Industry Voices – Olivia Pinnock


It’s time for the next in the Industry Voices series, and I welcome Olivia Pinnock on to the site, Olivia is an NCTJ trained fashion journalist, writes for several magazines, Editor at CAF Magazine, a copywriter, works with a vintage fair, and has recently founded The Fashion Debates a series of events looking at industry issues with panels of experts, (I have my tickets already), so the timing on talking to her about creating your own space in the industry is perfect and FW is always happy to talk about the industry issues.

FW Award nominated Stella Heng is on the debate panel (my feature on her label here)

“A new series of evening events invites both consumers, industry and fashion elite to come together and discuss the critical issues which plague one of the world’s most glamourous industries. The Fashion Debates, launched by fashion journalist Olivia Pinnock, looks to discuss the frustrations we feel towards the industry and aims to find a sustainable solution.”

Oh and Olivia was once an FW Award judge so you know she has impeccable taste.

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What did you want to be as a kid?

When I was really little I think I wanted to be a teacher. I can’t think of a job I’d like to do less now! I decided I wanted to be a journalist when I was 12 though and I’ve still not changed my mind.

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What’s the best lesson you’ve learned?

That being happy in your day-to-day working life is more important than having a job that looks great on your CV. Sometimes your dream job isn’t your dream job at all.

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What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned?

That no matter how much experience you have, people will always ask you to write for them for free.

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If you could give a young person one piece of personal, and one piece of career advice what would it be?

The personal advice I would give them would be to work on your confidence; it will set you up for life. Surround yourself with supporting and loving people, stop yourself from thinking negative thoughts and don’t say anything about yourself that you wouldn’t say about a friend.

The career advice that I would give them would be to not let anybody look down on you, or even hold yourself back from opportunities, because you’re young. Age has nothing to do with how smart, intuitive or passionate you are. I know a 16-year-old who has run her own teen zine and events company, Kychan Teen, since she was 13 and she’s far more capable than most new graduates I know. You will have to prove that to people though.

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Who inspires you?

The people who I interview. In a very basic way, without them I wouldn’t have anything to write! But also because I’m lucky enough to interview a lot of creative, entrepreneurial and interesting people whose experiences have given them a unique outlook on life. I feel really lucky to have a job that allows me to hear the stories of people who I might not otherwise have met.

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You are a journalist, work with a vintage fair, and have just launched The Fashion Debates, what gems can you share about time management?

Write lists, learn to discipline yourself and love what you do. You’re far more willing to put in the hours you need to if you love it!

Learn to say no to people but never go on about how busy you are, everyone’s busy and everyone’s idea of busy is subjective. If you missed your deadline or you aren’t going to take on a project someone has approached you about it’s most likely because you don’t want to do it, not because you’re too busy.

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The Fashion DebatesFashion Debates sees you creating a series of events looking at the key topics of the industry, what are they?

Our launch event is all about sweatshop labour. I wanted to start with a really strong topic and when I did some research, that came out as by far the biggest concern for people. There’s a lot of people already talking about it though and I want to look at some other issues that are not being so openly discussed, such as racism, fur and leather clothing and unpaid internships.

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Also on the subject of the debates, what makes a good panel, or speaker?

You have to be a confident public speaker and have a strong opinion. Go in knowing what you want to communicate to people.

People often remember – or will quote, if they’re reporting the talk – soundbite quotes, facts and practical advice. Try and be concise in the way you speak to make sure people take away valuable insight.

You’ve been asked onto the panel because you have something interesting to say, don’t be shy about it!

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You love vintage, is deciding to dress like Truman Capote for the rest of life a bit much, asking for a friend?

Absolutely not. Always be true to yourself, and if yourself dresses like Truman Capote, go for it.

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Which is worse, that piece of vintage you missed out on, or the night bus?

 Nothing haunts us like the vintage we didn’t buy. Then again, the things I’ve seen on the night bus are pretty haunting too.

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As a journalist, how do you find the balance between reporting fact, and placing the opinion formed from those facts into a piece?

That’s a great question. Ultimately you need both to make a good feature. Providing context and creating theories from the facts you uncover in your research and interviews is what makes a piece interesting and makes people think, but it should never be sensationalist just to get clicks. I think there’s a much bigger risk of that now that everything is online and everyone is competing in the same space for views. Sometimes it’s about stepping away from your writing, taking a break, coming back and reading it with fresh eyes to check it. Journalistic integrity should be innate in you, you should know if you’ve written something that doesn’t add up.

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Coming back to vintage, some people will say pick an era and stick with it, do you follow the rule or do you mix and match periods?

I’m definitely about mixing it up. I think people who dress head-to-toe in one era look amazing but I have quite modern taste. I wear vintage most of the time but I don’t think most people would know unless they asked me.

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Snog, Marry, Avoid, Kors, Lagerfeld, Hedi Slimane?

Snog Kors, Marry Hedi, Avoid Lagerfeld.

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With Ethics in fashion is it a bit chicken & egg, labels wont design for a demand the public hasn’t created?

Yes it is, but that’s why we can’t sit around waiting for the big labels to do something about it. Ultimately, I think it’s the big conglomerates and retailers who will have the most impact on a fairer fashion supply chain but we all have a role to play in it. Whether you’re a consumer who makes a commitment to shopping more ethically, or an MP who wants to introduce legislation to put pressure on retailers to be transparent, or an independent designer who is committed to producing your clothing under FairTrade standards, or a PR for a brand who wants to be brave enough to ask your bosses what you’re doing to be more sustainable; we can all do something. We shouldn’t have to feel guilty for shopping on the high street and we shouldn’t feel like we’re powerless.


You can find the event at 

and on social media at

You can find Olivia on her own website as well
The details of the first event are . . .
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An inspirational panel of women will join journalist and founder of The Fashion Debates, Olivia Pinnock, in discussing one of the most pressing issues facing the fashion industry today. The event, is titled ‘Can We Put an End to Sweatshop Labour?’ and aims to bring the public and industry together to explore this prolific problem. Lined up to join the debate are:

  • Carry Somers, Founder and Director of Fashion Revolution, the global initiative which encourages shoppers to ask retailers #whomademyclothes? The first Fashion Revolution Day took place on April 24th 2014 to mark the one-year anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster where 1,130 garment workers lost their lives when the factory they worked in collapsed. Since then, the Fashion Revolution campaign has spread to over 90 countries.
  • Clare Lissaman, Director of Ethical Fashion Forum and Mysource. The Ethical Fashion Forum is the industry body for sustainable fashion with over 10,000 members in 133 countries. Mysource is the latest evolution of Ethical Fashion Forum which aims to drive profitability for sustainable brands through connecting them to the resources they need.
  • Stella Heng, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Sports Philosophy, a sportswear brand dedicated to raising £1,000,000 to fight child labour by 2022. Combining stylish athletic wear, with ethical practices, Sports Philosophy donates 10% of its profits to its own charity, the Freedom for Children Foundation.

The Fashion Debates takes place on 19th May at 7 pm at the Condé Nast College of Fashion and Design. The event is open to all and tickets can be purchased for £10 at

About Ross Pollard

Since starting writing on my 31st birthday in 2011 I have held a number of positions at magazines and websites as well as regularly producing articles for numerous publications alongside contributing to TV & radio shows as a freelance fashion journalist including Hoxton Radio & Fashion One TV. Alongside writing, I have worked in other industries helping to design & grow digital platforms, develop businesses and support operations practices. This experience has proved invaluable in building an understanding of how businesses work, and the landscape in which retail, B2B commerce and other commercial operations develop. Knowledge of commercial interests has helped shape my fashion industry insights beyond critiquing of garments

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