MA FASHION JOURNALISM
Lara Grobosch’s writing is focused on the themes of sustainability, fashion business, and emerging designers as well as the intersection between fashion and technology. However, as Lara explains, ‘during my time at CSM, I also explored the question of whether fashion journalists have any choice but to turn themselves into brands to be successful in a fast and furious digital media world’. This is what Lara focused on for her work on show at the exhibition, and something Grobosch views as a challenge facing today’s young journalists, as she explains, ‘one big challenge will be the blurred boundaries of fashion journalism and social media influencing. The digitised world has turned us all into content creators, forcing journalists to turn themselves into personalities for the public to make a name for themselves’.
Riya Jain’s fashion journalism centres around emerging Indian designers, their representation within pop culture and the current trends within the Indian market. Riya was motivated to tackle this subject due to the disconnect she felt between the caricatured and much-satirised Indian stereotype and her own realities of India. Jain explains, ‘the cities, especially Bombay, have a thriving market for homegrown fashion, artists, musicians and all sorts of creatives. There isn’t a full 180 shift yet but there is a lot of progress’. In her undertaking of the MA fashion journalism course, Riya has learnt to be resilient, ‘new city, new life and all of this away from friends and family were just too much happening too soon’, she says, ‘but I really feel like it helped me get confident in a way where I can now tell myself that if I really want it, I can make it work with or without a lot of help’.
The journalism of Hitanshi Kamdar seeks to dissect fashion phenomena through ‘a social and cultural perspective while focusing on highlighting Indian homegrown talent’. This is achieved by tapping into popular culture and examining it through a critical lens. Hitanshi explains, ‘when I moved to London, I instinctively found myself turning to my culture and heritage almost as a security blanket. The fact that South Asian voices are still trying to break into the mainstream fashion conversation is astounding and I wanted to uncover and explore topics that connected local talent to a wider world. I’ve also been interested in what shapes pop culture moments and trends in the world around us and exploring them through an involved feminist perspective seemed exciting to me’. Hitanshi, alongside many of her classmates, appreciated the course’s shift to include copywriting, describing it as ‘often more stable and lucrative’.
Kanika Talwar’s writing focuses on the extent to which fashion criticism can be truly honest in the digital age, and whether or not there still exists a position for the fashion critic in the contemporary fashion landscape as traditional fashion media slowly dies out. ‘I look at whether there is or ever was such a thing as a ‘free fashion press’’, Talwar explains, ‘my research highlights the dangers of silencing critics who disagree’. Think Kanye’s recent evisceration of critic Gabrielle Karefa-Johnson for her critique of the recent Yeezy show, for example. Kanika continues on this point, ‘it’s a very dangerous time to be a journalist’, she stresses, ‘many journalists have been doxxed, fired, and much more for doing their job’. Reflecting on her hopes for the future, Talwar seeks to keep going. Having already been published in V Magazine, Paper, PopSugar and Fashionista, Kanika hopes that ‘more people take fashion journalism seriously’, because after all, ‘fashion is a reflection of the times we live in’.
Alice Lindsell describes her work as focused ‘on the intersection of fashion and feminism, emerging talent in the industry, and fashion in film’. The inspiration for her writing comes from the genuine appreciation she holds for fashion, ‘I get so much joy from style and clothes and, especially since being at CSM this year, I think some of the most exciting work right now is coming from what new creatives are contributing to the industry’. Speaking of CSM, the exhibition booklet contains a short excerpt of Alice’s piece titled Style notes from CSM, which chronicles various looks observed during a morning walk through the school. In terms of fashion and film, Alice believes far little attention is paid to the topic, an often overlooked yet crucial element. Lindsell’s distaste for performative feminism within much of the fashion media has led her to seek out ‘publications and creatives that are producing critical and nuanced work’. The bubble of fashion school is often a stark contrast to the reality of the fashion journalism industry, and as Alice explains, ‘going from that to trying to get a writing job when they are so few and far between I think will be difficult’. Despite this, Lindsell reminisces on her time spent at St Martin’s, ‘All the designers and creatives I’ve interviewed this year, as well as everyone I’ve met through CSM, make me so excited to see where fashion is going next. Their work is beautiful, fresh, and innovative’.
Nina Maria’s writing is focused on the ideas behind clothing, subcultures, youth, and the ‘submergence of art and fashion’. Nina explains further, ‘with clothes, I always loved how they made me feel. When I grew up, I was constantly body-shamed for my weight, but my favourite dresses always made me feel confident and beautiful, even though the world seemingly didn’t approve of them. When I write about clothes, I write about ideas and emotions. I want to know how they feel. I want to know how they shape our identity’. Looking to the future, Nina ‘would love to be a fashion critic or writer, help with research for design houses and work with organisations who support young designers’. Maria has a true adoration for clothing, and a deep passion for young and talented designers, as she explains, ‘sometimes a sketchbook can be as intimate as a diary. I love this’.
