“Young creatives”. A popular term thrown about to describe the arty archetypes of generation Y, often associated with those growing up with social media and having to study and/or work in a landmine-filled digital environment. “Young creatives” and the words “struggling” seem to be lumped into the same sentence quite regularly, but whether this is merely the dramatic inner child within such budding talent or awareness is simply rising, it’s a hot topic regularly explored by various current creative titles. Last month, Dazed held a very special event with Amazon Fashion to promote “a day of talks and workshops to inspire fashion students and young creatives”.
There’s a reason why as I type this in Microsoft Word, that the term “creatives” has a red squiggle underneath it. I’m not sure when it came to be adopted as a noun or how long it’s been used for, but recently it seems to be the adorned title of many (cough – Instagram profiles) and is often the most common answer to “so what do you do?”. I suppose it could be considered an umbrella term due to the varied nature of jobs they take and the multi-talent they require. You often hear in the news about these emerging multi-taskers, following in the footsteps of icons such as designer/director Tom Ford. On the other hand, the term can come across as a little pompous, as it can suggest by simply being creative you are automatically blessed with a job title or profession. I know few individuals who openly dub themselves as creatives and can back it up with well...a plethora of various creative work using various creative mediums. Regardless of my irreverent nitpicking, “young creatives” are indeed a phenomenon, and I’d like to think the reason why the term can be met with such disdain is the lack of information provided to emerging talent, an issue which Dazed did so well to address.
I never studied fashion at school. The closest I came to drawing was this wax crayon copy of Van Gogh’s Starry Night, which actually was a super-zoomed in segment because the whole thing looked a little too “hard work” for my 16 year old self. I don’t know what it’s like to study design, nor styling, nor promotion – anything with the prefix ‘fashion’ – at school nor university level. I only know what I hear from my friends & colleagues, and that what I do hear is rarely ever good. Forgive me if I’ve heard wrong, but the general consensus seems to be that fashion-related courses don’t seem to prepare you for the realities of the fashion industry. Whether it’s the values of assisting or interning, the grind that the successful did to get successful, the pressures you may face and how to deal with them – it all seems to go over people’s heads, wondering why they haven’t been featured as one-to-watch in the latest issue of [insert mega title here] after a three-month internship. Heck, it’s not the fault of the students. If you’re entering reality with an ego because no one ever told you otherwise, how are you to know? Who’s going to tell you a PR won’t lend you samples because they don’t know who the hell you are, or that some “fellow creatives” will rinse you of your ideas, or entice you into working for free for an extortionate time (I believe in paying your dues, but I don’t believe in taking the piss [take liberties]). There must be a real lack of guidance, because people see the endgame of success and the idea of glamour which people portray through social media, but they don’t seem to see the hardwork nor the many rejections along the way.
About one month ago, Dazed & Confused worked with Amazon to hold an extra special Dazed Fashion Forum, where there were live talks and discussions from various talented insiders, designed to provide fashion students & attendees with brilliant insight across an array of topics. Unfortunately I didn’t attend the workshops and I was only an observer to photographer Rankin’s open shoot experience, but I’d like to think I was there for the main attraction, and quite an attraction it was.
The debates were heated. “It’s about leftfield thinkers, sharing radical ideas, opening up new possibilities and showing how the youth can break into the industry and make a mark...“ says Dazed co-founder Jefferson Hack. He was right – there were radical views, and interesting opinions backed by both zealous & amicable speakers. There were talks on gender; race; equality on one side of the spectrum, and on the other, much less “weighty” topics (but equally enjoyable) such as the decisions behind catwalk music. The panel in most cases were memorable, Sang Bleu editor Reba Maybury in particular, who spoke very very passionately about her views on equal representation within media titles, or filmmaker Kathryn Ferguson, who said an abundance of quote-worthy comments about the current generation of filmmaking and self-confidence.
To the surprise of many I’m sure, there were a few controversial statements. While I believe the purpose of the day was to inspire and build determination amongst new potential talent, there were certainly several moments which shone a darker, realist light on the eventful day. I’m sure it would be nice to hear the fashion industry is full of daisies and glitter (well that would be hell for me), but instead, hearing “fashion is capitalist, run by many anorexic white girls” is needless to say, a statement unforgettable and gasp/chuckle worthy as it is bold. Industry wise it’s hard for me to really comment as I like to stay within my own “creative bubble”, but I’d be lying if I didn’t see some truth in Reba’s unabashed words, which might I add left the room in a short but noticeable silence. The world childrenswear market alone increased by 15% from 2009-2014 to a whopping US$186 billion, which is about a sixth of mens + womenswear combined. Naturally fashion is as much as business as it is an inspiring dream for colourful individuals, and business choices are almost always led by wads of cash and consumerism. As for the second part of the statement, well let’s just say any argument about equality can get very sloppy, but if the aim of her words were to leave food for thought, it certainly did the trick.
The last time I regularly attended talks was back at my old business-related job, as it was part of the whole conference culture of commingling with colleagues & clients. The Dazed talks have certainly got me thinking about getting back into the swing of things. There’s something quite nice about hearing talented individuals garble amongst themselves passionately about their field and its surroundings. Frédéric Sanchez, a composer of music scores for shows including Comme des Garcons and Vivienne Westwood, spoke so confidently about his methods, and expressed a passion that resonates naturally with the French (who’s accents could make Cat in the Hat sound like a translation of Sonnet 18). As mentioned earlier, Kathryn and her fellow panel members raised mostly very valid points about the effects of social media. “Creating these days is a fragile process – developing an idea based on opinion is dangerous” said the film director, going on to cite her concerns for the younger generation and desire for validation. It was all thought-provoking and I’d like to hope the “young creatives” who attended paid attention and actually got something out of it, because if anything these are the sort of talks that are tailored for them, to create awareness; improvement and provide a little inspiration.
I’d like to think content wise, Dazed did a brilliant job. I certainly came away with more to jibber-jabber than usual, and more to rant about as well (ranting is always healthy). A special mention to Emma Allwood, who let’s just say, moderated the heated equality talk pretty damn well. Here’s hoping for the determined young creatives.