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emily kirkpatrick get featured

People’s Style Editor on Women Stereotypes in Media and How to Get Featured

What publications/outlets do you work for now? Where have you worked or contributed to in the past?

I currently work at
People magazine as the Associate Style News Editor and I occasionally do freelance for i-D, Paper, and Vice. In the past, I’ve contributed to Buzzfeed, Bustle, Daily Mail, Lucky magazine, Paste, and BULLETT.

Why did you decide to become a journalist?

It was kind of an accident. I moved to New York thinking I wanted to work in film and after a couple of on-set jobs I was frustrated by not knowing anyone in an industry that seemed to largely function via nepotism, so I started picking up some freelance writing gigs to make a little extra cash. I quickly realized I had a talent for writing that I’d always just taken for granted as something everyone could do, and from there began pursuing a career in writing more seriously.

Which of your previous works are you most proud of and why?

There are two works that immediately come to mind. One is an interview I did with
Vivienne Westwood for The Wild magazine which I’m proud of because she has been one of my punk idols since I was a teenager and getting the chance to speak on the phone with her was very symbolic for me, at the time, of just how far I’d come in my own career. The second is a longform piece I wrote for People called “Are the Kardashian-Jenners the Greatest Accidental Feminists of Our Generation?” because it’s something I was thinking about obsessively for a long time before I wrote it and I also think it engages with pop culture in a deeper, more nuanced way, which can be a rarity in our age of non-stop blogging.

What are you currently interested in covering?

More than wanting to cover any particular topic, after this election, I’m interested in finding out how women’s media can better serve women. I think despite being the most targeted demographic in the world, women’s magazines are catering to what, in my opinion, is more of a stereotype of our gender than the reality. We need to do better and be better with the type of content we are producing and finding ways to integrate a variety of genres and make all of them equally accessible. As
Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche recently told me, an interest in fashion/beauty and an interest in feminism are not mutually exclusive, we need to address the multitudes that a single women can contain, not try to dumb them down and overly simplify them so they’re easier to sell things to.

What stories interest you the most when writing outside of your beat?

Definitely the intersection of feminism with pop culture and politics. This is tough though because I’m kind of going through a renaissance right now about what I even consider my beat to be. As I said above, I’m more interested than ever in finding how all of these various “beats” relate to one another and how news can live and expand within that intersection.

Before you were at People, you wrote about emerging designers/brands. What specific aspects did you look for in the brands you covered?

Honestly, a compelling lookbook will get you a long way. At
The Wild where I worked on that, our readers were primarily visually driven, so any weird or unusual imagery was typically the best way to get me to write about a designer. Of course, I also look for plain old good design. If the pieces were exceptionally cool or well-crafted, I would feel behooved to let my readers know about them. But that being said, as my mother would exasperatedly tell you, I have very exacting taste when it comes to fashion.

Do you have an example of an excellent pitch you have received? If so, what aspects made it great? If not, what do you look for in a pitch?

I can’t think of a specific one off the top of my head, but in general a great pitch to me starts by showing that you are actually familiar with the work that I do, and are not just saying that to stroke my ego. An even better pitch is one that’s not only familiar with my work, but then goes the extra step and suggests a way that their client could easily fit into a vertical/post/gallery in the vein of what we already do. I’m a thousand times more likely to work with a new brand if I can already see how that story would live on the site.

What is your biggest pet peeve when brands and/or agencies contact you for coverage?

My biggest pet peeve by far is when people start off their email by calling me the wrong name. It’s a little thing, but it drives me nuts. It’s also annoying to me when I’m being pitched for a publication I no longer work for, it’s something a simple Google search could fix and then you wouldn’t waste both of our time. You would not believe how many emails I get asking me to write about things for websites that don’t even exist anymore.

How do you think that journalism in the fashion and design industry is shifting? Where would you like to see it go?

Overall, I see it trending in a negative way currently, i.e. quantity over quality, a move towards consumerism over craftsmanship, etc. But I also think we’re seeing a backlash to that, and I think increasingly as my generation is permitted to take on more and more leadership roles in this industry you will see that change. Fashion is an art form and should be treated as such.

I also think that in our Tumblr age, it’s much easier for designers to repeat things and make references that the viewer has no context for. I think an understanding of fashion history and its cyclical nature will also need to play a much bigger role in the years ahead if we want people to engage with the medium beyond how long it’s going to take for a designer piece to be knocked off by a fast fashion brand.

We also need to liberate fashion journalism from fear. So many writers are terrified to give their opinion or say anything negative about brands or designers because they don’t want their access and their front row seat revoked, but that fear is also precisely what cripples good journalism.

Finally, my biggest hope for fashion’s future is diversity. Diverse faces, diverse bodies, diverse genders, we cannot do enough.