Taking over the reins of one of America's biggest magazines is no easy feat, but in little over a year Laura Brown has made an indelible mark as the editor-in-chief of InStyle magazine. With subjects ranging from Selena Gomez to Joe Biden, the Australian native seems to have found what makes print readers tick (and buy). And on this week's episode of UnStyled, she sits down with Refinery29's co-founder and global editor-in-chief Christene Barberich to discuss just how she does it.
If you're anything like Brown — that's to say, someone who's equal parts fashion obsessed and fashion savvy — then you're aware of how intimidating the fashion industry can seem. That's why at the top of Brown's list is a toolbox of emerging designers and thought provokers whose core values relate with InStyle readers on all sides of the spectrum. It's also why, compared to other magazines who continue to struggle to stay en vogue, InStyle feels more relatable than ever before. And it's why Brown, who's had an extensive and diverse career in fashion, was the perfect woman for the job.
On this week's UnStyled episode, you'll learn a lot about Brown's pre-InStyle career, which saw her in roles that required more production-based skills than her inherent taste for all things cool, and why she made the jump from Oz all the way to the Empire State. She's a fashion cat who's lived many lives, and has pretty much done it all. But if there's one thing to learn from everything the buzzed-about editor has to offer, it's that there's an unglamorous side to fashion, too. But all you need is a little dose of reality — in her preferred concoction of humor and kindness — to remind us why we fell in love with it in the first place.
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How have you managed to straddle the business and creative sides of InStyle?
Laura Brown: "You just want sort of stay in and edit. You know, what I mean? You can't really do that anymore. I think the best way is just to sort of always under-think it a bit. You're speaking about your brand and your brand message, to whoever it is — it should be consistent. It's not hard. So, you tailor your conversation to whoever you're talking to. If it's an auto advertiser versus a philanthropic thing versus a celebrity, you know — if, at heart, your ideas are consistent and what you stand for is consistent, then it's not difficult."
You've talked about feeling like an outsider in the fashion industry. Why?
LB: "I always called it the Fashion Movie. I wasn't in the Fashion Movie. Like, I just kind of got to where I am, I think just through my personality. In my ability to do the work, my currency and what I stand for, and who I am and success that I've achieved, and InStyle, is achieved in some way because of that. I can stand up straight and go, I'm owning what I do. I came from nothing and nowhere, really, and have this job, so I kind of don’t give a shit."