Tim Blanks

The Longevity of Tim Blanks: A Beacon in Fashion

Show Notes


Fashion journalist, writer, and broadcaster Tim Blanks has had a front-row seat to many defining, pivotal moments in the fashion industry since 1985. Throughout his prolific career, he has witnessed countless transformational trends, with his byline appearing in international magazines and newspapers, including Vogue, GQ, Financial Times, Fantastic Man, and Interview. Previously, host of the globally syndicated television show Fashion File for a 20-year stint, he was as well editor-at-large at style.com. Today, he is editor-at-large of Business of Fashion and a celebrated author and contributor to various monographs and volumes on fashion royalty, such as Anna Sui, Dolce & Gabbana, Alexander McQueen, and Michael Roberts. In this lively conversation with Christopher Michael, he contextualizes trends related to everything from branding and sustainability to creative talents and human needs, which attract people to the art of fashion. Tim's insights reflect a unique perspective on the industry's evolution and a deep, intuitive understanding of the vulnerabilities and desire for validation that drive even the most successful industry icons. Although Tim celebrates the fault lines he sees redefining today's fashion landscape with new inclusive language and geographic diversity, he also spotlights global issues such as social and environmental justice, prompting a reckoning of sorts within the fashion industry—and the world at large. Ultimately, it's all about keeping creatives relevant in an era of turbocharged change and adaptation. "These times demand urgency!"

Episode Highlights
  • Starting out: Starting university at age 15 helped him evade bullying and launched his experience of making “all those mistakes that change your life.”
  • Connecting with fashion: Tim’s limited exposure to fashion while coming into adulthood in New Zealand when he realized images had the power to shock or amaze.
  • First rung: A detour into filmmaking in Canada eventually morphed into freelance writing and, ultimately, a full-time gig at a fashion magazine and a high-visibility role hosting the global TV show Fashion File.
  • Staying fresh: Keeping something of an outsider’s perspective has helped blunt any cynicism about the fashion industry.
  • Inside-outsider: The curiosity—and an eye inspired by filmmaking—has defined Tim’s unique approach to fashion’s personalities and untold stories.
  • Reflecting and projecting: Fashion has a dual role as a mirror of culture and a harbinger of social trends on the horizon.
  • Wake-up call: The necessary evolution of fashion photography—sensitized, at times sanitized, and often driven by a fetishistic worship of the object.
  • Community of misfits: Tim believes fashion has historically drawn outsiders, agitators, and visionaries into a tribe bound by creative energy. A circus. A roving family!
  • Human longing: The “hole in our soul” Tim believes we are constantly trying to fill or offset with validation from our peers—an impulse at odds with how social media actually makes us feel.
  • Reluctant icon: Tim’s longevity and breadth of experience register as a superpower, giving him a mystique and identity as keeper of the flame.
  • Stand-out moments: Witnessing an interview in which LouLou de la Falaise was the translator for a reluctant Yves St. Laurent; 90s runway shows that were cultural high points, including spectacular shows featuring Alexander McQueen, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Christian Lacroix; and getting the opportunity to talk to Helmut Lang for the first time.
  • What’s coming next: The shifting geographic balance, away from northern hemisphere dominance and towards emerging fashion languages and identities.
  • Assessing AI: Tim believes that ChatGPT and other machine learning could create informational bridges and—with good intent—positive, beneficial results.
  • A sense of urgency: What seems like cataclysmic injustice today may not be unique, but it is coming at a rate that is hard for human nature to keep up with and absorb.
  • Tending his garden: Cultivating good health in the spaces around him is vital to Tim’s mission in a fast-evolving world full of hurt and uncertainty.
  • At odds: The challenge to reconcile environmentally wasteful “gigantism” and corporate sustainability in the billion-dollar corporate branding and production world.
  • What’s contemporary now? Simmering rage, confusion, chaos, fear, an urge to fight, and a puzzlingly benign (rather than punk) attitude in fashion in contrast to the climate crisis, political unrest, and pandemic fallout. What should be contemporary now? A revolutionary spirit to fuel change, even at great lengths. It’s time for idealism coupled with pragmatism, expressing itself in action—with fashion playing a part.
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