Interview: Jelena Karakaš

Jelena Karakaš has been a collaborator of Textile Funzine for years. Together, we have “read trends” since 2010. The same year she launched her blog “Those who hate shoes, hate people” which proved to be one of the most exciting fashion web pages in the region. Professionally, she’s a journalist, and fans of printed publications have followed her work in L’Officiel, City Magazine, Hello!, Joy, Brava Casa… She stayed the longest in ELLE magazine, where she worked as an editor, and eventually as editor in chief of ELLE Decoration.

In late 2016 she decided to withdraw from the printing world and dedicate herself completely to her blog, social media and consultancy work.

Where are you, what are you, how are you?

I’m excellent, thank you for asking. I’m at home, in my pajamas, sipping tea. Actually, what am I talking about? I’m at work! My room is my workplace now.

Do online people really have more fun?

I can’t speak generally, but in my case – oh yeah! I manage my own schedule and more importantly – I can choose people and brands I want to work with. I have narrowed these down and I’m enjoying the fact I can give my time to only those I’m comfortable with and who inspire me. And then there’s also the fact I don’t have to chase my superiors (what superiors – ole!) to sign my annual leave request form, I can simply go anywhere, anytime I want. Just this fact is enough to put a smile on my face and keep it there.

Why fashion journalism is no longer “a job that a million girls would kill for “?

It is a really great job! Each day is a mix between a game and a challenge. I think since elementary school I had this clear idea that my place was in a glossy magazine and that was that. This idea quickly lead me to places I was supposed to be in. I’ve spent a fantastic decade working in glossy magazines such as ELLE and L’Officiel. I was fortunate to work with people who are extremely talented and lots of fun, which is why I don’t feel like a senior editor. I simply left when the energy became bad and when the entire industry slowly started to collapse. Unfortunately, the most talented people left first. I wish some of them would return to printing and creating. I really love magazines, I wish I had a local one that I could read and enjoy.

It is sad that globally more and more publications are being extinguished. I look at new niche magazines and I hope fashion journalism as we know it can survive.

How many more articles on “bloggers who live off their blogs” will we read?

I admit, at first glance, it does sound a bit silly. Even to me. However, only if we approach it superficially. Local bloggers aren’t particularly well known, but let’s start with what bloggers are! To be a blogger is not a profession. Each person with their own web address also have other occupations. There are excellent writers, journalists, photographers, stylists… Here, this is very rarely discussed, if at all, and there is this tendency to put all kinds of websites or blogs in the same sensationalistic compartment, one that says: “she dresses up and takes pictures and earns a lot of money”. Behind many blogs there is an equal amount of invested work as in articles and news published in other, conventional media. Here, we are used to demeaning other, even more demanding professions, so this is no exception. Most often, when people ask me about the blog, I lie and tell them I’m “just goofing off” and let them believe whatever they want.

I don’t have time to justify myself to anyone. If you work hard, honest and good, there is a possibility you could make a living out of it. Yes, it is that simple.

How much can one lie on social media?

Too much! Of course, it’s fun to direct your own life, to add a sprinkling of magic powder over sometimes boring everyday life, and use good framing to spice up boring situations. To me, this is fine and I support these exercises in creativity. Unfortunately, Instagram had long ceased to be what it was meant to be and has become a playground for vain and untalented people. Some followers you buy, some you acquire through the app, you add a couple of thousand through bogus contests, you join some groups and voila, you’re instantly important.

I roll my eyes uncontrollably whenever people start talking about “influencers”, and vast numbers of followers. I can’t even be shocked about it. Simply put, people have to learn to ignore poor content.

But, judging by the headlines on local websites and articles that are being pushed there, it seems they aren’t even trying. I live inside my own bubble, I follow a small number of truly creative people whose ideas constantly amaze me, and I still read blogs and websites that insist on being witty and creating interesting news. It’s possible to live life without being fed information that insult your intelligence and following people who are famous just because they exist. I hope others will realize this soon.

What has fashion gained with the development of social media?

Everything! Many things! As one of the most advanced industries, fashion has embraced the Internet and the social media from the very start. Twitter and Instagram were used as tools by fashion pioneers over ten years ago. Since that time, fashion had gone from being elitist to being democratic. The circle is almost complete and fashion is returning to its roots. Cool brands are slowly abandoning huge fashion shows and are beginning to organize smaller, more intimate presentations for a selected crowd. Influencers, with their millions of followers, are used exclusively as billboards and sales channels. While brands that are truly setting new trends and shaping fashion styles, stubbornly cooperate with only those people who fit accurately within their brand’s DNA.

Fashion has somehow pushed us all into the numbers hysteria and now they’re backing out.

Where is all this heading?

Because of algorithms controlling our lives, starting from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, even Netflix, we are all trapped in small circles. The “Discover” option is there only to show what we like and what our friends like. Never before did we have so many opportunities to truly explore and experience the world around us, yet we are bound by a series of ones and zeros formed by those who think just like us. The only solution is to go back to old-school research. Create your own algorithm, step out into the world! Do not shy away from things that don’t appeal to you, become an active participant. You can’t rely solely on social media, because you will get only one form of reality. Go out to film festivals, exhibitions, bookstores…

This is the reason books have not yet disappeared, or galleries, this is why people still go to the movies. Because there is still something magical about going out into the real world and sharing new experiences, there is a certain level of unpredictability, which is almost non-existent when you view the world through your smart phone.

Is day-dreaming actually mountain-climbing?

I’d have to say yes! Even though I usually look calm and composed on the surface, with a clear aim in front of me, most often I actually have no idea what I’m doing. To put it simply, I float until I reach the solution for my ideas. When I was younger, I used to believe everything had to have its form and shape, and that everyone around me fared better when dealing with real life, but since I’ve started measuring success by how happy I was at any given moment, it’s clear to me I didn’t make a “wrong turn at Albuquerque” at all. Quite the contrary!

So, where did it lead you to?

I am still very busy with my blog, I enjoy writing and sharing information. I also collaborate with local and foreign brands by providing them with guidelines which they use to find their own voice and direction in the world of social media. Together, we are working on creating strategies for social media presentation. My job is to follow trends in their inception and to implement these in creating content. I am far from being bored 🙂

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Textil - Interview: Jelena Karakaš