Design, Photography, & Fashion

How to Become a Fashion Editor: 4 Essential Tips to Help You Land a Great Fashion Editor Job

Written by MasterClass

Sep 5, 2019 • 4 min read

Many prominent publications, from The New Yorker to Vanity Fair to GQ to Esquire, feature well-regarded fashion journalism. While the totality of articles in these publications falls under the purview of an editor-in-chief, they’re managed at a more hands-on level by a dedicated fashion editor.

Other magazines function exclusively as a fashion publication, and in those cases, a fashion editor is effectively a managing editor or even an editor-in-chief.

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What Is a Fashion Editor?

A fashion editor is an editor at a newspaper, magazine, or journal who oversees the pitching, reporting, editing, and publishing of all articles related to the fashion industry.

In the United States, the fashion industry has traditionally been headquartered in New York City, and as such, most salaried American fashion editors are based in that city. Internationally, cities like Milan, London, Paris, and Berlin are also known for fashion design and the journalism that accompanies it. Therefore, fashion editors are also found living in those cities or at the very least keeping a steady pulse of their industry trends.

At some publications, a fashion editor’s official title is “senior fashion editor.”

What Does a Fashion Editor Do?

A fashion editor must simultaneously be plugged into the world of fashion trends, design, and manufacturing, and also lead a staff of writers, editors, and photographers who dedicate themselves to reporting on the industry.

Tasks that might fall within the job description of a fashion magazine editor include:

  • Develop contacts and reliable sources among fashion industry professionals
  • Attend fashion shows, including during Fashion Week in cities like New York, London, Paris, and Milan
  • Attend photo shoots showcasing the work of notable fashion designers
  • Tour showrooms that preview designer clothing due to come to market
  • Anticipate the future fashion trends coming to the fashion world
  • Interface with public relations officers as well as the fashion director and/or creative director of major brands
  • Network with other editors and journalists in the world of fashion publishing
  • Assign articles to staff writers and freelance writers—often aided in this task by an editorial assistant. Learn more about becoming an editorial assistant here.
  • Oversee the reporting, writing, and editing processes for the fashion writers
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3 Essential Qualities All Fashion Editors Must Have

A great fashion editor will be equally skilled in leading journalists, overseeing a house editorial style, and remaining current in the world of fashion, from the model-driven runways to the street style of young people.

  1. A background in writing or journalism. In almost all cases, a fashion editor will need to have a bachelor’s degree, but not necessarily one in visual art or writing. Journalism experience—whether professionally or in college or even high school—will be the most useful. It is far easier to be an effective editor if you’ve experienced firsthand what reporters must do.
  2. Strong writing skills. Regardless of what you may have studied, strong writing skills and working comfort with proper grammar and syntax are key. Even if you haven’t reported on fashion before, you may still be perfectly qualified. The skills a person may acquire by reporting on related fields can typically transfer to fashion journalism.
  3. Management experience. In most cases, fashion editors oversee a team of writers and reports, both in-house and freelance. It is essential to know how to manage a team, delegate work, and oversee the career paths of those who work under you.

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4 Essential Tips For Aspiring Fashion Editors

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Anna Wintour gives unprecedented access to her world, teaching you how to lead with vision and creativity—and without apology.

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Perhaps the best way to become a fashion editor, or to break into fashion journalism in any role, is to practice your craft wherever you are allowed.

  1. Get noticed. Blogging is a great medium for this. If you’re passionate about fashion, you need to prove it. Write as much as you can, whether it’s as a freelancer for fashion publications, for your own blog, or on social media.
  2. Gather the right materials for your portfolio. When applying to be a fashion editor, make sure you have a portfolio showcasing your work as—in an ideal circumstance—both a writer and as an editor. Your resume should mention that you possess a degree and list any relevant experience, whether in fashion journalism or a related field.
  3. Get some prior experience. If you have prior experience as an editorial assistant, this can also help advance your quest to gain full-time work as a fashion editor.
  4. It’s not always about outward appearances. The truth is that a fashion editor job isn’t always best staffed by fashionistas, styling pros, or prominent influencers. It’s far more important to be a hard worker, a responsible leader, and an experienced pro with know-how that applies to any journalistic context.

Want to Become a Magazine Editor?

No one knows magazines better than the legendary Anna Wintour, who has served as Vogue editor-in-chief since 1988. In Anna Wintour’s MasterClass on creativity and leadership, the current Artistic Director of Condé Nast provides her distinct and priceless insight into everything from finding your voice and the power of a singular image, to spotting designer talent and leading with impact within the fashion industry.

Want to become a better journalist? The MasterClass All-Access Pass provides exclusive video lessons from editorial masters, including Anna Wintour, Malcolm Gladwell, Bob Woodward, and more.

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