Always In Style – Tracy Anderson interviews Laura Brown.
Laura Brown’s fashionable way of life, by Tracy Anderson – as featured in the spring issue of Tracy Anderson Magazine.
When I hop on a Zoom call with editor in chief of InStyle magazine and Australian native Laura Brown, she’s situated in her New York City apartment, editing shoots and overseeing the editorial operations for one of the largest and most celebrated fashion publications in the country. Despite working from home in the midst of a pandemic, Laura is still as proactive and hardworking as ever, churning out a steady stream of content for her readers.
In fact, this year has been one of InStyle’s best ones yet, thanks to Laura’s innovative ideas, collaborative spirit, and enthusiastic attitude. I’ve been a devoted reader of the magazine since the first issue in 1994, but watching the publication skyrocket under Laura’s wing has been incredible and impressive to witness. From covering breaking news to highlighting accomplished advocates, she has pushed boundaries that have transformed both the magazine and the fashion media landscape.
Not only is Laura a leader in the fashion industry, but she’s also a creative mind, a sharp intellect, a witty social-media personality, a political activist, and an all-around down-to-earth human with a refreshing personality. She is the kind of person who lights up the room with her warm sense of humor and infectious energy. For those who have the pleasure of knowing Laura, she is magnetic, and you can’t help but be drawn to her.
I’m such a huge fan of Laura’s and have been following her journey from the start, so I begin our conversation by expressing gratitude for the opportunity to learn even more about her. One of my favorite qualities about Laura is how she is authentically herself. She isn’t afraid to use her voice to communicate important messages and take a stance on controversial matters like politics. “A magazine without a point of view is nothing,” she tells me.
Laura moves the conversation forward by explaining that she started working for InStyle in 2016 right before Donald Trump became president, so she knew that she wanted to use her position to incite positive change. By venturing outside of the fashion and beauty realm and informing readers about pressing social matters, Laura was part of an iconic movement. “It’s my job as an editor,” she remarks. “We’ve been in this political season, and we’ve had to amp it up and get behind these certain states very, very intensely.”
Instead of telling readers what to wear or how to look, Laura redefines beauty as possessing intelligence, being an educated citizen, advocating for just causes, and having a voice. With a magazine full of meaningful truths and thought-provoking content, she encourages readers to adopt their own opinions. “It shows respect for the reader,” Laura states. “But if it’s something you don’t want to read, you can turn the page. That’s up to you as a reader, but as an editor, it’s my responsibility to give you that point of view.”
I then shift the discussion to highlight Laura’s relatable and joyful Instagram feed (@laurabrown99), and I ask how she developed so much confidence in herself. She explains that appreciating where she is in life and recalling all her accomplishments plays a role in feeling self-assured. “I’ve always been happy to be here in the United States, so I think if you’re happy to be somewhere, there’s a calm in you because you’re like, ‘Wow, look where I am now,’ ” she reflects. “There’s confidence in what you’ve built for yourself.” Laura is also fully connected with her inner child and continuously tells herself, “Do more of what makes you feel good and less of what makes you feel bad.” She’s able to live out her truth because she’s in tune with her own wants and needs and always follows her intuition.
Challenging the norms in the fashion sphere has also given Laura the courage to be herself, and that authenticity and vulnerability certainly shine through her work. I ponder about her creative strategy. “I don’t map out the year,” Laura clarifies. “It’s almost like the strategy in the excelling and the grown-upness gets on me a bit. I’d rather just do the work.”
I really admire how Laura creates from the heart. If she sees something she loves or thinks deserves recognition, she goes after it. She has an incredible pulse on newsworthy content, and she’s quick to adapt and respond to current happenings. For instance, she decided to recreate photographer Ormand Gigli’s 1960 photograph, Girls in the Window, at the beginning of the pandemic in May to comfort and empower her readers. “I was really thinking about the community and how isolated people were,” she says. “We were able to create an image that goes out into culture.”
Thanks to her open-minded, flexible approach, these challenging times seem to fuel Laura’s imagination. “We had our best year in spite of all this,” Laura declares. “It revved us up more and certainly revved me up more.” Of course, because Laura is the most humble and supportive person, she attributes a great portion of the magazine’s success to her team members and their ability to execute her big visions. “They have such pride and ownership and have seen how we’ve grown and what we’ve been able to do and how it’s been received,” she says. “They’re so excited. They’re up for a change.”
I really believe that because Laura has built such a fun, laid-back, enjoyable work environment for her employees and because she values them as human beings, her team is eager to excel and help one another achieve their goals. “I couldn’t work in another culture,” she declares. “I’m glad that I can contribute to running this culture and the company we have. I know other places don’t have it. Work is a place where you spend a whole lot of your energy and time, so it needs to be a pleasure.” Not only is Laura building a better world for her readers, but she’s also improving the lives of her colleagues.
I pivot the conversation to ask about the status of InStyle’s physical magazine during the rise of digital media. Laura tells me that the print and digital magazine build off of each other, so they’ve both been essential to InStyle’s growth. “The voice of the magazine has informed the website, and that’s why our magazine has jumped off,” she says. From podcast episodes to behind-the-scenes images to beautifully crafted stories, Laura is constantly putting out content on multiple platforms, and her passion for different types of media is what makes her work consistent and engaging.
Another one of Laura’s professional successes is her ability to capture the humanity of celebrities, so they seem relatable. “They’re movie stars, and they’ve got this and that, but they have good days and bad days, too,” Laura recounts. When composing the magazine, Laura makes sure to steer clear of compiling a group of the most popular and prestigious A-list celebrities and instead highlights individuals with substance and depth. “There’s a particular character to all these women,” the fashion editor explains. “There’s ownership and frankness. I’m not just chasing around ladies who have 100 million Instagram followers.” Featuring women for the positive change that they’re instigating is what makes her content so valuable and inspirational.
I shift the dialogue again and ask Laura what individuals within the fashion industry can do to protect the environment during a time when it needs us most. Laura emphasizes that businesses and entrepreneurs need pure intentions and passion to flourish in the fashion industry because consumers won’t support a cause that has little respect for the environment. “People who are in it for the wrong reasons aren’t gonna make it,” she advises. With her optimistic attitude and faith in humanity, Laura discusses how those who pour their heart and soul into their work will be rewarded, and that human decency will continue to expand, which is a phenomenon she likes to call “the island of good.”
Wrapping up our discussion, I mention Laura’s six-week-long road trip across the country, from New York City to Los Angeles. It was so beautiful and uplifting to follow Laura’s journey from coast to coast in an RV, so I wanted to learn more about how the experience affected her. “Just going through the country showed me how beautiful it is, how glorious,” she marvels. “It was just the greatest perspective.” Laura had wanted to travel across the United States her whole life, so when the opportunity presented itself and with remote work still in place, she took the initiative and followed her dreams. And that’s why she’s an inspiration.
Categorized under Fashion & Lifestyle