An alternative fashion journal

by Steve Watson in December 2013
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I’m always interested in magazines that do things differently to the mainstream, and there are a few fashion titles out at the moment that seem to be framing themselves as a response to the glossies. In tomorrow’s Two-Minute Magazine video I’ll have a flick through Article, a magazine with fashion literally stitched through its core, but first take a look at my interview with Johannes Reponen, the man behind Address, the journal for fashion criticism.

The first issue of Address came out about a year and a half ago and issue two hit the shelves last month, continuing Johannes’s mission of understanding fashion away from the catwalk. Brilliantly inventive and stridently non-commercial, it’s a must-read for anyone who cares about fashion but feels like there’s more to life than Vogue and Stylist.

Address magazine

Address is like no other fashion magazine I’ve ever seen. How did it start?
I did my masters degree at London College of Communication on a course that was called Design Writing Criticism, which unfortunately doesn’t exist any more, but it was put together by Professor Teal Triggs (now at RCA), who has written a lot about indie mag culture, and Anna Gerber, who now runs Visual Editions. The course was about tackling the emerging discipline of design criticism, and that’s where Address was born. Alongside doing Address and writing about fashion for various international publications, I’m now doing my PhD in fashion criticism at London College of Fashion, where I’m also teaching fashion criticism. It’s a holy triangle of teaching, researching and practicing the topic, if that makes sense.

Absolutely. So Address is your opportunity to put the things you’re thinking about academically into practice – what’s the main thing you want people to take away from the magazine?
It’s really about trying to expand and experiment with fashion writing and criticism. In terms of the way we talk about fashion, on the one hand it’s a reaction to the glossy fashion magazines – they’re always about the aspirational element of fashion and promoting fashion. But we want to review fashion from different perspectives, so in Address we want to discuss and analyse fashion as part of our everyday experience.

Everybody wears some type of fashion; it’s part of all of our lives, and we want to unpack that from a variety of different perspectives. It’s not necessarily about celebrities or top stylists, more about getting an insight into all aspects of the industry. In the latest issue we discussed the idea of care, so we talked to people who do dry cleaning or repair of clothes.

Address magazine

It’s striking that you’re a fashion magazine but you don’t have anything recognisable as a fashion shoot. Why is that?
We wanted to avoid fashion shoots in the more conventional sense because we want to present fashion the way we actually see it when we go to the shops or walk down the street. We are much more interested in the clothes we wear rather than some extravagant creation you see on the catwalks that nobody’s ever going to wear.

So you’re taking the artifice out of fashion?

I love the opening feature in this issue, which runs from the cover (see below) across the first few pages, with these documentary photographs of feet on a dance floor, all explained in this almost ethnographic study written by a visitor on first arriving in South Korea and documenting the fashions there. What made you want to start your editorial literally from the cover and run it on like that?
If you look at any fashion magazine, the first thing you have is 100 pages of advertising. But we’re advertising-free and independent, so we wanted use this space to display great work and a distinctive point of view. So for our cover we have a more documentary-style image, as opposed to what you’d describe as a cover in fashion terms (generally a close-up of a model or celebrity face).

What does it mean commercially for you to not have any advertising?
We’re hoping that people respond to the content and that the sales of the issue pay for the printing.

Is that what happened with issue one?
Yes. We want to create a sustainable platform – Address, for us, is not about making money. It’s about bringing together a group of people from a variety of different disciplines who are interested in discussing, reviewing or commenting on fashion, and allowing space for that conversation to happen.

Address cover

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