Fashion Editor Max Clark is a well-known name in the global fashion industry. Born in London, he was drawn to the culture of fashion at a young age. After graduating from the London College of Fashion in 2007, there was no question of which direction he would take his career. Upon entering the professional world, he accepted a position as a fashion and market editor for Arena Homme+, where he maintains a spot as a Contributing Fashion Editor, continuing to style covers and editorials.
In 2014, Max took on a position at ID Magazine, once again as a fashion editor. In the years to come, he has styled editorials and cover shoots for magazines such as British Vogue, GQ, the Wall Street Journal, M Le Monde, The Gentlewoman, W Magazine, Double, and Fantastic Man. Throughout his career, Max has collaborated with some of the biggest names in photography, like Juergen Teller, Tim Walker, Nick Knight, Alasdair Mclellan, Harley Weir, and David Bailey. These experiences taught him how to work well in a team setting.
Alongside his magazine work, Fashion Editor Max Clark has styled campaigns, look books, and catwalks for the likes of Prada, Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Supreme, Aries, Joseph, H&M, Cos, Adidas, Y-3, Nike, Jimmy Choo, MM6, Christopher Shannon, Maison Margiela, as well as a host of other renowned companies.
Having worked with such high-end brands and clients, Max Clark, Fashion Editor, eventually struck out on his own. Now a freelance fashion consultant and stylist, he travels frequently for work, styling for celebrities such as Anthony Joshua, Marcus Rashford, Willow Smith, Javier Bardem, Dave, Stormzy, Laim Payne, Grimes, Little Simz, Christian Pulisic, Bukayo Saka, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Rag’n’Bone Man, Hector Bellerin, and Jared Leto.
In his free time, Fashion Editor Max Clark enjoys travelling, some of his favourite destinations being South America and India, which he has previously visited on research trips. He enjoys discovering some of the best eateries, from hard-to-find local restaurants to iconic institutions. He also loves taking long walks with his dog, especially discovering new places along the river Thames. Fashion Editor Max Clark is a passionate Londoner and wants to discover everything there is to do in his favourite city, although he admits that’s not possible, which is probably why he loves living there.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
From a young age, I’ve been obsessed with style, especially the intersection of style with youth culture, clothing, and music. I’ve never been particularly interested in fashion trends. I’ve always been more excited by the culture surrounding certain movements. Whether that be punk, mod, casuals, or any kind of youth culture, these movements are all-encompassing, all involving elements of music, hair, makeup, and nightclubs. But it was always the clothing that drew me in most. I discovered through reading youth magazines such as ID, Arena, and NME, that you could find all those exciting aspects of youth culture and express them through fashion editorials. I studied fashion design at university, but my taste never stayed the same long enough for me to evolve my own identity as a designer. I knew that for styling, although it was important to develop your own voice, I could be inspired by and replicate many different cultures within the pages of magazines. That format also allowed me to constantly adapt my tastes and give thoughtful explanations as to why I did so.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
It’s no secret that the fashion industry is very cyclical and seasonal. It really depends on the time of year as to what my typical day might look like. For example, as a fashion editor, I travel to New York, London, Milan, and Paris for the men’s and women’s fashion shows. These take approximately an entire month each season. This is the time when designers present their new collections to the press and buyers. Once the shows are finished, we come together as a magazine and discuss what inspired us and how we’d like to reflect that in the upcoming season’s issues. We brainstorm about individual fashion stories, who to photograph to best portray them, and what sort of character represents that story. Styling is not just about working with clothing, you have influence over casting, locations, lighting, hair, and makeup. It’s all very collaborative, but it’s up to you to inspire the team with those ideas. That is probably my favourite time of the season—researching and brainstorming ideas.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I try to trust my judgement and instincts. If I feel like I have been particularly excited by a certain style or culture recently, I trust that as a natural instinct for what might be relevant to a fashion trend. So, I try to form ideas around what I’m naturally attracted to. Many times, I’ve found that some of the latest fashion collections include clothing relevant to those same ideas, and when that’s the case, I know I’m on to something. I then try to think about the character who might be wearing such fashion: who they are, how old they are, where they live, who they hang out with, etc. Casting is probably the most important factor in creating a believable idea. You could have an amazing image of someone wearing a white t-shirt because it is the casting and the character that brings it to life. You have to ask yourself: Are the casting and the character that brings it to life right for the photo session, right for the moment, and right for the brand or the designer? Is it good enough to make it a memorable image? To me, that still counts as great styling—knowing when to pare back the clothes so that the character is more pronounced.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Trends don’t particularly excite me. By that, I mean, not the kind of trends that Trend Report covers. They tend to be quite obvious. For example, they might see that lots of designers are using red in their collections, therefore Trend Report writes that red is a trend. That doesn’t really mean anything to me. Instead of reading that kind of thing and parroting it, I’ll try to look at what’s happening in the world at the time.
