For their inaugural monthly meetup series, the website Fashionista hosted a one-on-one panel with Joe Zee, which did not disappoint. Discussing everything from his best career advice (“Say yes to everything!”) to the future of print in our increasingly digital world, the editor-in-chief of Yahoo Style offered up some amazing fashion-world insight. But the best part of the conversation came when the former Elle creative director reflected on the types of people who get into the industry in the first place: onetime-outsiders just looking to fit in. Zee explained:
"The fashion industry is the island of misfit toys. It's like the eccentric kids from every high school got assembled in one industry and are now applauded and celebrated for their eccentricity. So the kooky person in school that might have been ostracized? It's now like, 'Oh, she’s so cool, she’s so different, she’s so interesting.' But at the end of the day, there's still that insecure kid inside that eccentric person being applauded, so those feelings haven’t gone away. And that's what makes it so hard; we’re all just insecure and we all just want to belong and it takes a lot to get to a place where you don’t care. If you don’t invite me, it's fine, and if you invite me, great. I try to shed that light on a lot of people, but you’ll grow into it. It's not something anybody could have told me in my 20s that I would have believed, but that was something I had to find out for myself. It doesn’t really matter, it's just about the work that you do."
It's a striking quote, not because it's insulting (let's be honest here—we can all be insecure), but because there's truth to it. As a fashion editor myself, with friends throughout the industry, I can definitely attest to never being the coolest girl in school. Instead, I was "the artsy one" and, yes, there was the occassional inclusion of "weird." But today it's not uncommon to hear, "I want your job!" from my oldest high-school pals. That was never a conscious plan, and I doubt it was for Zee either, but you know what? The little girl in me does a little shimmy every time it happens.
As for Zee's belief that we shouldn't care about getting invited to every event under the sun? Amen, because if we were that "lucky," we'd be exhausted!
What's your take on Joe Zee's thoughts on the fashion industry? Let us know in the comments!