The Influence of Fashion Editors on the Regional Landscape

The Influence of Editors on the Regional Landscape – panel discussion by Susan Sabet (Pashion magazine), Ritu Upadhyay (Women’s Wear Daily), Caterina Minthe (Style.com/Arabia), Sofia Guellaty (Style.com/Arabia), Fay Afghahi(Elle Arab World)CAM00144

During the second day of Fashion Forward, we gathered to hear the discussion themed The Influence of Editors on the Regional Landscape by leading fashion journalists Susan Sabet, Ritu Upadhyay, Sofia Guellaty, and Fay Afghahi. Of course, media coverage and analysis has always been essential in the fashion world and we’re glad for the focus of this talk is closer to us.

The first question, important to many of us, is about the difference between online issues and magazines. Print has always helped promote designers and it always will, but online magazines and blogs are most cost-effective and reach more people. Technology is rapidly changing the world and the fashion world makes no difference. Everybody everywhere prefers printed magazines – they are more stylish, they are more glamorous. But the faster pace of modern life affects fashion magazines – young generations seem to enjoy online magazines better. On the Internet, you can find more information quickly and easily.

Fay Afghahi explains that Elle Arab World, where she is a Managing Editor, went online in Arabic. This was a big step, as it became available for more women in the Middle East. “Online we can reach and empower more women”. With over eight years of experience in the Middle Eastern magazines, she had witnessed the important evolution of media. “Online is now going to cause demise on print, because they complement each other.” Of course, there is the issue of revenue, too. “Online still doesn’t affect the advertising revenues of print magazines”.

Speaking of editor’s influence on fashion, we must ask, how young designers are chosen to be featured in a top fashion magazine. We all know this is a big push for young talents. The editors explain that yes, this is important, but a designer should be “really original and have talent and love of quality-finishing”. Of course, his or her background is also of the essence. Susan Sabet gives an advice to young designers: “Try to learn the business from all aspects.” Her colleague from Style.com/Arabia, Caterina Minthe, admits that young designers are often told they are good, when actually that’s not the case. In her opinion, editors should be more critical. “Editors should step up. They should be more critical.” Criticism doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. When it is done professionally, it can only help an emerging, inexperienced designer and show him the right direction. Of course, says Minthe, it depends on the type of publication. “Fashion and taste is very subjective, but you have the criterion of quality and more.”

So, are local designers ready to hear the negative opinion? Unfortunately no, but if they want to enter and compete on international scale, they have to be ready. “Talent is here but it needs more time to mature.”

Does media coverage depend on advertising revenues? Susan admits that advertisers are very important, as this is business, after all. “If you spend more money in my magazine, I will give you more exposure.” However, she is not so influenced as many others in the field. Sofia continues, “Media is for the readers, not for advertisers. Advertisers come to us get advantage on the online exposure, but we do not depend on them.” And Catherine explains that yes, there are gifts, but “no fashion editor has received a wardrobe as a bribe, from what we have heard.”

Is there censorship? Is there something unusual with Middle Eastern magazines? Fashion magazines are usually very provocative – exposing clothes, swim-suits, and so on.

Surprisingly from what many people expect, there is no censorship. “In terms of photo shoots for fashion, we have not been censored”, says Fay. “Not really, even for swim-suites”, adds Susan. The thing is, people here are sometimes too afraid to express what they think and in fact, they censure themselves. There is this weird “fear” of the media in the Arab world. People are not candid and usually say a little.

From what we saw, staying true to themselves and their profession,  fashion editors prefer short skirts and high heels. And they prefer local and regional designers.

 

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