The fashion industry is notoriously hard to get into. In new YouTube web series Future of Fashion, Alexa Chung, with British Vogue, explores this and many other preconceptions that we as a society may hold. In the videos she states that “The fashion industry is often a closed book… unless you’re well versed on how to break into that industry, the misconception is that it is all privilege and that you have to go to a certain college, doing (sic) a certain degree, when there’s loads of other jobs and loads of other ways to crack into it.” This is just one of many myths Chung hopes to expel with her series, where she covers topics ranging from how to become a fashion designer to issues of body positivity and diversity in the industry.
Another concept Chung explores is the misconception that fashion is considered ‘frivolous and indulgent’. While Chung acknowledges that the industry can be this way, she also strives to educate the masses on the industry that she sees to be “full of very hard-working people who take their jobs seriously.” Her mission statement is as follows: ‘This series is an attempt to address the negative stereotypes and assumptions and cover the huge depth of the industry and the huge variety of roles that go towards sending clothes down the catwalk season after season.”
For those of you that don’t know, Alexa Chung is an English fashion model, television presenter and contributing editor at British Vogue. Her career in the fashion industry started at the age of 15 as a model, when she was scouted by Storm Model Management at Reading Festival. Following work for various magazines such as Elle Girl, she then went on to assist on shoots, before her personality landed her in adverts and television. It is through this work that she re-entered the fashion industry from a different perspective, interviewing designers and being invited to shows. So with over 15 years’ worth of experience in the fashion industry, it is evident Chung really knows her stuff.
I learnt quite a bit from watching the six-part web series. While there are many moments of insight provided by the series, the most important thing I would have to say I took away from it is the fact that the fashion industry is made up of people. I know that is an incredibly simple thing to say, but we live in a world of whimsy, want, and social media. All these more personalised forms of aspirational marketing beamed straight onto our phones make it really easy to put designers and models on a pedestal, making their world appear very far off, if not unreachable. But there is something about seeing Alexa Chung having a casual chat with Olivier Rousteing on a couch about his career that makes him seem a bit more real, and in turn his lifestyle and achievements seem that little bit more attainable. To hear about how he had to dance in clubs to pay his rent and how other designers had to struggle to make their start makes them all the more human. Some went to popular fashion schools, such as Christopher Kane, who is a successful graduate of London Art school Central Saint Martins, but others like Paul Smith stumbled into their fashion roles, worked hard and made themselves a success.
Fashion is huge. It is a massive industry worth an estimated £28bn – more than the automotive industry. After all, more people need clothes than cars. The few roles that we know of, being designers, models, photographers, stylists, makeup artists and hair stylists is just the beginning. As the videos reveal, there are also buyers, trend forecasters, personal shoppers, creative directors, social media experts, PR and marketing experts, tailors, seamstresses, modelling agents and many many other roles and people that work tirelessly in the background to make the fashion industry what it is. In the video series Christopher Kane puts the necessity of these roles very simply when he states “I can draw bags. I can draw shoes, but I don’t know how to make them.” A team to bring your work to life is essential – they are, as he puts it, “goldust.”
This informative mini series even included helpful information by the much revered British Film Council. The BFC wants young British talent to succeed, and work to create opportunities for them to do so. This can only be reassuring to any young creative minds who are determined to make it in this very cut throat industry. I recommend this series to anyone who would like to broaden their knowledge of the fashion industry, and who want to get a chance to explore the multitude of complex roles that make it what it is. It is extremely valuable to get solid, candid advice from well-known and respected people from the industry, and who better else to learn from than British Vogue.
Watch the full British Vogue video series now at www.vogue.co.uk/voguevideo