By Madeleine Mamak
From having worked at Elle, Marie Claire, and as the Editor-in-Chief at InStyle, Charlotte Moore’s experience in journalism is impressive to say the least. Charlotte has had such a varied and interesting career in fashion and I was delighted to have the opportunity to discuss it with her. With an unwavering passion for the industry, her deep love for fashion allowed for such a fascinating insight into what it takes to succeed as a journalist within the industry.
I was lucky enough to do work experience with Charlotte at InStyle UK a few years ago. The atmosphere was positive and filled with driven, hard working people. The environment was upbeat and full of creativity, and I loved getting a small but rewarding insight into the crazy
amount of work that goes into making the magazines that many of us love to read.
I was completely drawn to the buzzing, uplifting mood of the office, even in the short time I did work experience there. The cupboards were lined with issues of InStyle, each one brimming with insightful stories, fun interviews and reviews. People seemed to enjoy what they do, and there is not much more you can ask for from a career. I was lucky enough to go on a photoshoot with Alesha Dixon and help out where I could. This small glimpse into the world of fashion magazines was exactly what I had hoped for. It was fun and the energy was always high. Even if the day was long for those who had done it a million times before, the end product was going to be a glossy magazine spread, and this fact alone was enough excitement to keep the day moving. Watching the people work on the shoot was so inspiring, all of them working hard for perfection while maintaining motivation. Everyone was really welcoming and open to any questions I might have. Even when I was sat at a desk in the office, handing out post and typing out interviews, I couldn’t imagine a career that better incorporated genuine passions and interests, with hard work, than the ones I saw at InStyle.
Now working as Head of Content at sustainable accessories brand BOTTLETOP, Charlotte discusses her career and how amazing progress has been made towards recognising the need for sustainable fashion - her words provide an incredible insight into how the world of fashion is moving forward, and why it will forever be a source of joy.
Did you always want to work in the fashion industry?
My first job with a proper salary was at ELLE magazine. I’d done a ton of work experience in newspapers and other magazines. My dream was to become a journalist. Because of my personal love of fashion, working at a woman’s mag that mixed features and fashion was a good fit.
What do you think was your breakthrough into working for the media/ fashion industry?
It wasn’t so much a break as determination to get into the industry. I have always enjoyed writing so discovering there was a job that you could write and interview people for a living was great for me. There weren’t many jobs around - and none were advertised - the only way in was working for free. I quickly discovered during my time doing work experience that if I helped the more senior journalists out with all the research they needed to find stories, they would offer me bits and bobs to write myself.
Was it very competitive?
It has always been very competitive because it’s such a fun and rewarding job to do. Magazine journalism is very mixed. As a feature writer you can be interviewing a recovered anorexic one day, a celebrity another, covering a fashion show or travelling to Turkey to review a hotel. But there is always someone just as good as you queueing up to get your job behind you, so you can never be complacent.
Why do you think fashion brings such joy to people’s lives? And where did your love for fashion and the world of magazines derive from?
Clothes are one of the easiest forms of self expression. For millions of people how they put a look together every morning is a brief moment of creativity. How far you take this depends on you. I think my original love of fashion comes from my family. My parents - particularly my dad loved good clothes. My grandfather was a tailor and my grandmother worked in a designer store for most of her life. When she retired she was still doing ad-hoc personal styling on lots old ladies in her area. My mum’s family were more arty - painters, potters, crafts-people and actors. Working in magazines you get to hang out with lots of people a bit like this - so I loved that side of it.
What was it like working for a magazine?
I worked for ELLE, Marie Claire and InStyle. Although it can be stressful and not particularly well-paid especially at first, it’s an incredibly fun industry to work in. For most of my life I had women bosses and was surrounded by brilliant women - now I am in a different world I really appreciate how lucky I was for a good proportion of my routing life.
What did being an Editor-in-Chief entail?
