Published in Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival INDETAIL*:
In the third of our posts from our talented 2016 Fashion Writing Series Finalists, we asked Aleczander Gamboa – “What is The Future of Fashion Writing?”
Aleczander is an ambitious fashion writer and editor-to-be, with a love for fashion and everything it entails.
Whenever I’ve told people I’m a fashion writer, the reactions I receive often consist of an awkward silence, a forced smile, and sly glances to the side.
“Oh, that’s…nice,” they reply, even if they mean anything but.
Although I’m generally immune to these kinds of responses, it especially hurt when I’d receive these snide comments from others whom I thought I could relate to – fellow writers like myself who instead specialised in other mediums like fiction and poetry rather than fashion or lifestyle.
When I began my first forays into the world of fashion writing, I didn’t know where to start. Whenever I enrolled myself into writing workshops, I quickly realised these sessions mainly catered towards aspiring literary authors or poets, rather than writers looking to establish a career in fashion and lifestyle.
Instead, I found solace and support in-between the pages of glossy magazines, where I endlessly obsessed about its prose as I adapted it to my own style of writing.
For a time this method actually worked, until the feelings of incompetence once again crept in like a sneaky shadow whenever I attended my journalism classes at university.
“I want to detail Australian politics,” says one woman.
“I want to document crime,” says another.
“I want to write about fashion,” I say.
Cue the scornful sniggers from my peers as I sit there like a deer in headlights, all the while being told that my story isn’t “good enough” or “not newsworthy”.
The lack of support, along with these common responses, speaks volume on how fashion writing is treated in society. Simply put, it’s something you do in your spare time, on the side, or when you’ve got nothing better to do.
And therein lies the future of fashion writing. It’s not just its decline in print production and its evolution into the digital sphere. Rather, it’s in society’s perception of the fashion writing landscape and all those who choose to pursue it as a rewarding career.
As frustrating as the past negative experiences have been for me, I don’t believe the hostility comes from a place of jealousy, envy or downright hatred for clothing, but from a lack of understanding and a firm belief in the elitist exclusivity the fashion world is known to perpetuate.
To outsiders who only see vague glimpses of our reality through the filtered lens of mainstream media and Hollywood films, the narrative repeatedly constructed is that fashion lives a separate realm all on its own, where the glitz and glamour radiates in technicolour and everyone are mindless clones of Miranda Priestley or Anna Wintour. If you don’t know the difference between haute couture and ready-to-wear, then get out because you clearly don’t belong.
This constructed narrative couldn’t be any further from the truth.
The fact is, fashion writers are just like everyone else. We have deadlines. We don’t know everything there is know about fashion. More than that, we share the same ambitions as the rest of the human population – that is, the pursuit for knowledge and the ability to eat, live and breathe our passions as we aim to reach our fullest potential in life. The very idea that we’re a bunch of self obsessed fashionistas who think we know it all is just an awful stereotype adopted by society as a means to explain our unique world.
As fashion slowly amalgamates into the digital era, anybody can call themselves a fashion writer nowadays. But basic trend listicles and social media posts are only scraping the surface. To be a true master of this art form is to construct content that is intellectual, considered and rooted in cultural theory – much like the works of Cathy Horyn, Vanessa Friedman, and Robin Givham, all of whom are acclaimed writers renowned for their critique of fashion.
In order for fashion writing to evolve, humanity’s perception of it needs to change. Supporting young emerging fashion writers and giving them the guidance they need in order to prosper is key to this movement. By identifying this medium as an intellectual literature, a new age of fashion writing can emerge without the “us versus them” mindset, where it is regarded as a serious art form that deserves the attention and respect it so rightly deserves.