Press & Fold magazine’s fresh thinking on fashion

Q&Aby Grace Wang in March 2018

Fashion is often understood as inseparable to the businesses that drive it, but Press & Fold sees it as a much more meaningful and self-contained subject. Ignoring the side of the industry that bases itself on consuming the latest trends, the bookish magazine provides thoughtful conversations that look at how our experiences are shaped by the things we wear.

As head of the Fashion Strategy, the MA programme at ArtEZ University of the Arts, editor Hanka van der Voet is an expert in thinking critically about the industry. (The course explores the ways in which the fashion system can be disrupted, so real social, cultural and economic alternatives can emerge.) Find out more in our chat with Hanka about their first issue, The Street.

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Fashion magazines are notoriously consumer-centric. Why did you want to make a magazine that goes beyond treating fashion as a commodity?
I think about 99% of fashion magazines are either directly or indirectly trying to sell us something, and it has been like that for as long as fashion magazines have existed. Because these ties between fashion and the market are so explicit and good money can be made, there is little incentive for other/critical perspectives on fashion. It’s a shame, because fashion has so much to offer. It’s the first layer between us and the outside world, and it shows who we are or who we want to be, and what it means to be human. As such, we should take it more seriously.

Press & Fold offers perspectives that think deeply and critically about fashion, but there is also a sense of irreverence. What was your initial concept?
What was important in conceptualising the magazine was not to put fashion or fashion designers on a pedestal, not to consider them as these ‘grand auteurs’, but to shine a light on everyday realities of fashion, and its makers and consumers. I didn’t want that layer of glamour (or layer of ‘ugliness’ when it comes to contemporary niche magazines) that is so present in the fashion magazine business, and I wanted to focus on different types of fashion practices; those that explore alternative fashion forms and narratives.

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Camiel Fortgens speaks so refreshingly and honestly about what he dislikes about the industry…
I think Camiel Fortgens is a good example of a young designer wanting to do things differently, but coming to the realisation of how difficult it is to do so, and finding out how overwhelming the fashion system and its rules are. If you want to sell your clothes, you have to participate in the game; make collections, do showrooms in Paris. And once you participate, you can get completely sucked in. I admire his honesty, and I think it is important these struggles are talked about. The problem within a lot of fashion and design schools is that these things are not discussed, and students are educated to have unrealistic expectations about the field they will be working in once they graduate.

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Can you tell us about Ruby Hoette’s tongue-in-cheek interpretation of fashion collections?
When I started Press & Fold, I was very explicit about not wanting to have styled editorials in it, but then I didn’t really know what kind of visual content I could offer as a replacement. I think Ruby’s ‘Lost & Collected’ (below) is a very suitable alternative. It is a project Ruby started in 2011, which documents and maps items of clothing found in public spaces. It started as a blog, then moved to Instagram. At this point, it is quite an extensive archive and it’s still growing.

With ‘Lost & Collected’, Ruby reflects on the quest for ‘newness’ inherent to the current fashion system and lays bare the mechanism of intangible brand value versus material or functional qualities. Through the images, she creates unconventional ‘fashion collections’, shifting the abject and mass-produced garment back into the unique and ‘one-off’.

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What was it like to make the first issue, and is there anything you would do differently?
I actually still can’t believe that we were able to make this first issue, and how quickly we did it. I need to become better at planning: it was quite a challenge doing this beside my day job as Head of the MA programme Fashion Strategy at ArtEZ University of the Arts. And I was very much focused on getting the magazine to print, but did not think at all about what happens after, that I needed to think about distribution, PR etcetera. Content-wise I wouldn’t change a thing: I’m very grateful for all the amazing contributors who wanted to be part of the project.

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