What do Charlie Brooker, controversial lefty satirist, and Judith Thurman, long time contributor to the New Yorker and fashion advocate have in common?
On the face of it, not much.
However, they have both expressed opinions supporting an argument that fashion reporting is less compelling in today’s news arena than anything that bookends the style guide such as politics or even sport.
Of course they are coming from completely different stances, Judith Thurman said on The New Yorker: Outloud podcast “many people, some women and some men think that it’s (fashion) certainly not a serious subject for journalism or literature”.
Guardian columnist Charlie Brooker is one of those men.
Writing in 2014, “Shit the fashion industry. It’s an almighty sequinned turd defiling humankind’s collective pavement”.
“Getting a moral lecture from the fashion industry is like Jeffrey Dahmer criticising your diet”.
Beyond Brooker’s language lies a popular argument; why should the media be promoting an industry that is frivolous, shallow, unethical and hypocritical?
Or is that is exactly why it should be reported on and journalists who write about the subject should be taken seriously, as it is a serious industry with serious issues.
Why Fashion Matters by Frances Corner tells us the impact and importance of how much is affected by this multi-billion dollar business.
Corner says, “It employs a whole host of professionals including designers, manufacturers, garment workers, retailers, hair stylists make-up artist, merchandisers, journalists, photographers and models.”
“Fashion matters. To the economy, to society and to each of us personally.”
And could reporting on an industry, that as Corner says “has its dark side” be shining a much needed light on it?
Journalistic moral codes, strict ethical standards and social responsibility play a part.
Glynis Traill-Nash, fashion editor of the Australian, argues a need to show a more diverse face of the industry.
“There is a shift happening in the industry with diversity”.
When discussing the recent and groundbreaking appointment of Edward Enninful as the new editor-in-chief of British Vogue, Traill-Nash says,
“The story was news, not just fashion-news. It covers so many things in the diversity discussion”.
And with more and more designers expressing their political statements Traill-Nash says that there is a lot to be said about what is currently happening in the industry and that needs to be put into context and sometimes explained.
In 2016 Hadley Freeman wrote in the Guardian, ‘Is writing about fashion really such a crime?’
“All justified criticisms people make of the fashion industry-the high prices, the unrealistic body shapes- could equally be levelled at sport. But I have yet to hear anyone, ever, making fun of (predominantly male) sports writers the way they do about (predominantly female) fashion writers”
Judith Thurman in The New Yorker: Outloud podcast called it a sexual dismissal.
“It’s an unfair and in some ways sexist judgement of an important subject”.
Journalism student at RMIT university, Anastasia McInerney spoke of her own anxiety at being taken seriously.
“I always say first and foremost I’m a journalist and second I’m a fashion journalist” said McInerney
Melissa Singer, fashion and lifestyle editor at The Age said “It’s (fashion) real news because it’s a driving industry in this city (Melbourne) that employs a lot of people”
The Responsible Fashion Company book tells us that as fashion amplifies, identifies and influences the masses as an industry, it has to the power to change the aesthetics to responsibility.
As a fashion journalist and not to be taken as the “worst possible vessel for conveying an ethical message about anything” as Brooker said, the future of fashion reporting is to communicate all the good and the bad with diversity, ethical fashion, feminism and body positivity.
As Freeman said when writing about fashion “there is always something new to write about”.