Fashion insiders share their top tips for success

In case you couldn’t get a ticket to the Dazed Fashion Forum with Amazon Fashion, here are the ultimate words of wisdom from the day

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Dazed Fashion Forum
Phoebe Collings-James gets shot by Rankin at the Dazed Fashion ForumPhotography Amelia Karlsen

From Nicola Formichetti retelling the story of Lady Gaga’s meat dress to Dazed editor-in-chief Isabella Burley, to Claire Barrow’s live portrait painting and Rankin’s live photo shoot – there was no shortage of inspiration at the first ever Dazed Fashion Forum, hosted this Saturday at the Amazon Fashion studios in East London. Gathering generations of tastemakers and industry pioneers who have been a part of Dazed’s history, the talks and events showcased the drive it takes to make it in fashion – but more importantly, how to create your own voice. Here is Dazed’s selection of advice from the days’ talks – your industry map to go forth and be different.

WORK HARD, AND KEEP THE END GOAL IN MIND

This might sound like a given, but a good work ethic was mentioned throughout the day – not working hard for the sake of it, but to develop yourself and accomplish your goals. “I work with a lot of millennials and I love them, but they’re so lazy,” admitted Nicola Formichetti. “They want to come in and be like me straight away, and I’m like ‘I’ve been working for ten years! Day and night, really hard’. I don’t know anyone around me who is successful who isn’t a hard worker.” That goes for all areas: in her talk with Gareth Pugh, filmmaker Ruth Hogben – who has worked alongside the likes of Nick Knight and Rick Owens – highlighted: “When you’re interning or assisting, when you’re getting down and dirty and sweaty, and not sleeping and not getting paid, work really hard and keep that determination and keep the end goal in mind.” 

“When you’re interning or assisting, and not sleeping and not getting paid, work really hard and keep that determination and keep the end goal in mind” – Ruth Hogben

MISTAKES ARE IMPORTANT – JUST LEARN FROM THEM

“It doesn’t matter if it is not perfect, it’s important to be passionate enough to try,” said Zowie Broach of what she looks for in students as the head of fashion at The RCA. It was unanimous amongst the speakers that no matter the path you choose, you will make mistakes – but it’s important to grow from them. In the conversation between art director Shona Heath and fashion curator Shonagh Marshall, Heath explained: “You learn, then you make massive mistakes, and then you learn from that. You employ people and they’re your life savers.” On facing the rest of the troubles of starting in an industry, film director Kathryn Ferguson has the last word: “It’s a dangerous, slippery world out there, but it’s important to ignore the nonsense and focus on the process.” As for AnOther’s fashion director Katie Shillingford, she advised that people never think they know it all – “You are constantly learning, this is the most important thing to remember.”

BE YOURSELF, AND BELIEVE IN WHAT YOU’RE DOING

From facepainting beginnings to creating make-up for the likes of Junya Watanabe, Dazed collaborator and multi-disciplinary creative Isamaya Ffrench told the audience to follow their intuition and not to believe in comparisons: “The only person you can be is yourself,” she explained. “Maybe you’ll be walking down a New York street and you hear something very mainstream, but in your head it’s very violent,” said composer Frédéric Sanchez about his own creative process – in other words, the singularity of your own vision is important: not everyone sees what you do.

DON’T DO IT FOR THE LIKES 

Social media got a mention as a force both for good and evil: it allows for self-curation and self-promotion, but has its limits. Nancy Tilbury explained: “As technology takes over and things speed up, it’s important to value intimacy and beauty, and curation is important – not everything out there is good.” It’s also important to not let it get you down. Susie Bubble had some advice for her younger self: “Have a thicker skin. Especially working in the internet, people will say a lot of shit about you.” So don’t do it for likes, and trust your instincts.

SURROUND YOURSELF WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE

“Don’t do it alone. It’s difficult to stay afloat if you’re trying to do everything by yourself,” admitted Gareth Pugh, referencing the importance of his long time collaborators Ruth Hogben and Katie Shillingford. Isamaya Ffrench also mentioned that the best way to learn is to study the people around you: “If you want be good, be around people that are better than you.” Adding to this, Alexander Fury highlighted the importance of feeling part of something, advising the audience to “work with people who really care.” There was one last word of caution from Rankin to his younger self: “All the people around you are going to be in the industry in 20 years – so don’t piss them off.”

BE PASSIONATE AND USE YOUR VOICE (IT MATTERS) 

“We decide what people want. For anyone who wants to be involved in fashion, you have to keep that integrity. People want to hear your voice. You have something important to say. Your ideas have value,” said artist Phoebe Collings-James in the talk about fashion’s new identity politics, which was permeated with passion and more importantly, a drive towards change. Artist Matthew Stone highlighted the power of young people and the importance of cherishing that ability: “They’re scared of you because you know what’s cool,” whilst Radical People founder and editor Reba Maybury gave the ultimate advice: “We should all be passionate. We need to challenge ourselves all the time. We can’t be comfortable.”

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