That’s Not My Age Podcast Episode 9: Caryn Franklin
Caryn Franklin, 61, is a brilliant woman. One of fashion’s tribal elders, the visiting professor, journalist, stylist, producer, author, campaigner and activist has worked in the industry for nearly 35 years. Starting her career as fashion editor on i-D magazine in the 1980s, Franklin went on to spend 15 years presenting and directing The Clothes Show for the BBC, working in education and as a business ambassador before co-founding All Walks Beyond the Catwalk with Debra Bourne and Erin O’Connor. She has travelled all over the world, from war zones to workshops, and remains a pioneering voice for diversity, equality, inclusion and sustainable practices. We met briefly when I was a fashion editor and then got to know each other properly when collaborating on a number of research projects through the Diversity Network (this was when I was lecturing in journalism part-time).
In midlife, with numerous responsibilities and work commitments, Caryn admits to having experienced a ‘Breakdown Breakthrough.’ Overworking, not sleeping and not listening to her body had a serious impact, ‘When I stopped I was really ill,’ she says, ‘and since I’ve recognised my limitations I have become much more humble.’ Returning to study for an MSC in Applied Psychology, in her 50s, she now adds visiting professor at Kingston School of Art to a long list of achievements. Describing herself as a ‘disruptive fashion lover’, Caryn Franklin continues to work in the fashion industry and to use her position as a force for good. As far as Caryn is concerned, it’s the people that count, ‘I am hugely privileged to have met wonderful people from all over the world….individuals that have aroused in me the most respect and excitement. That for me is where I feel my heart connected.’
Believing that confidence and authenticity come with age, in this outstanding podcast episode Caryn Franklin talks about the power of grey, the representation of older models and the joy of ageing. ‘I love getting older,’ she tells me, ‘I’m in the joyous and adventurous journey towards crone-hood. We have huge power because we are not playing the game. We are not decorative set dressing in a man-made world, we are women with power and wisdom.’
We talk about sustainability in the fashion industry, the power of social change and how we can made more considered choices about the clothes we wear. Caryn has made the Extinction Rebellion pledge ‘Not buying new for 52’ – and as part of the challenge isn’t purchasing clothes for 12 months. ‘I think every individual has enormous power,’ she says of being actively involved, ‘Let’s not be mindless consumers, let’s be citizen participants. Let’s vote with our money. Through our wallets we can choose companies that are moving towards better and better protocol; whether it be prioritising women, fair trade wages, the human beings in the system, whether it be a brand looking specifically at having a low carbon footprint or sustainable resources.’
Caryn is reading Hunger: A Memoir of (My ) Body by Roxane Gay and watching music documentaries and gardening programmes on BBC iPlayer. She loves up-cycling clothes, ‘ I’ve begun to really look in my wardrobe – what I can change, redesign, cut, rework, add things to and I’m forever swapping with my daughters and for me that’s a big part of the fun;’ wears Po-Zu boots, Junky Styling and People Tree.
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Producer and audio engineer: Linda Ara-Tebaldi
Host: Alyson Walsh
Guest: Caryn Franklin
Music: David Schweitzer
Artwork: Ayumi Takahashi
Coordinator: Helen Johnson