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How I Got Here: i-D Asia’s fashion editor on making her mark in a competitive industry

PHOTOGRAPHY BY Sam Stephenson

WORDS BY CAIT EMMA BURKE

“Having a strong set of self standards and ideals within yourself will allow you to redirect challenges into better results.”

Have you ever stalked someone on LinkedIn and wondered how on earth they managed to land that wildly impressive job? While the internet and social media might have us believe that our ideal job is a mere pipe dream, the individuals who have these jobs were, believe it or not, in the same position once, fantasising over someone else’s seemingly unattainable job.

But behind the awe-inspiring titles and the fancy work events lies a heck of a lot of hard work. So what lessons have been learnt and what skills have proved invaluable in getting them from daydreaming about success to actually being at the top of their industry?

Welcome to How I Got Here, where we talk to women who are killing it in their respective fields about how they landed their awe-inspiring jobs, exploring the peaks and pits, the failures and the wins, and most importantly the knowledge, advice and practical tips they’ve gleaned along the way.

This week Charlotte Agnew, the fashion editor of i-D Asia and a freelance fashion stylist, explains how she made it in a notoriously cutthroat industry. I knew Charlotte back in high school, and since that time have watched on in awe at her trajectory in the fashion industry. Her drive and creativity were evident from very early on, and her focus on practical learning while honing her craft has clearly served her well.

While at university, she focused on assisting stylists she gelled with creatively and interning everywhere she could. Being forward and reaching out to people she respected is something she credits her success to, as well as making the decision to focus in on her unique perspective and only making, in her own words, “what I thought was good”.

Post-university she studied conceptual styling and research in design at the world-renowned arts and design college Central Saint Martins, which motivated her to move forward with styling as a career. Ultimately, she believes valuing every job equally, never prioritising status and superiority, and having a strong set of standards and ideals are essential components to making it in the fashion industry. Here’s what she’s learnt along the way.

What do you do and what’s your official job title?

I work as a freelance fashion stylist commercially and editorially and hold the title of fashion editor of i-D Asia.

Take us back to when you were first starting out. Did you study to get into your chosen field, or did you start out with an internship/entry-level role and climb the ladder? Tell us the story. 

I remember thinking about fashion and magazines as this faraway world that felt like an unreality and something that seemed impossible to be a part of. I decided within six months of entering university that my time learning was going to be better spent gaining practical experience with it all. I interned everywhere I could, assisted stylists I liked creatively and was quite forward with reaching out to those I came into contact with. I went to Central Saint Martins to study conceptual styling and research in design soon after leaving university which mostly as an experience motivated me towards making the decision to move forward with styling.

 

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A post shared by Charlotte Agnew (@charlotte__agnew)

I just kept deciding to make what I thought was good (which definitely was not always) again and again until I reached a point where I understood what I was considering and how to make decisions creatively, and focusing in on the perspective I was trying to communicate. I moved through creating for different Australian independent titles until I was considered by the original i-D Australia team (Wendy Syfret, Briony Wright, Isabelle Hellyer) who allowed me to grow in a platform that celebrated a point of difference and diverse perspectives. From this I have grown with the industry, creating for titles and brands such as Vogue, GQ, Bassike, Incu, Perks and Mini and i-D, where I continue to create with the Australian teams and creatives I respect so much.

 

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A post shared by Charlotte Agnew (@charlotte__agnew)

What’s the best part about your role?

Bringing an idea from my brain into reality with a shared conversation with the incredible minds and people that exist in this industry.

What would surprise people about your role?

Maybe the rules that exist in it.

What skills have served you well in your industry?

Patience, kindness, awareness, ownership and confidence in my ideas with an open-minded-ness to reconsider your own thoughts always – maybe less skills, but having a strong set of self standards and ideals within yourself will allow you to redirect challenges into better results. 

 

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A post shared by Charlotte Agnew (@charlotte__agnew)

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be in a role like yours one day?

Don’t see the beginning steps and place of your career as ‘stepping stones’ to a better outcome for yourself within this industry. People sometimes place more importance on superiority in positions which can lead to an attitude that some roles are more important than others, but I don’t think this is always true. I think each part of each step for each job should be acknowledged with an equal attitude so the journey through this career feels valued always. 

What about a practical tip?

Ask questions – ask every question to the people you would want to consider it in your own perspective. 

@charlotte__agnew

Read the rest of the How I Got Here series here.

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