In the fashion industry appearances rarely match reality. Let’s face it, when you’re in the business of selling fantasy, the truth would simply spoil all the fun. At least, that’s the idea. But you know what, in the words of the ever-wise Lauryn Hill, “Fantasy is what people want, but it’s reality that they need.” There are a great many fashion truths seriously worth knowing, and that knowledge will only serve to empower you. Here are our top ten misconceptions about the industry.
Myth #1. The fashion photography industry is dying
This is far from the truth. Although, yes, the industry is significantly more crowded today than it was ten years ago, it’s not necessarily crowded with talented people. Many companies and magazines still need reliably good photography, and take our word for it, reliable quality and extraordinary creative talent coupled with a solid understanding of light is still very very hard to come by, and that guarantees fashion photography will remain a viable career for a long time to come. So definitely don’t give up if that’s your dream!
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Myth # 2. A tshirt should never cost more than $20
When you can get a tshirt for $15, why would you pay more? When you can get a pair of jeans for $40, that’s the price that becomes the new norm – the standard against which all other jeans are measured. But it is exactly this bargain seeking consumer mentality that’s causing all brands to turn to cheap labour overseas so they can force their prices down. Seems like a good thing for the consumer, right? Not really. As retailers are forced to compete against these unnaturally low prices, it creates a cultural environment where the focus is on poor quality, quick turn over, and low prices (and that’s not mentioning the exploitation of overseas workers). On top of that, this kind of environment kills small, independent designers because by necessity they make their clothes locally, meaning their prices reflect the actual, totally fair non-sweatshop cost – a cost we’ve now grown to perceive as unreasonably high.
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Myth #3. Some people are effortlessly stylish
Basically no. No people are stylish effortlessly. Much like skinny bums and perfect hair, effortless style is not something that comes naturally but must be tirelessly fought for. Though some people may look effortless, they likely spend hours thinking about what to put on their bodies and how. There’s always a trade off here, either you have tons of money to hire a stylist, or you sacrifice on other things (like reading, taking fluffy for a walk or just generally having a life) in order to get your ‘look’ right. The desire to achieve this mythical effortless look is the reason wardrobe stylists are the new rock stars of the fashion (and Hollywood) world. It takes boatloads of skill, time and effort to look effortless, so don’t sweat it if you think you look like a rolled up sock.
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Myth #4. Fashion designers can actually make clothes
It would certainly help if they could, and many designers have at least a working understanding of pattern-making and sewing. But that does not mean they actually know how to make the clothes themselves. Many fashion designers function as creative directors, meaning they come up with the look, the vision and the individual components of a garment then pass it off to someone else to figure out the stitching.
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Myth #5. Modeling is a glamorous job
Try exhausting and riddled with rejection. Modeling is basically exactly like getting dolled up to ask your crush out on a date only to be turned down, again, and again. As a model your life is one long casting call after another. Yes, if you’re a model you’re likely pretty, but you’re not likely to actually feel pretty. With all the fussing, dieting, pinning, and prepping, you’re job is a constant reminder of the many ways you fall short of perfection. Not to mention the permanent state of jet lag. A jet set life style may sound very glamorous, but’s it’s actually kind of like living on a Greyhound bus, only with smaller seats and longer waits.
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Myth #6. Anna Wintour is a cold bitch.
Dear World, just stop. Why must every strong, successful woman always be pegged as a bitch? Yeah, maybe she’s a tough boss who knows what she wants, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t a warm, supportive super-hero of a human being as well. We need to start celebrating strength and assertiveness in women, instead of constantly writing it off as bitchy. That’s seriously not helping anyone.
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Myth #7. Fashion Week is stupid
With the presence of live streaming and blogging the need to actually attend the shows is becoming less important, and primarily serves the purpose of announcing your status in the hierarchy of fashion. For the fashion aristocracy sitting on the throne that is the front row, Fashion Week is exactly like the queen who takes a carriage ride through the town square, with all her jewels on display in order to assert her queenliness. But besides the abundant supply of photo-ops, Fashion Weeks have an enormous economic impact on the city they are hosted in. One New York Fashion Week study found that the economy around ten blocks of the heart of the action at Lincoln Center grew by a whopping $20.9 million during the single week. The Fordham University Graduate School of Business economic impact study also revealed that that fashion week brings in $9 million to restaurants, $6 million to hotels, $6.8 million in retail revenue and $11 million to venues annually. That’s a big deal, and extremely healthy for any city hosting a fashion week event. So long live Fashion Week!
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Myth #8. Celebrities show up to fashion shows because they’re huge fans of the designer
With the very rare exception of celebrity bffs (like Liv Tyler and Stella McCartney), you can be 99.9% sure that if a celebrity shows up to a fashion show or event, they were paid to be there (ditto if they’re decked out in the designer’s label). Celebrity endorsments are extremely powerful, but it’s a huge mistake to think, “Omg I love Jennifer Lawrence, and she’s wearing Chanel! Clearly Chanel must be the hottest thing right now!”
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Myth #9. Magazines and blogs are always biased in favor of their advertisers
Actually, often. But not always. The sphere of influence and power revolves around who writes the cheques. For huge magazines like Vogue and Nylon, most of the money comes from advertising. If they lost their advertisers, these businesses would crumble. So naturally, they have to make sure the advertiser is happy above and beyond anything else. Which means that if Prada is forking out the largest coin, and Prada doesn’t like a particular brand of perfume or has something against a particular line of shoes, guess what the mags are going to do? Cut out any mention of the offending material. In this way, advertising dictates editorial content. But this isn’t the case for independent magazines like Kinfolk, and Cereal Magazine, who have found alternative and creative means of funding their operations.
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Myth #10. Photoshop! Photoshop everywhere!
The Dove Evolution commercial has been making it’s internet rounds for eight years now. And every time we see it we can’t help think how dishonest it is. Although we get the point, incredible transformations are possible with photoshop, the truth remains that things don’t work that way in fashion. It is very rare for anyone to hire a model they had to photoshop that much. As incredible as it is, the majority of models that you see in magazines actually look like that. It’s the reason why a modeling industry even exists i.e. it’s cheaper to hire a model than to hire a regular person and make them look like a model (a la Dove Evolution). The goal is always to avoid photoshop because it costs so much extra time and money, and ain’t no body got time for that. Of course, all this goes out the window the second the conversation turns to celebrities. The reason? Celebrities are not models. Contrary to popular belief they are actually normal people (very beautiful, but normal), and the entertainment industry is desperate that you don’t find out.