Being the Editor-in-Chief of InStyle was amazing. You have complete creative control over everything from the cover star to every feature and every interview. I was lucky because I got to employ most of my team so I could start from scratch and work with people I really liked and knew would be really creative. What’s different when you get this job is that you become the figurehead of a brand - and a brand that needs to make money! That can be scary, especially as the shift from print to digital happened. How well our Instagram was doing and how many unique users were on our site became more important than who was picking up the mag. As digital content is free, my role was as much about coming up with creative concepts to make money from InStyle with awards, content collaborations and events, as it was about journalism and shoots.
With your role and experience, you must have met some really interesting and inspiring people in the industry. What is one of the standout memories of working with fashion? What are some of the most valuable lessons you have learnt?
Every journalist gets to meet interesting people no matter what area you go into. Going to Downing Street and meeting Tony Blair was pretty good, and spending 7 days with Lily Allen in the Amazon for a story about climate action was another highlight. I think the best thing I learnt was that everyone has a story - no matter how quiet or tricky they can be when you meet them. You just have to keep asking questions - gently of course.
Please could you describe your role at Bottletop in London? What is the message behind the brand?
I am now Head of Content at BOTTLETOP - a sustainable not-for-profit accessories company. It’s a totally different job but requires many of the same skills. Last year we launched #TOGETHERBAND, a campaign to tell people more about the 17 sustainable development goals. My role has been to create digital content - interviews, social videos, blog posts - as well as marketing assets like newsletters, posters and flyers. As well as sustainable handbags we make bracelets made from recycled ocean plastic. Our aim is to raise awareness and funds for grass-roots charities through the sale of products. It’s been a huge learning curve working for a small organisation but I have been able to build a team of graphic designers, illustrators and film-makers. I have started doing interviews again - David Beckham, Naomi Campbell and Princess Eugenie - and it’s really stretched my creativity.
Do you see a growth in sustainable fashion throughout the industry, or is It hard for the industry and sustainability to co-exist?
I’ve learnt a lot about what it means to be sustainable and it’s difficult. Making pieces that are handmade with materials that don’t harm the planet is an expensive business. Unfortunately, sustainable fashion is too expensive for most people to buy. However as more brands take on sustainable practices, changes in the fashion industry are happening. People are far more aware that endless shopping for clothes that are worn once will end up in landfill. I don’t like the idea of being preachy because in the end fashion is meant to be fun. You wouldn’t want the sustainability message to take the joy out of fashion.
Throughout your career, do you feel like you’ve seen many changes for the better?
I have seen enormous changes in the fashion and beauty industry. When I used to go to shows there were only 6ft white skinny models on the catwalk. Now every race is represented alongside a sprinkling of sizes and ages. The beauty industry has launched many more products for different skin colour which is also hugely important. I don’t think the journalism in magazines has changed that much. We were always a little more inclusive than news outlets in terms of what we featured - especially at Marie Claire. I commissioned a story on trans women back in 2005, as well as regular stories about women's issues such as forced marriage, FGM and mental health from all over the world.
What are you excited for regarding the future of fashion and the future of BOTTLETOP?
I am really excited to see how digital media is changing how we discover new things. Instagram and Tik Tok have democratised communication so much - now everyone can be a creator. What it means for communications professionals is that we have to be as creative and relevant as possible so we can keep up. Right now sustainability feels like a trend rather than a reality for most brands. I am looking forward to seeing how fashion houses like Dior and Prada use innovative but sustainable materials such as apple leather to make beautiful pieces that are just as desirable as their leather or plastic equivalent.
The world of media most certainly appears to be an exciting and varied one and I loved getting to chat with someone who’s right at the centre of it. Whether you’re an aspiring journalist, keen to delve deeper into the world of fashion, or simply enjoy flicking through the pages of a magazine, Charlotte’s career thus far holds plenty of interest. There’s no doubt about it: if you’re looking for an exciting and non-stop career, fashion journalism and brand communication seems like the place to be.
A special thank you to Charlotte Moore.