Fit to Print: Editorial Explorations in Clothing Design
Fit to Print: Editorial Explorations in Clothing Design
- Words Kate Marin
- Date September 29, 2017
As unique mediums, music, film, fine art, literature and fashion all serve as a source of cultural documentation. Reflecting periods of change throughout time, they commemorate the beliefs and politics specific to these moments, and in doing so present them in a new, alternative light. Fashion, as a completely visual and material form, has always quite literally depicted trends— the billowing gowns and hoop skirts in classical art for instance—but over the years it’s taken a more poignant and often loaded turn. Today, there’s no doubt that fashion has the power to make social, political, and racial convictions both on and off the runway (think: Pyer Moss’ “My Demons Won Today I’m Sorry” and more recently Public School’s “Make America New York”), making it feel a pivotal part of culture now more than ever.
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Even more recent than the rise of such blunt, harshly relevant cultural statements on the runway, a new form of collaboration between two facets of culture has emerged— fashion and magazines. Many of the outlets and sites we turn to for our daily dose of fashion are finding new opportunities—both economic and otherwise—by producing the very topic of their content: clothing. By manifesting and materializing their brands into a wearable, tangible items, fashion news outlets are not only creating an alternative source of revenue, but wearable advertising. The result is an unprecedented new space in the streetwear sphere.
High-end and streetwear collaborations are quite obviously ubiquitous (i.e. Supreme x Louis Vuitton, The North Face x Sacai, Vetements x Tommy Hilfiger, etc.) with their own place amidst popular culture. Many may argue this tactic puts a new, “cooler,” and most importantly younger consumer in contact with high-end labels, while others claim it gives streetwear brands more credibility. Regardless, these partnerships have kept the press and streetwear-fanatics occupied, giving the alternative publishing-meets-fashion collaborations the time and space to develop.
Tucked aside on a handful of pop-culture-driven sites like Purple Magazine and 032c are boutiques and merch shops where you can purchase branded and non-branded goods. Just like on the runway, many of the collections’ implications are understated— the fact that they are even associated with an outlet can be easily missed. Take Purple Magazine’s belts with Zana Bayne, their sneakers with Santoni, and their wallets with The Walart: none of these products offer a publically-visible association with the magazine. Similarly, 032c has transformed their online store into something easily mistaken for a popular streetwear brand. Their simple Crowded-House-inspired “Don’t Dream It’s Over” sweatshirts, graphic printed tees, and track-style sweatpants emulate something more than just merchandise and bring a new dimension to the industry—now, not only can you read a magazine, but you can wear it, too.
Perhaps the ultimate example of a lifestyle line produced by a magazine is none other than Richardson, which boasts two physical storefronts— Chinatown, New York, and East Hollywood, Los Angeles— for its plethora of apparel and other goods. From their assortment of branded t-shirts, bikinis, lighters, and incense, to their latest collaborative collection with PornHub, Richardson is an ideal example of how a publication has the power to manifest off the page. Particularly focused on fetish/kink culture and their relation to fashion, the magazine has repurposed its sexually-driven print publication into something wearable, allowing its readers and nonreaders alike to associate themselves with the publication’s seedy BDSM reputation.
Similarly to Richardson, Good Worth’s recent collaboration with Playboy allows a publication so notoriously driven by sex to manifest those emotion into tangible product. The assortment of accessories, tees, and hats, all branded with Playboy’s infamous logo, are an iconic addition the Good Worth’s lineup of playful apparel. For Good Worth, the collaboration feels natural— their shop is filled with humorous slogans, drug and sex references aplenty— while for Playboy, who also has their own shop online, a partnership with Good Worth (and the plethora of other clothing brands it has collaborated with) opens up the publication to perhaps a younger and more streetwear-informed new audience.
Even on the runway, this new dynamic relationship between publishers and fashion labels is reaching unprecedented heights. Take Isabella Burley, the 26-year-old editor-in-chief of Dazed, who was recently appointed the first editor-in-residence at Helmut Lang. After a string of failed designers and poor economic performance, Helmut Lang owner and Theory group’s Chief Executive Andrew Rosen opted, rather than hire a star designer, to bring Burley into the fold. Young but ambitious, Burley’s career has centered around writing, editing, and editorial direction so her selection was a surprise many—particularly since no one has a clue what an “editor-in-residence” might even do. Yet, she’s proven herself more than capable of the job at hand thus far. Calling upon her editorial experience at Dazed, Burley has taken over the brand mid-relaunch, both appointing Hood By Air’s Shayne Oliver as the first in a series of guest designers—Oliver showed “Helmut Lang as seen by Shayne Oliver” during NYFW—and launching the “Re-Edition” collection. Oliver heightened Lang’s understated sense of fetishism with a touch of bondage, as one should expect, all while maintaining his namesake edge. The Re-Edition initiative though, aims to recapture some of Lang’s late-90’s dominance, through reissues of some of Lang’s greatest hits. Oliver aside, Burley’s debut role at Helmut Lang, and her success thus far, serves to cement this crossover of publication and design on the runway.
Through these collaborations, clothing brands and magazines are given the opportunity to collude and create something beyond themselves. Both are given the chance to tap into a following that is not exclusively their own, melding subcultures and even bringing a new energy to a parallel creative industry. Although high-fashion and streetwear collaborations serve a unique purpose in the industry and have shown much success, partnerships between brands and our favorite literary and cultural sources feel in a sense more meaningful, as they reach beyond a single market. By crossing these borders, we see that not only does fashion play a major role in the evolution of culture, it has the power to reaffirm it— appropriating current events, social movements, and political beliefs into tangible, public statements. Whether or not these collaborations are the next step for streetwear, who is to say? But as consumers continue to seek out more meaningful, purposeful clothing aligned with their cultural beliefs, it seems that it may be the case.