Panelists discuss fashion industry, career advice at WBUR CitySpace


Renée Abbott

Fashion experts at the F.U.N Lives On panel pose for photos at the end of the event. Hosted at WBUR’s CitySpace, the speakers discussed everything from sustainable fashion to career advice.

Renée Abbott, news staff

Three fashion experts spoke about  directing fashion photoshoots, taking shots with Cardi B, being a writer, career advice and more at WBUR’s CitySpace venue March 3. 

The panel was part of Living Arts Week, presented by the Boston Chamber of Commerce’s City Awake program and MadeINcubator, and sponsored by ARUP and branding company Jack Morton. 

Boston Living Arts Week stretched from March 1 to 4 and consisted of two panels, a competition showcase and a final fashion show the last day. 

All three panelists shared different insights and perspectives into the fashion world. 

Nandi Howard, a 27-year-old content director at Essence Magazine, told students and attendees her motto: “Be cool.” 

“You just have to be confident and be cool. Don’t be awkward, don’t be weird,” Howard said.

At a club in Houston, she saw Cardi B and introduced herself to her and her publicist. She took shots with them. A few months later Howard was flown out to her house to do an interview, she told the audience. 

Howard also offered career advice. She emphasized respecting your boss, being confident in your own ability and always being yourself, especially in a world where creative and authentic people are needed. 

“You’re going to hear a lot of noes before you hear yeses,” Howard said. 

Panelist Ariel Foxman also comes from a writing background. He previously served as the editor-in-chief of InStyle Magazine, and has worked at the New Yorker, Condé Nast and Vanity Fair. Currently, he is the general manager of Boston Seaport. He emphasized the importance of listening to mentors, encouraging young people to present their best selves. 

“You learn quickly that everyone is always learning, don’t get yourself freaked out,” Foxman said. “It took me a long time to realize that many of the people who are experts in this space, are just folks who are really passionate about it and put in the hours.”

Foxman said that fashion, and the idea of fashion, has evolved over time. Between people’s affinity for casual wear, the pandemic, gender inclusivity and climate change, the arena of the field is being reshaped and creativity is what is driving it, he said. 

Panelist Evan Crothers is currently the art director at Rue Gilt Group and oversees three photoshoots a week. He began his career as a musical theatre performer, then transitioned to being a casting assistant and a fashion stylist before becoming art director. 

He compared himself to the captain in the cheeky Bravo show “Below Deck,” because he has to control the organized chaos of a fashion shoot and do planning behind the scenes to ensure the vision comes together. When it comes to fashion shoots, he said that while he has a vision and ideas, he remains open to any inspiration or feedback from other people on the set. 

“You don’t have to lose yourself in order to work well with others,” Crothers said. 

After the conversation, the panelists answered live questions by audience members.

Attendees also had the opportunity to network amongst themselves and meet the panelists after they spoke. 

Northeastern second-year economics and psychology major Justine Tam said she enjoyed the panel but was surprised by the career advice. 

“I think it was honestly very very controversial compared to what we normally hear. As an econ major, I am always given very specific business advice, which is very different from the creative world,” Tam said. 

Jessica Sanon, a senior program manager at CityAwake Boston, said she was impressed by the “synergy” between panelists. 

“It was a lot of work to understand what it is that people want to talk about within this panel,” Sanon said. “But the moment that they went on the stage, it was worth it.”