Vogue fashion news editor Sarah Spellings (Medill ‘17) spoke to an audience of about 40 students at a Zoom Q&A Thursday to kick off STITCH’s speaker series.
Spellings answered questions about the role consumers and journalists play in the fashion industry, her college experience, career advice and what it’s like working in the fashion industry during a global pandemic.
Michelle Gozdanker, Weinberg junior and director of corporate for STITCH, said she wanted to start a speaker series to increase the publication’s presence on campus.
“Everyone who has applied to STITCH mentions that until they applied, they didn’t know who we were,” Gozdanker said. “We want them to know who we are because a lot of work has been put in, and it’s a cool way to include fashion and whatever you’re learning in courses together.”
Medill senior and STITCH editor in chief Emily Burns said one of her goals was to offer more opportunities for students to network and get engaged with alums.
Spellings was also an editor in chief of STITCH in her senior year at Northwestern. She said she worked to evolve STITCH to steer the publication to be more politically engaged during her senior year.
“We had reached out to Sarah and she was so excited, like so down as soon as we asked her,” Burns said. “She was really excited about talking to students and answering any questions they have.”
Spellings was the first NU student to hold a journalism residency at The Cut, a New York-based fashion magazine. She then freelanced for The Cut before she was hired as a morning writer for the publication coming out of her senior year of college.
The fashion editor said networking was crucial to her success.
“When I started in media, I really didn’t have a very wide network,” Spellings said. “I knew people at The Cut, but I didn’t have any family connections. I didn’t know anyone in New York. But that’s how you stay afloat in the industry is how many people you know, how many people recognize your name.”
She said she eventually left The Cut and joined Vogue in order to further expand her networks.
Seeing her name on a Vogue masthead was “one of the coolest things” she has experienced, Spellings said.
“I had wanted (to see my byline on Vogue) since I was like a middle schooler,” Spellings said. “Like, I have a stack of old Vogues from middle school and seeing that I was just kind of like, ‘Okay, like, I’ve done it.’”
Spellings said other memorable moments in her career included going on NPR’s “All Things Considered” podcast to talk about the resurgence of low-rise jeans, and going on Good Morning America to talk about Victoria’s Secret cancelling its fashion show.
However, Spellings said the grand moments aren’t all that make her job great.
“I love the dumbest parts to my job,” Spellings said. “I love the blog, like I love the celebrity style, anything. Those things accumulate, and that’s the real fun part is just like enjoying putting out content that hopefully will make people laugh or smile every day.”
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