Isabella Fish became Deputy Editor of Drapers this month, moving from her News Editor position. We spoke to Isabella on the eve of London Fashion Week to hear about her career so far, her advice to young journalists, and how PRs can best work with the Drapers editorial team.
You were a news reporter at the Daily Mail before joining drapers in 2017 - what brought you to the world of fashion retail?
I was offered a scholarship at my university while I was studying at the University of Kent, so that included a scholarship. It funded my Masters degree and it offered me two weeks’ work experience, and at the end of that I was asked if I would like to stay on as a news reporter, covering general topics, such as business, crime, fashion, celebrity. That was a huge learning curve for me and a really, really good opportunity to get my teeth into journalism – I was thrown in at the deep end and it was absolutely brilliant.
I wanted to become a ‘specialist’ in a sector, and have a dedicated focus on a topic. I knew I was interested in business, retail and fashion, so started at Drapers.
Do you have other advice to young or aspiring journalists who are looking at the fashion sector or indeed any B2B areas?
I'd say not to be picky ... it's great to have an end goal and it's great to have something that you're interested in, but I think, coming out of uni or school or whatever it is that you're branching out into journalism [from], I think it's really important to just say yes to every opportunity that you can.
Just getting your foot in the door of a busy newsroom and seeing exactly how it works is great experience - no matter what areas. Just saying yes to different opportunities really … if you're wanting to get into fashion business or fashion retail, whether it's consumer or trade, your way to get in there isn't necessarily by having fashion work experience because, you know, everyone wants to have that. It's having a broad understanding of how different newsrooms work, whether it's a newspaper or magazine ... try everything and don't rule anything out because it can help you along the way.
What have been the biggest recent challenges for fashion retail?
Just seeing how much the high street has changed since the start of the coronavirus – you only have to look at Oxford Street to see just how much of an impact it’s had … obviously the big one was the TopShop store on Oxford Street that’s now gone … there’s also not a Debenhams anymore.
What areas do you think fashion is trying to improve in and what areas should they be improving in?
The biggest focuses at the minute are sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and bolstering omnichannel offerings.
Do you have any tips for PRs who are pitching to drapers?
We’d absolutely love to respond to every single press release and news pitch, but if there’s a busy day in the office we can’t always do that. But don’t be afraid to re-flag something … we might have missed it on a Monday when we’re busy picking up the weekend papers.
Pencilling in coffees and catch ups and putting a face to a name does really help because when the email pops up or a phone call pops up you know that person, and you’ve got a good relationship with them.
Do you have working from home or hybrid working at Drapers?
We’ve got a good mix – we’re in the office on a Tuesday and Wednesday, and that’s so we can collaborate, share ideas, catch up as a team. It’s really important to be able to do that. Then on Monday, Thursday and Friday we’re working from home.
Obviously part of the role is going to events, attending conferences, getting out on about meeting people.
What’s ahead for Drapers – there are the Drapers Awards, right?
Yes, the Drapers Awards are in November. We've got our independent awards next week [22 September] and obviously the biggest thing is, we're coming into autumn/winter and that means the golden quarter is looming. Coupled with that, we've got a potential recession and we're living in a cost-of-living crisis. We'll be closely following what that means and what impact that has on fashion businesses and how they're going to be trying to survive and thrive against those headwinds.
For young journalists wanting to get into journalism, [don’t] rule out B2B … it does allow you to become a real specialist in a sector which is really highly considered, especially if you did then want to make the switch to a consumer, moving on to a newspaper or a magazine.
We are recruiting for a news editor, so if anyone is interested then please do get in touch.
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