Perhaps my longest relationship to date began as a teenager in the nineties. I grew up on a steady diet of magazines pouring over their pages for inspiration. The most notable of them being Details magazine. Through its various incarnations our relationship held fast and true. You can imagine my joy when I had the opportunity to speak with their Fashion Director Matthew Marden. I caught up with him as he talked about his role at Details and why there’s always the CIA to fall back on if things go wrong.

Tell us about how you got started in the industry.

My first job out of college was at the Staley-Wise Gallery in Soho, which was a gallery that specialized in fashion photography. The gallery has an amazing collection so I ended up learning a lot about the history of fashion through the artists they represented. A friend of mine was doing PR for Manolo Blahnik at the time and she hooked me up with a meeting with Michael Cannon at Town & Country. He was looking for someone to help him with the men’s fashion pages. We hit it off and I was hired as their Associate Men’s Fashion Editor. That was my first magazine job.

Describe your role at Details.

As the Fashion Director I am ultimately responsible for all the fashion in the magazine. Everything from what goes on the cover to what we shoot inside.

When storyboarding ideas how much does the collaborative process shape the outcome?

The outcome of an idea is always the result of a collaboration. That’s what I love about my job the most. Being able to work with such cool, creative, talented people. I’m really lucky in that regard. Of course it doesn’t always turn out the way I expected but that’s not always a bad thing. You have to be open to ideas from the photographer or the Creative Director or sometimes it’s the model and their style that will influence a shoot or even the way the groomer does the hair can often take it to the next level.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about what you do?

That it’s all glamorama. Yes, of course we are lucky to be in some extraordinary situations but in the end it’s a job and like any job you have to be prepared to pull your weight and work hard. And willing to do the work. There are no shortcuts.

How has the shift to digital changed the nature of what you do?

The best thing about digital and social media is that it allows you to reach a broader audience. Also, there is an immediacy that exists now which is really exciting.

What qualities do you possess that you think have served you well in your role?


Where do you source your inspiration?

Everywhere; movies, books, history, music videos, art, photography, people and nature.

At work what are the biggest challenges you face?

Sometimes the personalities of creative people can be a challenge. Mine included.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a Fashion Director?

I feel like I would have made a really good double agent for the CIA.

What advice would you give someone wanting to break into this industry?

Work hard and always write a hand written thank you note.

Follow him at @matthew_marden

Photo credit: Jennifer Livingston