Vanessa Friedman is the Fashion Director & Chief Fashion Critic of The New York Times. Previously, she was fashion editor of the Financial Times, a position created in 2003 after the newspaper decided to invest in regular fashion coverage.
"Everyone gets up in the morning and they make a decision about what they’re going to put on their bodies. Therefore, it is something that we should look at and think about," she told The Cut. "Increasingly as information gets conveyed visually, whether it’s by a picture on a phone or online, the choices you make about what you put on are more important. So our attitude is, 'Let’s look at this, let’s think about why we’re making these choices, and what they mean, and what they can say to everybody else, and talk about it.'"
Friedman is widely acclaimed for her direct and pragmatic approach to the industry, as well as her incisive commentary on the socio-political ramifications of the role of fashion in today’s society. Her pragmatic attitude to the industry stems from her belief that fashion reflects and inherent aspect of the human psyche.
“It’s human nature to make judgments about other people and things, and the first thing you react to is how someone looks. When you’re a child, you do it, when you don’t know anything about brands. We may change our judgments, but [evaluating appearances] is absolutely one of the first things everyone does, and they’ve been doing it forever, long before the Internet. I don’t think it’s new, I just think it’s because of how information is consumed now, it’s just become more obvious."
Immediately preceding her appointment at the Financial Times, Friedman was the features and fashion features editor at InStyle, when the title was launched in the United Kingdom in 2000. Prior to this, she was an arts contributor for The Economist and the European editor-at-large for US Elle.
Friedman began her career as a freelance commentator on the fashion industry, contributing regularly to the Financial Times, American Vogue, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Entertainment Weekly.
Friedman is a graduate of Princeton University.