For the latest in our advice column series, The Inside View, where we ask those in the centre of the industry to offer their view on fashion at the moment, we sat down with Emma Firth, the Online Fashion Editor at Hunger Magazine. With a penchant for karaoke and a mean knowledge of pop culture, here we bring you what it’s really like to work in fashion media, and how to start working toward that dream role, now.
From sitting down with Anna Kendrick for an interview one day, to attending an obscure fashion week event in Istanbul, life in the media is full of exciting experiences. Having worked for titles such as Marie Claire, Stylist and Vice, Emma’s perspective on youth culture and ability to understand fashion through a political and cultural lens, has ensured that she has built a successful career in the industry. We caught up with Emma to find out why you should avoid adding to the noise of media, why the Devil Wears Prada stereotype is nonsense and the everlasting debate of print vs digital.
What does your job involve day-to-day?
“I think I will have a week totally planned, then, maybe a couple days later, I will be in Toronto on the press job, or at fashion week in Istanbul”
“I would say that maybe the average working day would be: looking at my content calendar for the week, writing, prepping for features, go through my emails, getting back to PRs regarding features or quotes, for fashion features and beauty features that I’m working on, it’s a bit of a balancing act”
“On top of that I also work closely with my Editor Holly Fraser, who edits the magazine, Managing Editor and Head of Special Projects and Commercial, regarding bigger projects and events.”
What made you want to be a journalist?
“My career journey started when I left university, LSC. I studied sociology there, -and really I knew I wanted to write. I was doing lots of arts and film reviews, and stuff for the student newspaper, which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to go into journalism. Try as much as you can if you’re studying at the university.
“I’ve always have been a little nosy, so happy talking to people and hearing people’s life stories. I think it’s the only place I really saw myself ever being comfortable.”
“You have to make a role work for you”
Emma Firth, Online Fashion & Beauty Editor, Hunger Magazine
What are the benefits of working in media, do you get to travel, get invitations to exciting events?
“There are huge benefits that you will not get in a lot of other jobs. I have travelled a huge amount and I feel incredibly lucky to visit some amazing places. I was recently at Istanbul Fashion Week. I get to go to a lot of fashion weeks. I’ve been to Copenhagen Fashion Week, Istanbul Fashion Week, Barcelona Fashion Week.”
“The wonderful thing is being able to go to those openings, maybe it’s an exhibition, or a new launch of a brand. You get to see and discover them, before anyone else does, and that’s an absolute privilege. You are surrounded by so many funny, creative and equally hard-working people, that it just makes the job.”
Is there a place for more start ups in fashion media, or is the market oversaturated?
“Some people have got into their heads that, we need to be producing more and more and more. It’s never ending. Some people are like, “it’s about volume”, and I kind of disagree with that. There are a lot of publications and websites, that are basically creating the same content. I think we just need to think more about how we’re consuming.”
“Go out there, go to art exhibitions, read books on feminism, whatever it is that interests you. Ultimately fashion is always going to be political and have some sort of social context. Have an idea of what’s going on in the world more generally”
“Top tip to anyone who ends up interning in different publications and they really want to get into the industry, as much as it’s great to be kind and helpful to your senior, it’s actually more important to work with your fellow interns. Don’t be competitive, because those are the people that might end up offering you a job someday, they’re going to be the people you will end up working with constantly, and the industry is so small. It’s not this sort of bitchy “Devil wears Prada” environment.”
Print or digital?
“I think you just can’t have one without the other. I started off in print , it was very much the infancy of the online for the traditional media.”
“The good thing about my job now is, that it is predominantly online but I am also able to write features for the magazine which comes out twice a year. I love print, and I will always love print. I have probably 200+ magazines at home, I’m a hoarder to the core. So like everything, old Hunger, old i-D, Dazed, tons of those, the Gentlewoman, I mean, so many! I think that the power of print will always be there.”
Freelance or full time?
“From freelancing you grow in confidence. It becomes this really exciting playground to work on your writing. You learn so much from being a freelancer, and I think that any creative, whether they’re writing, photography, styling, should go freelance at some point.”
“At the same time, what’s really great with being full-time, is that you get to work on those longer projects, and you get to see a project from start to finish, that might be a month or even a year in the making. With full time you get to have more input in terms of editorial direction which is hugely rewarding.”
“Being freelance before going full time offered me the tools to be a better staffer. You have to make a role work for you. Whether you’re freelance or full-time, you’ve got to set your own goals”
As with any role in the fashion industry, it’s important to set your own goals and make a role work for you, whether that’s as a freelancer or a staffer. As the media environment is ever changing, Emma’s refreshing take on balance and engulfing yourself in society, culture and politics is a fantastic way to remain relevant and informed in your work. Most importantly- you should work together for success, make sure you believe in what you’re doing and immerse yourself in the world.
Want to learn more about a particular area of the fashion industry? Let us know in the comments and we’ll bring you the expertise!
Words and Interview by Annabel Waterhouse-Biggins