Lara Johnson-Wheeler: Can you tell me about your relationship with fashion? Are you interested in garment design? You write about your interest in objects and items – do you think about clothes in a similar way?
Durga Chew-Bose: My relationship with fashion is that I am a bit risk-averse and practical, not very dramatic. I am very much influenced by my mother, friends, and movies. I’m a visual person, so style, how people express themselves, how garments are made tell stories that are of deep interest to me. The character building that happens with dress is fascinating. Tactility and design bleed into my interests of film, objects, memory, which is central to my writing. When it comes to the fashion industry, I like paying attention to the artistry of it, first and foremost.
“I’m deeply interested in young and emerging designers. I love reading about them and discovering new voices that are trying to push the boundaries of the fashion industry, sustainability, and pedigree. ” – Durga Chew-Bose
LJW: As Managing Editor at SSENSE, to what extent are you involved with the e-commerce side? Do you exert influence when it comes to the buy?
DCB: We try to keep the communication channels open between our Marketing and Buying teams. Our editors have and continue to share emerging designers with our Buying team. For instance, our editor Romany Williams reached out to Brigitte Chartrand, our VP of Womenswear Buying at the nascent beginning of Mowalola’s career, and that’s how we started carrying the brand at SSENSE. Our editorial team constantly has our eyes out for emerging designers, especially with sustainable practices. There’s an investment from the editorial team to stay interested and participatory and finding alignment between the voices we look to amplify on our editorial platform as well as the brands we offer on our e-commerce side.
LJW: Are you interested in the work of young designers? How often do you look at the work of other fashion professionals and their editorial practices in your role?
DCB: I’m deeply interested in young and emerging designers. I love reading about them and discovering new voices that are trying to push the boundaries of the fashion industry, sustainability, and pedigree. What I love about the fashion world is that a lot of young people want to put their friends on making it easier to learn about new voices.
I love reading Rachel Tashjian’s Opulent Tips newsletter, it’s kind of a reprieve from the internet and her voice is so essential. She’s so compulsively readable and her point of view comes with a deep sense of fashion history. I keep up with other style and fashion writers to guide and add narrative to how fashion is documented. I also love to follow stylists and see what editorial work they’re doing, like Jessica Willis. I learn a lot about new designers through stylists, so I pay attention to that part of the industry in terms of how we conceive of stories.
LJW: Do you have any advice for writers interested in moving into the ever-growing field of editorial e-commerce?
DCB: My advice for writers is not limited to e-commerce, but it’s to stay curious and critical. A story is only as good as the voice that’s behind it, so it’s important to stay super porous. Something that we always try to keep a balance of at SSENSE is to protect the side of you that is a fan and a critic. In the world of editorial and e-commerce that makes it a bit spicy and fun, as opposed to a simply informative or commercial approach. It feels like a new way of publishing content so the possibilities are limitless.