Mildew 2
Delivered to Stack subscribers in  Nov 2023

by Steve Watson in December 2023
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The fashion magazine that has a deep love for the pre-loved, Mildew focuses on secondhand clothes and culture as a way of celebrating the best of the past, while also finding a more sustainable way of living today.

Ellen Freeman

Job title

What is Mildew?
Mildew is an annual, independent magazine telling stories about secondhand fashion that invite us to think about old clothes in new ways. It’s a guide to dressing in the spirit of our times and revelling in the decay of fashion as we knew it.

What makes it different to the rest?
Since all the clothes in Mildew are used or vintage, very little is for sale. (And if it is, probably only one of its kind exists in the world.) We don’t have to listen to what Big Fashion says is relevant — we just follow our curiosity. For a long time, the pages of fashion magazines have been a pretty exclusive space, but I wanted Mildew to reflect the ways that us mortals actually dress ourselves, so I hope that our pages feel really welcoming even to people who don’t think of themselves as ‘into fashion’.

Who makes Mildew?
I’m the founder/editor: I’m an American writer and editor living in Mexico City, and I’m also the deputy editor of Broccoli, Mushroom People, and Catnip. Corbin LaMont is the designer: an American designer, artist, and researcher living in London who works with shared narratives in isolating times. Jackie Russo is the photos editor: a Mexican-American photographer and designer living in Los Angeles, whose portraits have been featured in The New York Times, Zeit, Pitchfork, and more. And in each issue we work with contributors from Nigeria to Lithuania.

Who reads it?
People who spend all their money at thrift stores, people who pull over when they see an estate sale sign, history buffs, recyclers, collectors of ephemera, mudlarkers, cheapskates, archivists, people who think mainstream fashion is kind of icky but who love clothes, people who are interested in stories about preservation, transformation, and the way that our stuff connects us all. The second guy in “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.

Why do you work in magazines?
I’m fully addicted to the internet, but reading on the internet feels to me like a fugue state, like I’m always trying to get to the next thing — to scroll past the ad or skip to the end or to move on to another tab. It’s not really designed for contemplation. I like that with print magazines, we don’t have to worry about clicks or affiliate links or the 24-hour news cycle. My editor at Broccoli, Anja Charbonneau, put it really nicely when she wrote that with the slow process of magazine-making, you get to tell evergreen stories and readers get to, “take a slow, deep inhale of information and ideas while experiencing writing and art that have been given time to marinate“.

Aside from the print magazine, what else are you involved in?
Translating arts writing from Spanish to English, writing a syllabus on the appreciation of miniatures for Syllabus Project, and tap dancing.

What would you change about Mildew if you could?
I would receive a Deal or No Deal-style phone call from a mysterious, anonymous benefactor who would give us a generous, no-strings-attached budget so that we can make multiple issues a year. (We have more than enough story ideas, just not enough money!)

Where do you see Mildew in five years?
I would love to see us releasing our fifth issue. (Or, if this mysterious benefactor does call, our 10th!) Since launching Mildew, whenever I go to a new city I try to host a Mildew clothing swap there — so far we’ve done them in Mexico City, Portland, London, and LA. It’s so much fun to meet new people and see the treasures that everyone finds, so in five years, I would love to have hosted a clothing swap on every continent.

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