Industry Interviews

Gylnis Traill-Nash The Australian fashion editor

September 01, 2014

What is your title?

Fashion editor of The Australian

Describe your role.

Diverse! I write across all sections of The Australian – upfront news, features, columns, online, Wish magazine and The Weekend Australian   magazine. Lots of deadlines, lots of words each week.

How long have you been in your current role?

4.5 years.

What inspired you to become a writer?

I’ve always enjoyed writing, it just seemed to come naturally – certainly maths and science never did – but it’s wonderful to continue honing something no matter how many years you’ve been doing it.

Was writing your initial intended career path?

Not exactly. I spent most of my 20s performing in music theatre and singing in jazz clubs – from Perth to London, Edinburgh to Sydney. Good times!

How did you get started in the fashion writing industry?

Coinciding with my more, shall we say, theatrical endeavours, I needed to pay the bills. I was a sub-editor for 10 years, which is great training for a writer. When I moved to Sydney from London, I started at Who magazine as a sub – an amazing place to work – and four years later I got a call from InStyle upstairs, suggesting I apply for the role of fashion news editor.

How has writing as an industry changed since you first started?

We really didn’t know when we had it so good – the luxury of simply putting out a magazine each month, without a website or social media to deal with. Overall, I think everyone is working harder, producing more, and multiskilling more than ever. At its best it’s exhilarating, at its worst – exhausting.

After holding editorial roles at publications including InStyle, Grazia, The Sun-Herald, The Sunday Telegraph and now The Australian, what has been the most important thing you have learned in these roles?

To be flexible, but still hold your own voice – and be consistent in quality. Each publication, has its own readership and reason for living, so as a writer you need to address that. I’m so happy that at The Oz they appreciate the quirky as much as the serious, so I can have a very broad range to write within.

As fashion editor of The Australian, what does you writing aim to offer the fashion community?

It’s more about what I can offer the readers. I enjoy being a part of the fashion community, but it’s really in more of an observatory capacity as a journalist. I am pitched innumerable products and stories, but ultimately I have to decide what is appropriate for our readership, and what any column inches will offer them. That said, it’s exciting to uncover great new talent and report on their journey. I remember writing about Dion Lee while he was still at design college. And I increasingly enjoy being able to act in an advisory capacity, having watched so much happen over the past decade. We are going through interesting times…

What, in your opinion, is the future of Australian fashion?

I think the future is extremely exciting – but we are going through a difficult transition period. The industry has changed so much in just the past five years, and I think a lot of designers and companies are finding it confusing to translate that into what is effectively a global market now. It is still possible to have a small and successful company that focuses on the local market, but to really build a strong business, you have to cater to the international market, and that means being prepared and tweaking product offering for both hemispheres. And we are going to have to learn that investment is not always a dirty word – but be very careful what you sign.

With international online retailers launching in Australia, how important is it for the Australian fashion industry to support home-grown companies?

The truth is that with that globalisation, it is now a consumer’s market. Shoppers have never had it better. When Sephora opened it absolutely shook up the beauty industry in the same way the international high street and online retailers have changed the Australian fashion landscape. Customers need to want to support local companies – which means that retailers and designers alike need to keep their interest, put customer service above all else and innovate like never before. Of course, if the government would sort out the taxes on imported online goods, that would help the local industry immeasurably.

If you hadn’t become a writer what other career path would you have chosen?

Oh, I’m still hoping to be the late bloomer of the jazz world! I’ve been singing for 20 years now, and was very focused on it for many years, first in Perth, then London and Sydney. I’ve had some amazing teachers, including the extraordinary Ian Shaw in London, who really took me under his wing, and the late Kerrie Biddell here in Sydney. Although I had done very well in London – my quartet was finally headlining at Pizza on the park among other venues, and I’d even survived the Edinburgh Fringe with a successful solo cabaret show – I was just worn out, so came to Sydney for a six-month break and ended up staying. Ironically, although I’ve done some great musical work here, the more I focused on music, the better the day job became. Did I mention my CD, GT Nash “After Blue”, is finally on iTunes? Shameless plug! Lately I’ve been getting behind the microphone again, which has been such a joy (I usually plug gigs via social media – see below).

What are you reading online?

I have to read so much for my job that I tend to go to news sites, usually The Times, WSJ, Business of Fashion, New York Times, The Guardian, British Vogue…

What is your opinion on the role of the blogger.

I think the blogger has now risen and plateaued. There seems to have been a calming down in the past year. I was at the Dolce & Gabbana show in 2009 when they put the bloggers in the front row for the first time – quelle scandale! Even Domenico Dolce suggested when I interviewed him recently that they tried it out, but that that time was over. People will continue to blog, bloggers are part of the landscape, and some will make a success of it. I think the ones who have made it to the top of the heap will probably stay relevant as they have found a certain credibility, but I don’t think we will ever see that frenzy again. We’ll be on to the next thing.

What is your view on social media?

I’m an avid Twitter user – despite the fashion fraternity being much more across Instagram. But I’m all about words. Even just for those 10 minutes on the train morning and night, it’s perfect for bite-sized pieces of news and opinion and, of course, cat pictures. The perfect mix. I do Tweet quite a lot, but can go for days without – I’m not constantly plugged in. I’ve taken to Instagram more avidly lately, which if you were to look at my feed is largely fashion and my feline. Even then, I pay as much attention to the words as the pictures. You can follow me on both here @glynistn.

How has social media affected print media in your opinion?

Stories that break online immediately get take-up on social media, so it is very immediate and very useful in that news-disseminating sense. It’s also a really useful tool for starting conversations around stories in the paper, and I love engaging with readers that way – I’m always delighted when people get in touch with comments. They’re not always nice, but at least they’re reading, right?!

Are you happy doing what you do?

Absolutely – there is never a dull moment. I work with incredibly smart, passionate people who are brilliant at what they do. What’s not to love?

What is next? Where do you hope to be in 10 years from now and what will you be doing?

Of course, I hope to still be here. Otherwise in a jazz dive in Paris singing some standards…

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