Embracing Change with Eric Rutherford
"There is nothing like holding the pages of a new magazine showcasing the stunning work of Steven Meisel or styling of Edward Enninful."
Words by Eff Ulloa | Photography by Adrian Martin
Change is inevitable and evolution is part of our history. We evolve to better ourselves, to adapt to change, but most importantly, we evolve to survive. This forced evolution, for the sake of surviving, is something that is happening in print media with the introduction of the Internet and social media. Understanding how to change and mold to the times is essential in finding success within today’s fashion industry. The traditional model of fashion and print media has been challenged by arrival of the Internet and is forcing many to adapt to this change or risk the chance of becoming irrelevant. Someone who is very familiar with this need to evolve and adapt to the changing times is Instagram’s popular silver fox, Mr. Eric Rutherford.
For some time now, there has been a misconception that print is no longer relevant in the fashion industry and in the lives of fashion enthusiasts. The Internet came and conquered, but it has not ended print. If anything, it has reassured the importance of quality. As the Internet challenged the status quo, it forced many to get up and push out nothing but great work. Settling for something below average is no longer an option, and Mr. Rutherford understands this from his hands on experience in the industry. Who better to cover the first issue of the Men's Fashion Post journal than the man who is a clear example of how to adapt to change?
Eric started his career in the fashion industry as a model while in high school and later moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting over 25 years ago. Along the way, Eric struggled with the rejection faced in the modeling industry and decided to step away. Shortly after, he began a successful career in producing events whilst simultaneously immersing himself into the world of social media.
It intrigued us to discover what Mr. Rutherford thought of the changing landscaping in the way media is presented from print to digital. We wanted to know about Mr. Rutherford’s opinion on the increasingly popular term “print is dead” and why is has fostered so much attention in recent years.
MFP: For a well rounded and seasoned menswear connoisseur, what is your take on the idea that “print is dead?”
MR. RUTHERFORD: I don't think print is dead at all. The traditional approach and old perspective of print is the part that's dying. Like all media and entertainment, it must constantly evolve how it is created, expressed and shared. Because it appears that there are a seemingly limitless number of platforms for people to get information, discover images of fashion and beauty, the print medium needs to create something that is desirably unique. There is nothing like holding the pages of a new magazine showcasing the stunning work of Steven Meisel or styling of Edward Enninful. And then ripping out those pages to pin up as inspiration or reference. The term 'print is dead' gained power because it packs a truthful punch with a powerful meaning to many, many people in the industries it affects. Plus, it's short, catchy phrase that is easy for people to say. It's here to stay...at least for a little while.
Tell us more about print and digital and the importance of having both.
MR. RUTHERFORD:Everyone needs a digital presence that represents your creative vision consistently. Print is a physical extension of that vision. Many of my friends, ranging from Editors in Chief to Publishers, Creative Directors to Sales Executives, have been dealing with the changing landscape of print media for years. No one knows the right answer right now but they are all trying to find it.
MFP: What do you think the future holds for the industry with this see-now buy-now trend?
MR. RUTHERFORD:It’s no longer a trend as it's not going away anytime soon. Every brand and retailer is trying to figure out how to best adapt to the wants and needs of their customer while also not losing the integrity for what they have created. There is a reason Valentino and Gucci are different than Zara and H&M. A brand must be able to react to this new immediacy created through social media. Many0y luxury brands are adapting some of the quickness of fast fashion brands so as to satisfy this public urgency. Burberry has been a leader in this strategy but is still perfecting it.
MFP: Would you elaborate on how the digital world and social media has changed your career in the fashion industry?
MR. RUTHERFORD: My career today wouldn't exist without the influence and support of social media. I had left the world of entertainment and modeling years ago. I needed to grow and evolve as an individual. I needed to find work that wasn't infused with daily rejection or doubt. I stumbled into event production which opened doors for me. I started working with companies whose main clients were brands that ranged from movie studios to fashion houses. With each launch of a new product or film, every brand began to ask about their social media activations. I loved helping my clients grow their presence and build buzz around their product. I enjoyed helping to create experiences that were emotionally memorable. Many of my social media posts were from behind the scenes, sharing the story of what happened before the big reveal and the work that went into it all. People began to follow me to see what I did. Brands began to reach out to me specifically to attend their events as a guest.
All of this coincided with the rise in interest for older men with salt and pepper hair. At one point, a casting person told me I was 'trending' (because of my hair). Seemingly it appeared that I was in the right place at the right time. People were finding me on Instagram and then sharing my pictures. While my following grew, more people discovered me in the fashion industry who then wanted to work with me. Because of my background working with brands, I was able to embrace this new interest and help it grow into where it is today. I signed with IMG last fall who have been a tremendous support in growing and shaping the next chapters of this career journey.
MFP: We want to know if you ever reminisce on memories of how the fashion world was before the internet and social media? If so, what special moment can you share about being internet-free?
MR. RUTHERFORD: I love the access and freedom one can find because of the Internet. One of the aspects that I might say that I miss would be the excited anticipation for the new issue of GQ or Vogue to arrive in your mailbox or newsstand. Or watching an awards show to see what someone was wearing. I still savor walking into my favorite magazine store on 8th in the West Village to see all the new editions in full, glorious print.
MFP: What experiences do you have the Internet to thank for?
MR. RUTHERFORD: The list is too long and too in-depth to share all the reasons why the Internet is special. One of the reasons why it is special is that it allows people around the world to discover other cultures, communities, and life expressions that they would never have known. It connects people who feel alone or want to build a community of others. It opens windows to creativity and inspiration that would normally be closed to most. It offers new opportunities every second so that one can always embrace second, third, or fourth chances to rewrite life chapters or learn how to write them.
MFP: And finally, what advice do you have for a young in-print and online publication like Men’s Fashion Post? What is something you know has made the greatest of publications fail? By the same token, what has made young publications successful?
MR. RUTHERFORD:Be consistent with your vision and quality of your content. Many have failed trying to be all things to all people on hopes of gaining a larger audience. You will water down the uniqueness of Men’s Fashion Post if you do, making it less instead of more. Be sure to always focus on creating GREAT content because something can be very pretty but if there's isn't any substance to go with it, no one will want to read it again and again. There are too many options out there to be lazy with your passion. Especially with print. Always aim to create an authentic, interesting and exciting expression in print and online which supports each other and vibrantly enriches the reasons to produce both.
Mr. Rutherford highlights the disruption the Internet had on the industry, but emphasizes that in order to stay relevant we need to embrace the changes. The plethora of information flowing into consumer’s hands due to the presence of the Internet has reshaped how the fashion industry and magazines work. This instant gratification of having the world at our fingertips has been amplified by social media tools like Instagram, which contribute to this era of fast fashion and a general deterioration of the quality in content. In spite of that, there are currently big changes coming to the world of fashion and print media. As Mr. Rutherford so generously shared, quality is key in any successful venture. We are now seeking the pushback on the diluted content that exists on the Internet, and are aiming to fulfill the large need for quality content. We will be sure to take on the advice of Mr. Rutherford and join the list of print and online publications that are dedicated to creating quality content.