In my first post for The Five to Nine, I spoke a little about not being particularly certain about the direction I wanted to take as I worked towards building a portfolio career in the creative industries. Well, there was once a time when I had quite a good idea of what I wanted to do. I was certain that, if I managed it, I would be living The Dream – my dream. It became clear that this dream wasn’t going to come true quite quickly, but I held on to the smallest piece of hope for five years. I clutched it to myself with such ferocity that it exhausted me. It drained me. This piece of hope became corrupted, and I ended up miserable and afraid for what would become of me because this dream didn’t come true, but I didn’t want to let go of it because I was even more scared of what it would mean if I did. Well, on 26 June 2016, nearly five years to the day since the idea came to me in a burst of inspiration and excitement, I suddenly let go. I’d not planned it; it just happened. And it felt good. Actually, it felt great. No – even more: the whole experience was formidable.
So, what was this dream? Well, I wanted to start my own fashion magazine.
In July 2011, right in the middle of my graduation ceremony from my fashion journalism master’s, the idea for Threadbare Magazine just popped into my head. I’d been thinking a lot about how I might build my career in journalism but, with the prospects of a nice little entry-level position somewhere practically non-existent, I was faced with the prospect of unpaid internship after unpaid internship with no guarantee of a job afterwards. Working for free to build a portfolio was practically a given, and many said this was the only route into the industry. I thought that if working for free were indeed the only available option, then I would sooner work for myself for free. This was also a time during which the industry’s shift for popular media from print to online was beginning in earnest, so I thought that to launch an online publication at this time would see it grow at the same time as this sector of the industry and would ensure at least some measure of success.
I knew instantly what kind of publication I wanted Threadbare Magazine to be, because I knew exactly what kind of fashion writer I wanted to be – and still would, if I were to become one. My idea of fashion writing has always been at odds with that of most people. I’m not particularly interested in new catwalk collections. I’m not particularly interested in what this season’s colour, pattern, shape or texture. If there’s a must-have coat, bag or pair of shoes, I’m not that likely to know about it – or even care a great deal; I’m just not that susceptible to hype. I couldn’t care less about what a particular celebrity’s wearing. I’d most likely not recognise the vast majority of fashion designers if they were sitting next to me at the bus stop. In the minds of most people, all of that renders me perfectly unsuitable for my intended career path.
I wanted to write about the social and cultural effects of this season’s colour, pattern, shape or texture. I wanted to write about out why we must have must-have bags. I wanted to explore the creative processes behind fashion and why designers choose to make some ideas a reality and not others. I wanted to speak with designers about their use of fashion as artistic expression as well as financial sustenance. I wanted to explore entrepreneurship and innovation in the industry, and interrogate education and research in all aspects of fashion. I wanted to speak with artisans and craftspeople whose skills bring designs to life and explore their relationship with the work for which they’re largely uncredited. I wanted to explore the negative side of fashion and the industry and ask for explanations and justifications. I wanted to critique various aspects of the industry and have the designers become involved in public reflection and self-evaluation.
People told me that most of the above ideas were better suited to writing about fashion from an academic perspective and that they had no place in a newspaper or magazine. I was told that I could use a blog to publish ‘my kind’ of fashion writing, but I shouldn’t expect too many hits. According to many, there was no commercial audience for my kind of fashion writing – no one was, or would ever be, interested in it. I heard that and replied that it appears that no one could really be interested in fashion, then. I wanted to acknowledge that fashion is something more than a glossy photo shoot in a magazine or a goody bag at a catwalk show. It has a significance and intelligence that is practically ignored by the majority of newspapers and fashion magazines; and it was this significance and intelligence that I wanted to explore and interrogate in Threadbare Magazine.
I felt there was a need for an independent fashion publication that was not beholden to the whim of advertising revenue or corporate dogma, and free from publishers’ doctrine when it came to the content of its editorials, reviews and interviews; one that took a more intelligent and intellectual stance on fashion without adopting a condescending, pretentious or elitist attitude whilst doing so – a publication that was, at the same time, analytical, diverse, engaging, entertaining, informative and passionate.
I’d always believed there was room for this kind of debate and discourse on and around fashion that was immediately accessible to anyone who chose to engage with it, regardless of their level of interest, existing knowledge on the subject matter or background in it. For those who dismissed fashion as nothing more than a series of flights of fancy based on popular culture and celebrity endorsement, one of the aims of Threadbare Magazine was to counter that somewhat; and if it could have created in someone of this mindset at least a small appreciation for the social and cultural contribution fashion has made to this world, as well as the intricacies of its nature, then I would have been happy. For those for whom fashion already figures as a part of their life in this way, I’d hoped for Threadbare Magazine to be an additional and alternative voice in their conversations.
I didn’t want to exist in competition with any other publication(s). I wanted to exist in collaboration and co-operation with them, acknowledging that fashion was a multi-faceted phenomenon and it would take countless publications to explore each and every one of these as comprehensively as they deserved. I didn’t want to usurp an existing publication, recognising that Threadbare Magazine would undoubtedly benefit from the experience of those who had become the pillars on which the future of the industry was being built; and, that along with other new publications, would be a part of this – regardless of the scale. I hoped that Threadbare Magazine would have been able to approach the creation and dissemination of its content with influence from the diverse experiences and interests of those I hoped would contribute to it; and that we would be able to produce the publication I’d envisioned and, hopefully, become an authoritative and influential fashion publication as time passed.