Fashion and Career: ELLE Fashion director, Josephine Aakrogh

Skabt af Ellen Hovmand
My girlfriendship with Josephine started just last year but grew quite rapidly. Especially this year when we were pregnant simultaneously – and even gave birth within four days of each other, crazy, right? Eddie is four days older than Josephine’s daughter.
We share a mutual love of food, fashion and long walks, which might sound like a personal ad, haha! She is wonderful. Down to earth. Easygoing. Thoughtful. Just easy.
It’s maternity-Jose, and it’s the tough career-Jose with wit and an enormous dedication and strength. It’s not often you meet people at our age who’ve been with the same company for a decade. But Josephine has. And that says something about the workplace; it’s wonderful. And it definitely also says something about Josephine as a capacity. She is so cool, so get to know her better. How far she’s got without a classic education – how a bit of courage and confidence can get you quite far.

Josephine Aakrogh, mode, modemagasiner, ELLE, Rockpaperdresses, Fashion Director, Nevernotgoing

Age: 30

City: Copenhagen

Occupation: ELLE Fashion Director (currently mat leave)


Josephine, you’re fashion director at ELLE. When and how did your dream of working in the fashion industry come about?

I actually don’t know exactly, but I’ve always swallowed fashion magazines, and my dad would drag home heaps of them from holidays for me – today, he luckily understands why.

What did you study to get there?

I have no further formal education than high school. I usually say that I’ve trained with ELLE. I never really loved school, and the idea of starting a degree only to drop out again never really appealed to me. So, as I was killing time after my high school graduation as a waitress at Sticks ‘n’ Sushi (where I met my current fiancé), I noticed that ELLE launched in Denmark. I’d always dreamed of working at a fashion magazine (but didn’t really know as what), and sent them an application in which I said that they definitely wouldn’t regret it if they hired me. Come January, it’s been 10 years since that day.

Lots and lots of girls dream of having a job like yours, and consequently the competition is hard. Explain what got you in?

I think it’s a mix of good timing and hard work. I was lucky to get in early on and be able to grow with the magazine – I’ve held various different positions matching my competencies and the editorial needs. It’s also important to emphasise that even though we work with pretty clothes and gorgeous shoes on a daily basis, it is still real work, and there are fun as well as less fun tasks – in other words, it is hard to climb the ladder, even in a world that appears so glamorous.

ELLE’s editorial department counts several people, who’ve been there since the launch in 2008 – that’s pretty impressive in an otherwise quite transient industry. What is it that makes ELLE so special that people tend to stick around?
We have an amazing manager in Cecilie (ed. Ingdal), who dares to throw us into new challenges. Several of my colleagues have had different roles over the years. And then I think it’s self-perpetuating; when other people in the team have been around for a while, you automatically want to stay as well.
What has been your most important decision so far, career-wise? Has there been a special moment, a special decision, a special networking meeting, which stands out in your mind as a game changer in your career?
I’ve learned to say what I really want and which direction I want my career to take. When you’re at the same workplace for 10 years, it’s vital to keep evolving, and if I don’t speak up, how will my manager know? It doesn’t mean that you always get exactly what you want, but often it has paid off – especially with some patience.

What has been the biggest challenge in your career so far?
It can be a challenge to work with deadlines, which we do at a magazine. Being a perfectionist with a busy schedule sometimes means compromising. It could be that a model cancels the day before a shoot, and even if there’s no optimal solution, over the years I’ve learned to not let it get to me and that things will work out.
Josephine Aakrogh, mode, modemagasiner, ELLE, Rockpaperdresses, Fashion Director, Nevernotgoing
What does a classic Josephine work day look like?
There are no classic days! But I typically have a bit of office time, where I check my emails, participate in editorial meetings or produce content for the magazine. Often I’m also out of the house, for fashion spread shoots, meetings with freelance photographers and stylists, checking out collection shows at PR agencies or the brands themselves, etc. Often there are dinners or other events. And then there’s obviously the Danish and the international fashion weeks in the spring and autumn, where I participate – that’s one of my favourite things about the job!