In fact, hardly any of my ideas start with a clothing reference. One of my favourite stories that I’ve worked on lately was inspired by the idea of what masculinity means in this day and age. With that thought in mind, we travelled throughout the UK looking for interesting characters that we felt represented modern masculinity. And that fought against traditional stereotypes. There was a lot of stuff in the media at the time around gender, and I wanted to show what our point of view was. That, to me, is a more interesting way of reporting a trend; something that’s happening in the wider culture, not just in the fashion world.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Being a stylist is all consuming, so you really have to live and breathe what you do. I try to find inspiration in everything around me, whether that be when I’m travelling, the interior of a restaurant, or picking up on the styles of classic films. You have to pick up the habit of always thinking about how what you are doing can inform your own work.
I’m quite stubborn, but I feel that can be a positive. When I have an idea or a certain way of doing something, that’s something that I will always really push—which is not to say that I’m not collaborative. I’ve been lucky to often be in a position to choose people I really respect to work with. If you’ve been commissioned or employed to do something, you should be confident to speak your mind and express your ideas. So, I believe my conviction has made me more productive, and ultimately produced better results.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would say there is no need to rush. You don’t have to have a huge body of work straight away. Choose carefully which photographers and publications you work for. When you’re choosing a photographer, think about whether this could become an ongoing relationship. Only work with the people you’re confident you’ll work with in the future multiple times. It’s about quality, not quantity. Don’t try and overproduce or do everything that pops into your mind straight away. Try to make sure everything you produce is timeless.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Long haul flights are the best way to switch off and relax.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Make lists. I always make lists. I can’t do anything without a list. I couldn’t keep everything together without having a visual representation of the tasks ahead of me to look at.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I would say that developing a strong, close-knit group of collaborators is one of the hardest things about starting out in this industry. In my case, I had to experiment with different creatives before finding the ones I really found a connection with.
When the work you’re trying to produce doesn’t quite look the way you envision, it can be frustrating and it can feel like you’re not getting anywhere. When you find those people that really get what you’re trying to say, you have to hang on to them. Cultivate those relationships and work on them. It can become an almost telepathic experience when you find the right photographer; one who can properly capture your ideas. Building a team that understands what you’re trying to accomplish is the key to everything.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Learn how my role differs from an editorial to a commercial job. When you first start in this industry, you start as a magazine stylist and work on editorials. The editorials are really about your ideas and what you want to get across to the reader. As you grow, you start to work with brands and commercial clients. It’s a completely different way of working because you’re now working within the framework of what the brand wants as its vision. When I first started, I was trying to find the balance between those two concepts, all the while finding the right balance between making sure my opinion is put forward and allowing the brand’s identity to be the main focus. It comes down to experience. Although a job like this is very creative in nature, it’s also highly professional and I take that very seriously. I am very experienced and professional, without that, you won’t get very far. You have to learn on the job to gain that experience. Once you learn those fine lines about the different types of jobs that you’ll be commissioned for, you’ll overcome those obstacles.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I would absolutely love it if someone could create a courier service that actually delivers on time. The fashion industry would love them. I think several industries would love them.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently started subscribing to The New Yorker magazine. I love to read a lot, especially non-fashion magazines. I have quite a few subscriptions, some favourites being The World of Interiors, Vanity Fair, and The Financial Times. But I started The New Yorker last year. I really enjoyed the interview with Jeremy Strong who plays Kendall Roy in succession, my favourite show of the last few years. For what it’s worth, I disagree with the interviewer; I think he gets the joke. As well as Fran Leibovitz’ one star reviews on Amazon, she’s a genius. I love her outlook on the world. More people should think like her.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I love spreadsheets. That probably doesn’t always fit in with the typical image of a creative person’s job, but I can barely do anything without them. Starting a list or creating a spreadsheet just makes my life so much easier. They have helped me process and plan out what I’m going to do and keep track of what’s happening. I’ve got spreadsheets for so many things that probably don’t really need to be spreadsheets, but I can’t help it.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I recommend The Way We Wore by Robert Elms. As a writer in the early 1980’s, Robert Elms was there when style magazines first came to prominence. He was the perfect age to experience Punk in the mid-70’s as a child and then transition through post-punk and new romantic, through to Acid House in the late 80’s, and his book documents his experiences with music and captures the prevailing styles during that time. That’s probably my favourite period of history, as well—at least regarding music and fashion. If you are interested in style and culture, it’s a must-read. It’s about music and clubs and clothes and bands. It’s one of my favourite books.
What is your favorite quote?
“Always pass on what you have learned.” — Yoda.
- Be creative.
- Be willing to learn new things.
- Follow your passions.
- Be professional.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.