You may have grown up wanting to launch your own fashion publication, studying journalism or media along the way, but what if you were a fully qualified lawyer? This was the unconventional route that Kate Teppett took before launching The Fashion Conversation during her Postgraduate Certificate: Fashion and Lifestyle Journalism degree.
Since graduating in 2016, Kate has turned what started as a university project into a ‘community of exciting emerging and graduate talents from all over the world’ and established an incredibly engaged social media platform with nearly 16,000 Instagram followers. So far the online publication has featured some of LCF’s most talented alumni like Katrina Wilson, Youngmi Kim and Desirée Slabik, reviewed graduate shows from Kingston to Lancashire, and opened a discussion on some of the biggest issues facing the industry like competitiveness, political identity on the catwalk, and making fashion more circular.
Kate is also working on an e-commerce platform for students, graduates and emerging designers to sell their work. We spoke to the New Zealand native to find out more about the publication, working with Fashion Scout and what she currently finds exciting about fashion.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into fashion?
My teen obsessions were horses, fashion, and magazines. One of my best friends is a very talented designer and we used to make outfits (mainly her – I helped with cutting and pinning!) for the Fashion in the Field competitions at the horse races. I also took a few sewing classes throughout high school, before making the move to the South Island of New Zealand to study at Otago University. Law and politics seemed like a good option at the time, although I kept my interest in fashion up by enrolling in a fashion design course at the local polytechnic and buying a lot of fashion magazines as well. I graduated and initially pursued law, however, a couple of years working as a corporate lawyer in one of New Zealand’s largest law firms was enough to know that it really wasn’t for me. So I started to seriously consider pursuing a closer connection to fashion and magazines and found myself applying to London College of Fashion.
Did you have a favourite publication or journalist growing up, maybe an inspiration or muse?
As an antipodean, Vogue Australia was always a monthly read as well the New Zealand publication, Fashion Quarterly. After living in London, favourite publications have expanded to include System, 1 Granary, The Gentlewomen and CR Fashion Book. I’ve also just discovered Riposte by Danielle Pender which is a fantastic read – recent issues profile Claire Barrow, Gloria Steinem & Barbara Nessim, as well as an eclectic mix of short stories. Tim Blanks and Hilary Alexander are two journalists I really admire. I also love that they are both New Zealanders who are really making a difference and contributing to the industry in a global way.
Moving from New Zealand to London, what made you want to study at LCF?
I spent a lot of time researching different journalism courses and talking to people before deciding on the specialist course at LCF. The course really appealed as it was niche and entirely dedicated to my favourite things, fashion and magazines. It was also a great excuse for another adventure to the other side of the world.
What was the most important thing you learned whilst at LCF?
Anything is possible, and that perseverance is key.
What is The Fashion Conversation?
The Fashion Conversation is a platform for emerging designers.
How did it start and what is the aim of the platform?
The Fashion Conversation started as my final major project during my PG Cert. After the course finished, we started promoting it on social media and it has evolved and grown from there. The aim of The Fashion Conversation is to create a community of emerging designers, industry professionals and become supporters of new talents. We are also hoping to provide resources and create meaningful conversations about the industry.
What do you look for in a designer when profiling someone?
Individualism and enthusiasm. We are really lucky that so many incredibly talented designers are approaching us now.
We know you are developing the site to host designers and collections. Could you tell us a little about this e-commerce community?
The e-commerce facility is still in its infancy, however, the concept is that through The Fashion Conversation: SHOP, each designer has an individual virtual showroom, where they can showcase their collection or individual pieces, connect with a global audience and provide a meaningful experience to the buyer of the special piece. We will be looking for emerging designers who are interested in being part in The Fashion Conversation: SHOP shortly.
How did the Fashion Scout collaboration come about…
A random pitch with a couple of PR girls in the middle of last year, and then silence, before a surprise email, saying they were keen to collaborate. It has been fantastic working with Fashion Scout and a privilege to profile some of their very talented designers. We also had a great team of contributors covering the Fashion Scout schedule at London Fashion Week in February – have a read of their pieces on the site, they’re brilliant.
Is there anything new or interesting in fashion media that you find exciting?
I am fascinated by the intersection of technology and innovation with fashion and excited to see what the future will hold. I’m also very excited that we have a new contributor to The Fashion Conversation who will be writing some ideas pieces on this very topic over the next few months.
Do you have a five-year plan?
There is a five-year plan to a certain degree, however, there is lots of room for fluidity and making the most of the opportunities as they come up. You never know what is around the corner.
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