15 September 2009

Could we all be contributing?

I am rather a large fan of Contributing Editor Magazine, which is technically an online magazine but is effectively so much more.

Editor-in-chief Matthew Edelstein and creative director Ryan Schmidt have created a new platform for fashion photographers to publish their work, bypassing the bureaucracy of getting published in a traditional magazine, and consequently establishing a new precedent in the world of fashion.

This platform is so much freer - in all senses of the word - than anything a magazine could possibly be in this day and age, that I can imagine there are some publishing magnates shaking in their boots when they see the likes of Contributing Editor popping up. This said, I am the last person who would want to dismiss physical magazines, for there is nothing like having a beautifully printed image or article in your hands, nothing quite like the luxury object that is a fashion magazine. But the fact of the matter is people are just not buying magazines anymore.

We think: Why pay for a magazine when sites like theFashionSpot.com, Models.com, the myriad fashion blogs, even the magazine's own website, are putting the images online sometimes even before the magazine is released? The hype around a new supposedly amazing, phenomenal magazine editorial before the magazine is physically released is such that it eludes the magazine itself. It's like advertising some new CD by offering the music for free download - it's not making people want the CD more, it's undermining the whole production process itself. Who would pay for something when they get it for free? Puritans, luddites, devotees - of course - but perhaps not enough of them to keep the magazine afloat.

We have seen magazines like i-D limiting their print run to the on-season (effectively six issues a year), and the likes of Dazed&Confused trying to cheapen their print-run by printing in sub-standard paper. Most are trying to amp-up their online presence through blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc., presumably in an effort to boost sales of the hard-copy. All admirable, but I would suggest these efforts are largely pointless, especially when you compare super-shiny, expensive-looking fashion websites like Love magazine's or Dazed Digital with something like Contributing Editor, U_MAG or even Tavi Gevinson's blog - all Blogspot sites (thank you, Blogger.com!).

On the other end of the scale, magazines such as A Magazine, Acne Paper, Self Service and even Purple, as well as boutique-mags such as 032c and Sang Bleu, which are bi-annual (or not even dictated by deadlines of regular intervals) and which look and feel highly exclusive, remain - as objects as well as in terms of their content - highly covetable. For me, a fan of good fashion writing, the articles are the tell-tale sign of the general quality (and level of wanted-ness) of a magazine: compare the writing in Dazed&Confused, i-D or Love with that of Acne Paper, Self Service, Dossier or even another monthly, Numéro, and you'll see what I mean.

I don't want to sound like I'm getting on any magazine's back because, as I've said, I love magazines, and I love all the magazines I have mentioned above a lot. It is for this reason I am sad to see the direction a lot of them seem to be going, i.e., cheapening the one card they've got to play against the likes of Contributing Editor - their physicality, their tangibility, their object-ness.

So, with all this in mind, let's bring it back to the image. For the sake of it, I'd like to highlight a story in Contributing Editor, which I find to be really beautiful fashion editorial in a relatively traditional sense. Princes of Wales was shot by photographer Thomas Lohr in Wales. Notably, Lohr shoots with film (yes!), a fact I find particularly fantastic considering the medium of publication, i.e. an online (digital) magazine. The styling was done by Kim Howells, whose subtle use of wools, pastels and touches of femininity complements perfectly prop stylist Alun Davies' magnificent helmets and armour.

Moving forward in fashion is not necessarily about breaking every rule, just being open and realistic to new modes, new platforms, to mixing old with new and to helping each other make fashion better not just despite, but because of, the shake ups. Let's all work together! Let's all be contributing.


Blogger Unknown said...

Love yr blog Eleanor, so much that I made a link from mine http://txtme.blogspot.com

15 September, 2009 07:57  
Blogger doctork said...

I LOVE the helmets! I want one. Any chance?

20 September, 2009 07:42  
Anonymous Ashburn Eng said...

totally agree. hands up!

04 October, 2009 06:11  

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