Welcome to a new series where we bring the BoF community even closer together by getting to know some of our key members.
Daniela Paudice’s career has seen her at the helm of fashion direction for a number of international publications. She currently works as fashion director at large for Vogue China, Vogue Film and Vogue Me — all Chinese brands with a primary focus on digital platforms and younger audiences.
BoF: What do you wish more people understood about your job?
Daniela Paudice: Obviously, my job is very much something that’s understood in the business, but normal people have no clue what I do, despite the fact that I’ve been doing it for 25 years. So I’m not completely sure.
BoF: Any advice for those who want a career in fashion media?
DP: It’s very important that you have a talent and a passion for the industry. Those things are not acquired; you’re born with them. I really believe that to work in the business, it’s a commitment. It’s not about the glamour or any glamorous ideas anyone has about it. It’s very exhausting and you can only do it if you really love it. But more than anything else you need to have a talent. You need to have an eye for fashion, an eye for photography and an understanding of what works or what doesn’t. You also need to be capable of managing teams, you need to be a people person and be able to understand where talent lies.
BoF: What is the number one lesson you’ve learned during your career?
DP: My career’s taken me from England to Turkey to Brazil to China to Germany, to Italy. The most important thing for me was to understand the culture I was working in and being in that Vogue DNA. You need to adapt you need to learn, and you never stop learning.
You learn from everyone in your team, from the youngest to the oldest. Talent comes in many shapes and forms and it’s very important that you pick up on what is happening. Fashion is a constant evolution, it doesn’t stay still. And it’s important that you evolve with it.
BoF: What is the number one challenge you are facing in your area of expertise?
It’s a challenge that we’re all facing in the industry right now: we are at the peak of a major shift — and that’s social, cultural, political and of course to do with our business. With the advent of the internet and Instagram, and so on, we are all facing the need to update our knowledge and skills and make them work for a new generation with a completely different mindset and set of references.
The under-25s are the future and I find them extremely intriguing; I’m very excited by what they are doing. The biggest challenge we are facing in our business is to understand how they communicate and if you let it go you are out. Unless you have that constant curiosity for what’s next in the way we express ourselves, you shouldn’t be in this business.
BoF: What industry shifts are you most optimistic about?
I have to admit, I’m very jealous of 20-year-olds because the opportunities in front of them compared to what I had 25 years ago are multiplied by the minute. I wish I was part of that generation! [Technological changes] came to me as a natural evolution of what I was interested in.
I studied economics and started out in banking, but I had these fantastic ideas about fashion and I found that there were always a concept behind the clothes. As far as I was concerned, there was always a story to tell. That story can now be told in so many different ways and I think that’s extremely exciting, because it opens the door to so many different talents. There are so many ways of telling a story or approaching the subject and communication has now reached such a global level that it’s amazing to be able tot have such tools in your hands.
BoF: What topics should the fashion industry be debating more vigorously?
Right now, everyone is concentrating on all of the different issues that have been long ignored; diversity, sustainability and how to treat people properly when there are so many abuses within [the industry]. I think it’s very important we are finally bringing them to light.
This generation — the under-20s — is going to drive the next century. We should listen more to what they have to say, what their mindset is, what has influenced them, rather than just saying “they’re so different, we don’t understand them, they’re always glued to their phones.” I don’t think that’s the case, it’s another way of experiencing life and that should be understood because it is the future.
BoF: How do you hope the industry will evolve in 2019?
My hope is to move faster so we can get more clarity with where we are going, because there is a lot of uncertainty and a lot of doubts about how this industry’s going to grow — first we survive this shift and then we evolve and grow.
I wish we could just get there and be able to say say “yes, this is what’s going to come after magazines, this is what’s going to come after online-only and influencers.” Because at some point we will finally settle down and give a landscape of what is going to be communicated through fashion and what the luxury market is going to be about.
In a way, because I work in China, I have a glimpse of it because they’re so much more advanced in the way they are now interacting with fashion. Social media is paramount, but the way that they use social media differs from our use of social media. Of course, cultural habits and cultural references make the difference as well, but the fact that they’ve jumped ahead gives a glimpse of where we might be heading. I wish we would come to a more complete understanding of how we will evolve.
BoF: What are you doing differently in your role this year?
My way to evolve is to understand more and more how I can talk to the generation which is my target, because in my view, my target is the under-25s. In the next couple of years they will be the main audience with purchasing power as far as the luxury market is concerned. And just in general, on a social and cultural level, they will be shaping the world for what is next. We are watching all these dramatic situations of Brexit, Trump and so on, and the people who are going to face the consequences of these decisions aren’t being taken into account yet.
It’s about taking them into account more, because in the end I have a voice through the magazine and online platforms.
Do you have a question for Daniela?