BEHIND THE BUSINESS OF VOGUE: IN CONVERSATION WITH HILARY MILNES
This year’s Brown Fashion Week began March 11 with a discussion with Hilary Milnes, executive editor of Vogue Business Americas. She manages and edits a significant portion of the articles being published for Vogue. She also coordinates Vogue Business’ events and helps to define the strategic direction of the publication. She provided her insight on this year’s theme, “fashion beyond the screen,” by describing her experiences in the fashion journalism industry, retail reporting, and how successful businesses in the industry came to be.
Hilary Milnes began her journey in the industry through a journalism internship at Stuff Magazine in Boston, where she learned valuable skills like connecting with and interviewing sources, developing a unique writing style for articles, and building a beat–”an area of specialization where [one has] developed sources and have proven [their] expertise with [their] published stories” (“What is a Beat?”). The same summer, however, Milnes also said she saw a “grim moment” for the media industry, as print publications were losing their popularity and employees began to leave the company.
Milnes later began working for Digital, a New York based trade publication. At the time, Digital had recently started writing about the media industry and wanted to explore marketing and retail. Milnes became a retail reporter and learned extensively about the business industry and retail operations. She started to focus her retail knowledge on fashion specifically when she shifted to work for the publication Glossy. She mentioned that while fashion is similar to other industries in some ways, it’s vastly different, which affects how she envisioned and reported on stories.
“There’s so many personalities in fashion that you need to follow and know. If you’re not really aware of everything that led up to this current moment in fashion, you’re missing a big part of the industry,” Milnes said. She also talked about the various nuances in fashion, like the inaccessibility of New York Fashion Week for emerging designers and how luxury fashion has a big audience and entertainment value despite most people likely never buying from those brands. She added, “You have all these dynamics within fashion that play into how you write about it.”
In 2019, Milnes became Vogue Business’ first hire in the US, when the publication was still in its developing stages. She described her experience in taking this huge risk, saying, “it was kind of a risk of a job to take because I went from my full time job–my full time salary” to less structure and permanence. She added, “it was a contract position working four days a week because… they weren’t sure how they were going to have someone in the US yet.”
In navigating the industry and the unknowns of this new venture, Milnes also talked about her imposter syndrome as she interviewed executives and CEOs from big fashion brands, as well as designers. “It can feel like, wow, who gets to be here? Who should be here and why am I here?” She said that as she built relationships with people in the industry, it has gotten much easier because everyone values those relationships. She thinks the most important thing is to “get your foot in the door” so you can continue to build those meaningful connections.