Fashion Roundtable: An
Interview with Three Leading Black Fashion Journalists
QUESTION: WHAT DO PEOPLE WANT
TO READ ABOUT?
Constance: A fashion news reporter needs to
make her copy newsier. All journalists respond to news. A lot of my coverage at
The New York Times came down to the question I kept asking myself: am I
covering it as news or as entertainment? You need to decide.
Teri: I don't do fashion coverage at all. I don't have a
dedicated space and I have to compete with everything else that is going into
the paper. If you give people a good story, everyone will read it. A lot of our
readers want to read about people, the personalities, how they earn their
Robin: The greatest compliment I can get from a reader is,
"I'm not interested in fashion but that was interesting."
I know I have to break news and write provocative articles to get my pieces in.
If you're a journalist, follow the money, follow the litigation, that is where
the story is.
Robin: The fashion business is parochial, like
junior high school. It's hard to cover it as a serious industry. They respond
to negative stories as 7th graders would. Only in the past five years has it
changed because the businessmen are taking over. Everyone focuses on the shows,
the shows, the shows. I would say that the spin-off of the shows generates news
coverage for weeks, even months.
Ernest: What has developed is
that the public relations firms have a terrific amount of clout in terms of who
gets access to the shows and to the designers.
access or no access, if it's a public company, they have to come to the phone.
They're not just talking because it's me calling. I'm from The Wall Street
Robin: The big question is "Are you profitable? If
you're a public company, you can't lie."
Teri: There is lot of
information out there, but a lot of fashion reporters don't know how to report.
QUESTION: HOW DO YOU GET THE
Teri: Tom Ford tells me what he wants me to know. I go
out and talk to his supplier. They tell me what I want to know.
Robin: The White House reporters who get to have three-hour
sit-down certainly get a flashier story. But if you don't get that sit-down
with designers there is always someone else like the business people. I would
rather sit down with Bernard Arnault than with one of the designers.
Teri: I agree. You would do better with Mr.Taki (one of the
founders) than with Donna herself. The story would be meaty, with