Odessa Paloma Parker is a proud U of T alum and the current Fashion News Director at FASHION Magazine, an inclusive brand that believes in “#FASHIONforall” and provides readers with inspiring and informative context.

We had the pleasure of interviewing Odessa and learning all the insights of her personal journey, as she provides tips for students interested in pursuing careers in fashion and discusses the future of the industry. She takes the time to share her extensive experience in the fashion industry and the importance of supporting local brands and vintage shopping. Odessa’s love for all vibrant colours, patterns, and accessories, makes her a wonderful inspiration to everyone who hopes to succeed in this industry.

Background

When did you realize you wanted to make fashion your career or have you always known? 

I’ve always had an interest in writing, design, photography, and self-expression, even from a very young age. But it wasn’t until I was in university when I realized I could make a career of those interests; I worked for the student newspaper at St. Michael’s College when I was at U of T, and in addition to covering music and theatre stories, I also developed and ran my own fashion-focused page for a year.

What is your go-to accessory that you believe can elevate any look? 

Hmm good question; I do love scarves, but I have so much jewellery–mostly earrings, brooches and necklaces–that all bring me a lot of joy.

Career Path

What are some key steps in your journey that led you to your position as Fashion News Director at FASHION magazine? 

My career path has been quite non-linear so I’m not sure I have specific “steps” that I followed…I will say that having qualities like being tenacious, being comfortable with public speaking, having the ability to think creatively, and being a good collaborator have all been very important for my professional growth. 

I like to keep an open mind when it comes to opportunities and I’m always keen to explore things that might be a bit out of the ordinary. I’ve made a career out of focusing on unique stories rather than following the status quo, and I think that vision was very appealing to FASHION’s EIC, Bernadette Morra, as she was building a team for the magazine’s re-brand earlier this year.

I’ve made a career out of focusing on unique stories rather than following the status quo.

What has been your favourite event you have attended or article you’ve written throughout your career? 

Attending London Fashion Week for several seasons has been a true career highlight for me. Not only is the creativity of the designers who show there unparalleled, but I’ve met many interesting people and gained a lot of insight into what the fashion industry could be like in the future.

Some of my favourite interviews include Anna Sui, Dries Van Noten and Mickey Boardman.

What inspired you to create Vintage Crawl Toronto? Why do you believe it is important for consumers to have a greater awareness of the need for sustainability in the fashion industry?

I came up with the idea for VCTO after a few major fashion cities developed the ‘Fashion’s Night Out’ event in response to a recession and its impact on fashion businesses. I have been a vintage consumer since high school, and always appreciated its uniqueness, its sustainability component, and the fact that I’m putting money into a local, largely independently-run economy. 

Consumers need to have a greater awareness of sustainability because it doesn’t only have environmental consequences; sustainable manufacturing also has ethical implications. One example is the dyes used in clothing; they don’t just damage water sources and the surrounding ecology–they are also harmful to the workers who use them.

Advice for Students

My biggest tip for those entering the industry is to have your own perspective about the fashion world – what unique and relevant insights do you bring to the table?

As Commerce students, it can be so confusing for us to know what jobs exist in the fashion industry. Can you highlight some roles you have had and what they consist of?  

  • Fashion News Director/Fashion Editor – Strategizing, producing, and managing relevant editorial content
  • Head of Content – This was my role at Canada’s first luxury cannabis company; my job involved the above (but the editorial focus was cannabis-related) as well as developing a podcast series, managing events and public speaking, and developing and managing brand identities
  • Stylist – Producing and managing photo shoots in both Canada and abroad

Future of the Fashion Industry

Where do you believe the biggest change is needed in the industry? 

Consumers need to be more mindful about where they’re spending their dollars and focused on supporting small businesses and independent artisans whenever possible. And brands need to think more about the materials they’re using in their pieces, either innovating in the recycled textile space or through upcycling.

The more the media can nurture that concept of self-expression over commerce and commodification, the more brands will adopt inclusive and sustainable practices because their customers demand it.

How do you see the fashion industry and your role in it changing in future years? 

I think as time goes on–and this is something we’re already doing at FASHION–the role of fashion journalism will be more focused on storytelling and connection than on trend forecasting and reporting. People want to know how fashion applies to their own individual lives, and the more the media can nurture that concept of self-expression over commerce and commodification, the more brands will adopt inclusive and sustainable practices because their customers demand it.

RCFG is incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to interview such an influential member in the world of fashion, who has been committed to making sustainable changes and sharing stories of individuals in the fashion community. We can’t thank Odessa enough for taking the time to share her experience and advice with us!

All pictures are from Odessa’s Instagram. Keep up with Odessa via Instagram and make sure you follow her latest articles and interviews at FASHION.

– Katie Brasseur