Shiphrah Lynette Parry
Shiphrah Lynette Parry’s work centres around her exploration of ‘sensibilities of life in all forms’ as she explains, ‘with a personal lens that focuses on life as a ‘luxury entity’’. For Shiphrah, the biggest challenge of being a young journalist is finding her position within the industry and crucially, not underselling herself, she continues, ‘also, a big thing is drawing a line between my personal and professional life. I always strongly believed that I didn’t want a line […] but I’ve quickly learned that the blue is not a black to be. Don’t get lost in the sauce kids’. It seems Lynette Parry is living her dream when quizzed on what excited her most for the future, ‘It’s what I dreamt of as a little girl. I made it’. Shiphrah doesn’t see herself exclusively going down the journalism path; ‘I lean heavily towards fashion marketing, PR, and lifestyle journalism’.
Eva Pramschüfer’s approach to fashion journalism is centred around the telling of stories, ‘highlighting marginalised communities and coming as close to the “truth” as possible’. Having already had her words featured in Another Magazine, Vice, Elle and Wonderland, among others, Pramschüfer explains that writing ‘has always been my way to make sense of the world, when I found out that I could make it into a career, I knew that’s what I wanted to do’. As with many who take on the MA Fashion Journalism course, learning to deal with rejection is something that has become second nature to Eva, ‘pitching has felt like screaming into a void sometimes, and that can really take a toll on your confidence’, she adds. Pramschüfe’s niche within fashion journalism falls at the intersection of fashion and politics, in particular social justice topics, ‘that’s what I am passionate about’, Eva muses, ‘We are in such pivotal times and I want to be a part of the change’.
Pablo Roa’s work concerns the gay legacy of men’s fashion magazines, something that was spurred by his upbringing in Mexico City, when he would frequently visit bookstores and ‘head directly to the magazines’ section, pretend to browse kids and science titles, before reaching for the ones at the very top and back of the shelf. The gay magazines’. However Roa explains, men’s magazines, although not explicitly queer, sparked something in him, and lead him to question how masculinities are symbolically produced within the pages of these magazines, such as GQ. In the words of Roa, ‘before Abercrombie & Fitch catalogues, Calvin Klein billboards, or Ralph Lauren foldout ads, there were the pages of men’s fashion magazines. On his future in fashion writing: Roa is excited by ‘the never-ending possibilities within the industry. The closeness to the clothes. The ability to talk to designers and people working in fashion. And to keep learning. On and on’.
Melanie Solari’s journalism comprises of a mixture of articles that ‘celebrate and shed light on untold narratives and talent’, she explains further, ‘from my Angolan heritage, highlighting African and black talent, to the influence of TikTok on retail and emerging creatives who are using images to represent their communities’. Solari’s work is rooted in writing in order to reflect particular communities, highlighting talented people who have slipped under the radar of the mainstream fashion media, writing, for Melanie, is a medium she uses to showcase marginalised stories. On her hopes for the future, Melanie explains, ‘As a 22-year-old with little experience in the industry, I feel like I would need to work a lot harder to prove my worth and my talent and show people that there is a reason why I’m in the fashion industry in the first place. Also as a black journalist, I don’t want to be behind the scenes. I want to have a well-deserved seat at the table with everyone else. I don’t want to be hired and seen as the token ‘Black girl’. I want to be recognised for my ability to write good articles and not solely because I’m another Black person in the industry who looks good for companies and brands who are ‘promoting’ diversity and inclusivity. I would say that is my biggest fear’.
Alice May Stenson
For Alice May Stenson, fashion journalism is a practice rooted in the uplifting of overlooked voices and the study of subcultures that have slipped through the crack. As Stenson explains, ‘generally, I’ve never quite fitted in. I suppose I’m trying to pave the way for others who see no route ahead. I grew up in an industrial fishing town called Redcar on the North East coast, my mum used to be a punk, and my dad is a steelworker. Education was all very geared towards labour and engineering, and I was the creative kid with this boundless imagination’. During her time on the course, Alice has written about topics including her own heritage, goths and the fetishisation of punk. Alice is cautiously optimistic about the future, she notes our existence within ‘a crumbling media landscape’, yet is clearly fuelled by fashion journalism, ‘I see interviewing as a tool to pick the brains of brilliant individuals. I’m the biggest nerd going, so I want to expand my mind in all directions, and having that chance to learn excites me. Equally, writing can be used to shine a light on hidden talent. Being a stepping stone in the journey of somebody else’s success is, I would imagine, incredibly rewarding’
Tony Wilke’s writing is rooted in the question of what it means to have a gay life. Asked why? ‘I don’t know the answer’, explains Tony. His article explains a little further, ‘gays have never been given a script so we’ve made, instead, our own way of seeing; our own passions, tastes, histories, gods, gestures, moods, our own songs’, according to Wilkes, what it means to be gay is rooted somewhere in these ‘chains of connections’, as he calls them. On his experience of the course, he was initially struck by what his course leader refers to as ‘radical candour’, but came round to it upon realising that within the real world the chances to get such brutally honest feedback on writing are extremely scarce. In terms of the challenges Tony sees for his future, aside from keeping up his art writing; ‘probably getting up early’.