Rebecca snapped on the streets during London Fashion Week (ELLE.com)
INDUSTRY INSIDER |
MEDIA: REBECCA TAY, FASHION WRITER AND EDITOR
For this edition of Industry Insider, we got in touch with fashion writer and editor, Rebecca Tay. Former Western Editor for FASHION Magazine, Rebecca’s work has also been seen in publications like FLARE, ELLE Canada, Wallpaper* Chatelaine, Globe and Mail and more. She also acted as the Managing Editor of content for fashion retail chain, Aritzia.
Topping our best-dressed list (our Agency Director has admitted to gaining style inspiration from Rebecca), she has since brought her unique fashion sensibility across the pond to London, UK. We decided it was time to catch up on her latest adventures and talk fashion, career highlights and future prospects.
We heard that you were considering careers in health sciences, psychology and law. What made you decide on a career in fashion?
In a nutshell, as much as I loved psychology, eight years of academia didn’t sound too appealing! I got the internship at FASHION initially as a “last summer of freedom” type thing, but it soon became my way out of a boring academic life. Law school came afterward - being raised in the overachieving family that I was, I guess just having two extra letters behind my name wasn’t enough, so I went for another 2. About halfway through law school, I knew I preferred the fashion world - but it’s pretty hard to ‘quit’ what you know will be a good education, especially when you’ve already invested a year and a half and a lot of stress!
How does presiding as an editor at Fashion magazine differ from that of a managing editor for a top retail brand like Aritzia?
There’s a lot more to consider, and a lot more ‘stakeholders’ in your end product. At a magazine, you have to think about how a story fits the magazine’s demographic, whether the readers will like it, and whether it’s timely, but at a brand, you have to think about all those things - AND whether or not you’re promoting the right product that the product team need you to push.
The resources that are available to you are also significantly different: at a magazine, you work a lot with brand PR, showrooms, etc., pulling product to shoot or else, because of lower budgets, you need to use supplied imagery where possible. At a brand, you have more money to spend on shoots, but potentially a bit less creative freedom. For instance, you can’t supplement your product with accessories from a competing brand - while at a magazine, there are no “competing brands” (or to a lesser degree, anyway), per se.
From a journalist standpoint, what are some do’s and dont’s when it comes to dealing with PR reps?
Wow, where to start…
- Do reply to emails as much as possible
- Don’t be rude! You never know when you might need a PR’s help at the 11th hour!
- Do be honest: if a client is really just not a fit, don’t pretend that you’re writing about it when you’re not
- Don’t promise editorial, under any circumstances
- Don’t RSVP to events and no-show (at least without a heads-up)
When it comes to receiving pitches, what stands out amongst the sea of pitches you receive per day?
A tailored pitch goes so far. If it’s apparent that a PR knows who I write for (including the timelines that this might entail) and what I write about, their pitches will automatically be more tailored and therefore more likely to be read / received positively. You have NO idea how many bad pitches I receive - case in point: I receive near-weekly emails from one American PR, pitching stories about trekking in the Himalayas. When have I ever, EVER written about trekking?!
As a freelancer now based in London, what are you writing about these days?
I’m actually an Acting Editor for ChicBuzz Magazine, the online magazine for Chic Outlet Shopping (which owns 9 luxury outlet villages across Europe, with 2 more opening in China next year). There, I edit ‘lifestyle’ stories (food, travel, fashion) but for my freelance gigs, I’m still writing primarily about fashion, trends, and the business of fashion. I’m also writing quite a few stories for business publications these days - BC Business and Canadian Business, primarily - those are either men’s fashion stories or business profiles.
We listen to a huge variety of music in our office to keep us going. What are the top 3 songs on your playlist right now?
I’m still loving the Drive soundtrack (especially the main song, Nightcall by Kavinsky and Lovefoxxx), Midnight City by M83, and essentially anything electro-pop-y. My boyfriend says it’s like I never listened to music in the ’80s so am going nuts over it now. That said, I do also love Lianne La Havas (she performed “Forget” at the Moschino Cheap & Chic show at London Fashion Week and she used to do a regular weekly gig at a little bar called The Social here in London) - what an amazing voice.
Any career highlights for you thus far?
It’s been pretty amazing to be able to interview some of the designers that I have (especially the ones in person; email or phone interviews are offered more and more these days and just aren’t the same). Interviewing Diane von Furstenberg in her hotel room (FASHION was the only interview she granted during her trip to Vancouver for an Arts Umbrella charity gig - it was back in 2008, I think) was pretty cool, and I don’t think I’ve ever blushed as much as I did when I interviewed the Rag & Bone guys. I also recently interviewed Alexa Chung, which was pretty cool as she was funny and a good combination of media-savvy and her own personality. I don’t really get starstruck, so it was more interesting to see how gaga all the bloggers got around her!
From a non-fashion standpoint, I interviewed Deepak Chopra, and even if I’m not the most ‘spiritually inclined’ person, it was pretty amazing to spend that hour in the presence of someone so revered.
Best advice you’ve been given in relation to your career?
You only have one reputation…
What advice would you give to aspiring journalists?
Intern, intern, intern!
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
God, I’ve been asking this myself this quite a bit recently. I’d like to be more involved on the business side of a fashion business, but still working closely with product. I think that the e-commerce giants seem the most likely place for that to happen, but I also want to keep writing - and hopefully a lot. Lifestyle does become more important as you start contemplating kids and your “30-year-old” self life, though…
Top 3 designers / fashion icons on your interview wish list:
- Marc Jacobs
- Natalie Massenet (I did meet her briefly but would love to spend more time with her)
- Chloë Sevigny
- and Glenda Bailey
Follow Rebecca on Twitter @rtay