Thousands of people attend fashion week every season, but why do they go? Does their job require them to be there? What are they looking for? We seek to answer these questions in a series of short profiles leading into New York Fashion Week. Next up: Teen Vogue's Senior Market and Accessories Editor Jessica Minkoff.
In general, what does your job entail?
For me it’s very much about knowing everything from high to low. Our fashion director goes to Milan and Paris so she covers those shows but I also have to be in tune to what the trends are there and it’s very much about this high/low mentality at Teen Vogue, so we do shoot a whole runway look but for the most part it’s about recreating those looks with more affordable pieces and then there will be a more statement piece here and there that’s kind of aspirational for the reader. The bulk of our readers aren't teens. We do have 13-17 but most of the readers are around 17-24 so it’s very much about how I dress and how I approach my life because you won’t ever see me wearing a head to toe look from Saint Laurent but I will incorporate a Saint Laurent kitten heel or bag into my outfit with J Brand jeans or a Zara shirt.
What do you do to prepare for a shoot?
It’s mostly pulling things. Our stylists come and we meet with them and go over the direction of the shoot and they send through a list of the looks they’re interested in having. My job is to understand the vibe and then go through the market and supplement with more looks that could work for the story, so my role is really introducing them to new designers that they might not have called in or finding a way to create a look that they can’t get because it’s out on another shoot, so it’s kind of like searching for these pieces and these designers that stand out to me when I’m in the market. Also it’s not just about shooting the same three designers over and over, that’s another thing, teenagers want the newest, coolest thing that other people might not know about yet, so that’s where the challenge is and for me that's super exciting.
What is your main reason for going to fashion week?
I think the main reason for me to go to fashion week is to see all of the shows and figure out what the trends are and how I’m going to put them in the magazine, like how to make them interesting for the Teen Vogue reader, so for me I have to be going to the major shows but I also try to go to as many new up and coming designer shows as possible, even if they’re presentations, just to stop in and take a look because oftentimes we do feature new up and coming designers, especially if they’re in their mid or early 20s. I don’t necessarily do the 'fashion at work' pages or the pages on those designers but I do give my input to our fashion news director. Obviously in New York it’s so crowded on the schedule and it’s tough to make it to everything but I know my schedule’s going to be packed and it’s nice because I work very closely with the fashion director so we try to divide and conquer so that there’s representation from Teen Vogue at all of the places. We know what shows are not necessarily important to the magazine in terms of the fact that it doesn’t speak to our reader as much as something else. I think I’ve learned how to navigate the schedule a little bit, I’m finally feeling less overwhelmed.
What are you looking for at the show and how do you keep track of it all?
I think when I’m at the show I try not to be doing too much besides watching the show. When I used to work at Style.com I had to take notes because I was writing reviews and I felt that, yes, it’s important to do, but if you don’t pay attention to what’s actually going down the runway how can you take anything in? So for me it’s a lot about actually looking and when I leave the show and am on my way to the next show is when I’ll jot things out. I take notes about the trends that I see so after the first day or so you can kind of tell what trends are being shown so I start writing down trends that each show fits into and I’ll take notes on if there’s a specific look that I liked but usually we’ll leave that to the stylist. Then I obviously go to re-sees after the shows and I go to all of them to take pictures because there’s so many pieces that aren't brought on the runway.
For me it’s so much easier to get through the season and know what to call in if I actually pay attention, because otherwise I’m just going to have to go back on Style.com and look at all of the shows over again and then what was the point.
Why do you think it's important to physically go to the shows as opposed to just attending a re-see or looking at pictures online?
I think when you see the clothes in person on the model it looks so different on then it does off, so that’s what’s not so great about just going to a re-see is that you just see the clothing on a hanger and it doesn't do it justice; also you can’t really feel a mood or a trend by just looking at something. A lot of it has to do with the styling and accessories and the way that it's put together and the music and I think a huge example of that would be the Tommy Hilfiger show from last season. It was a production and it was so memorable, like I can recall all the looks going down the runway. I know that at Teen Vogue, we loved that collection and have been shooting it and it’s actually on the cover of the March issue, but I think that’s another reason why it’s important to be at the shows because the mood that the designers create is what you remember and it’s easier to keep those designers in your head.
Are you still working on shoots and producing the magazine during fashion month?
The magazine production continues regardless of whether it’s fashion week or not unfortunately. It would be nice if we could be like, 'Oh we’re not going to do anything but go to the shows,' but there are so many other departments of the magazine other than the fashion department that don’t go to the shows and they have to continue to be on schedule for the magazine to ship and the issue to close so I definitely am dealing with what I would be doing on a daily basis, but I think we do kind of keep in mind that I’m out at shows, the fashion director is out at shows and then we go to Europe. We just shot so much of the May issue so it will be a lighter load of shoots but there will definitely still be shoots that pop up here and there, but luckily since you’re with your team while you’re at shows it’s easy to discuss and figure out how to get things done. Then you just have to do some work at night when you get home, there’s just no way around it.
What's your least favorite thing about fashion week?
I think the least favorite thing for me is when it’s fall, the snowy weather, because it’s impossible to be out all day and not sad that you’re freezing and also just going so long without being able to eat, like having a sit down lunch where you’re not stuffing your face with something and you’re still hungry because you don't even realize you ate. That sucks. But otherwise I really don't mind it that much because I get to see my friends from other magazines. Especially in London it’s really fun because you’re together all the time. We always call it summer camp because we’re in the car and hanging out and yeah we’re working but it’s a little bit more of a fun environment.
I know there’s a negative stigma around fashion week and it’s because we’re working non-stop going from show to show and it’s freezing and you’re hungry but besides those two factors I don’t really mind it very much.