), Briony Wright (editor of i-D Magazine Australia and previous editor of Vice Australia), Clare Press (fashion editor-at-large at Marie Claire), as well as the previously mentioned Janice Breen Burns and a sneaky video podcast from Alison Veness-McGourty (editor of 10 Magazine).

Though we learnt countless little tips and tricks from these inspirational women, we’ve narrowed it down to the top five we felt were the most valuable.

Always take notes on your first impression of a designer’s collection.
Congratulations, you’ve finally earned yourself a seat at a designer’s runway show. It’s not all fun and games sitting runway ready though, and you’re going to have to work hard if you want to keep that coveted seat in seasons to come. Clare Press emphasises the importance of scribbling down little notes on your first impressions of a collection to save yourself from forgetting these thoughts and feelings later. Janice Breen Burns also gave us some hints on what to look out for in a collection, be it current trends, vintage or cultural influences, shape or styling. These notes will create the skeleton for a banging article later!

There’s always more to fashion than what it seems on the surface.
Fashion has always been a way for people to express who they are and protest against societal restraints. Briony Wright points out that fashion and politics go hand in hand, as does fashion and history, fashion and art etc. Observe a collection and try to dissect what subtle messages the designer is trying to communicate and make reference to them in your article. This will enable you to create a more complex and in-depth piece of fashion journalism.

Stick to Janice Breen Burns’ toolbox routine.
The Voxfrock founder broke down what she believes the foundations of being a good journalist are into nine easy points:

  1. Having good basic grammar
  2. Reading daily
  3. Constantly building your fashion library
  4. Having adept note taking skills
  5. Having efficient research skills
  6. Being accurate in your statements and references
  7. Having loads of friends in fashion
  8. Having loads of friends in photography
  9. Being passionate about fashion

If you make sure to live by this holy grail routine, you’re on your way to being a pretty spectacular journo!

Be political with your internships and job interviews.
When being interviewed for a position, do your research and know everything about the publication and who works there. When asked what your favourite publication is, say that one. When asked who inspires you as a journalist, name your interviewer (but make sure you can list a few articles they’ve written, otherwise you might be caught out!). Clare Press stresses the importance of not mentioning other publications or journalists, otherwise you might seem like you’d rather be applying for a position there.

Success is about building blocks.
Though all five of these women are wildly successful and respected fashion journalists, each of them worked hard over many years to create the careers they have. Janice Breen Burns believes that success doesn’t happen overnight, it’s about the building blocks you create over time. So stop stressing about your future in your 20s, and start focusing on accumulating as much experience and work as possible!

Image: Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival website

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