If you were to pin point one thing, which makes your workday special, the very best, what would it be?
Back when I started, I remember finding it so fascinating that I could geek out over a new pair of shoes, a special designer or a third very fashion-related topic with ‘real’ adult, professional people. Now it’s normal, and I still love it!
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We’re also both part of, as it were, not super environmentally friendly industry – the fashion industry weighs heavily when it comes to waste of ressources, carbon footprint, etc. What are your thoughts on this?
At ELLE, we do our part to address it, because it is an important topic, and I love that more and more brands prioritise sustainability on their agenda. As for myself, I attempt to only make purchases that will last for years. And I’m good at selling my things as well.

With this in mind, which movements do you see in the fashion industry these days? Are we moving in a greener direction? Are we moving fast enough?

Today, it’s almost impossible to launch a new brand without some sort of focus on sustainability, and I really like that. But it could definitely move faster.

The fashion and magazine industries both move at a fast pace. You’re always months ahead in terms of print deadlines. Over the years, you’ve started to experience increased competition from online platforms, influencers, etc. You have a pretty hardcore fashion week style with lots of travel, lots of destinations, lots of outfits etc. with constant time limitations – two times a year, even, all over the world. It blows my mind! Does it feel like a pressure?

I easily recognise the fast pace that you mention, but I’m trying to not let if affect me negatively. When my schedule is full of fashion weeks and events, I give it space and allow myself to prioritise it above most other things. I know that in these periods I don’t get to train as much as I’d have liked to, and that it doesn’t make sense to have a lot of social events on top of it. I’d rather dedicate myself fully to my job in these periods – especially seeing as fashion weeks are one of my favourite aspects of it.

As part of one of Denmark’s strongest fashion magazines, there’s a certain focus on you as editorial members. You’ve also become influencers, street style icons, etc. You have to be chic wherever you go, whether it’s during fashion weeks, work dinners, etc. How do you balance this? Do you jump into knitted socks and sweatpants as soon as you get home? Or, do you basically live in high heels, with immaculate hairstyles?
I LOVE changing into something comfortable when I get home. But I must admit that I’m vain enough to pull myself together a bit whenever I leave the house, because especially in Copenhagen it’s hard not to meet someone you know – professionally, for the most part. And then I would regret it if I were standing where in my sweatpants with greasy hair… That said, though, I don’t wear stilettos on Sundays – to me, a relaxed look could easily include messy hair (dry shampoo is my friend), minimal to no makeup, jeans and sneakers.
Josephine Aakrogh, mode, modemagasiner, ELLE, Rockpaperdresses, Fashion Director, Nevernotgoing
Everyone needs a timeout, perhaps especially today, where we are online and connected to everything and everyone all of the time. How do you unwind in your free time? 

I try to not have too many plans at night and on weekends, especially when everything is moving a bit fast. And then I watch a lot of tv shows. I also love cooking good food with my boyfriend. Our little daughter does take up a lot of our time, though🙂
Josephine Aakrogh, mode, modemagasiner, ELLE, Rockpaperdresses, Fashion Director, Nevernotgoing

How would you describe your personal style? Do you fall for trends or stick with a more classic look?
A mix. I let myself be fascinated with and inspired by trends, tend to pick out certain traits, insofar as they fit me – but I always return to classics. And then I LOVE my jeans, and I like geeking out over the perfect shade or fit.

What are your 3 best pieces of advice for women who aspire to work within the fashion industry?
Figure out what specifically it is that you want to do in the business – I receive incredibly many applications from girls just wanting to work with fashion, which makes it hard to help out. Ask and try things out, look into the different job types, and throw yourself into it. Don’t expect to get your dream job on day one; view it as a way of getting tuned into what you want to do. And prepare yourself for hard work – it’s all about making yourself indispensable.

Josephine Aakrogh, mode, modemagasiner, ELLE, Rockpaperdresses, Fashion Director, Nevernotgoing

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