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Fashion Editors Motivate Students To "Get out There and Do It" at Fashion Media Panel

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(L-R) Executive Director of the School of Fashion Simon Ungless, Visionaire Digital Director Lars Byrresen Petersen, Paper magazine Editorial Director Mickey Boardman and Fashion Journalism and Social Media Center Director Stephan Rabimov. Photo by Bob Toy.

Reinvention is the name of the game for print magazines vying for attention in the digital age. And if any media outlet knows how to reinvent itself it’s Visionaire—a luxury fashion and art magazine that has experimented with unconventional formats for 25 years, and Paper magazine, whose Editorial Director Mickey Boardman hatched a plan to “break the internet” with a photo of Kim Kardashian in 2014. 

On May 11, Boardman joined Visionaire’s Digital Director Lars Byrresen Petersen at St. Brigid Church, for the School of Fashion’s inaugural Fashion Media Panel. During the panel, moderated by Fashion Journalism and Social Media Center Director Stephan Rabimov, Boardman and Peterson discussed ways print magazines are transitioning to the digital world and reinventing storytelling by thinking beyond the printed page and embracing the hashtag.

“We’re in a landscape where there’s a wonderful opportunity to embrace change and do things that are different that will get attention and set you apart from all the people who are doing exactly the same thing that’s been done just because it’s always been done,” said Boardman. 

Acknowledging that most Paper fans consume the content online, he emphasized the importance of featuring stars that generate “hysteria,” like Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, and Katy Perry, not only to get more likes, shares, and retweets, but also to deliver content that fans want. Since its inception 32 years ago, Paper has prided itself in discovering and introducing new talent, so the challenge, the editor said, is maintaining a balance.

“We’re always thinking about how to reach as large an audience as possible and still be fabulous, and still be new, and we want you to discover things in each issue, we want you to discover new people in each issue and discover new things about people you already know,” he explained.

Rabimov steered the conversation toward education and internships—topics several students in attendance especially liked hearing about. For Peterson, education was important because it put him in an exclusive group that he always dreamed of being a part of—the Central Saint Martins crew, which he credits with helping him land a job at Visionaire. But for Boardman, who studied Spanish and fashion design, school wasn’t so much a means to an end as it was simply a part of this thing called life. 

“The most important thing in life is personal growth and development and that’s very often what school is,” the Paper editor said. “Even though I have a job that has nothing to do with the seven years of college that I went to, it was all a good experience. As much as I think this is a wonderful school and I encourage education, I think very often people use education as an excuse not to face the real world. You have to find that balance. School is a great time to be protected and learn things and do internships and experiment, but at a certain point you just gotta do it. You gotta stop thinking I don’t know enough. You just gotta do it.” 

According to Boardman, the best way to launch a career is with an internship, which he calls “a blind date that lasts for six months.” 

“You get to infiltrate a place that you want to be most,” he said. “If you’re obsessed with Vogue, if you’re obsessed with Visionaire, it’s a chance for you to get inside and find out what it’s really like to be there.”

School of Fashion instructor Nelson Cantada appreciated the way Boardman encouraged students to figure out which path they want to follow. “It was really interesting to have panelists that covered different types of markets—one more pop culture, one more high fashion—because there’s a lot of broad interest in the students and it’s important for them to identify what they gravitate towards and let their interests guide them,” he said. 

Fashion design freshman Erinn Smith was inspired by the directive to “get out there and start doing things” while fashion journalism senior Dairia Kymber Harvin said she loved how Boardman likened an internship to a blind date. “That was perfect,” she said. “I feel like I’m always working hard, and it’s nice to hear encouragement from people who have these amazing independent magazines. The Academy is always doing this kind of thing. Always pushing us and always giving us [real-world] examples, so it was really inspiring. Very motivating.”