Saturday, May 10, 2008


worn |wôrn|

damaged and shabby as a result of much use : a worn, frayed denim jacket

Thanks to my friendly neighbour who came by Saturday to remind about Ladyfest on Saturday, I made it out to 'Not your grandma's craft sale' at the Jack Purcell centre in Ottawa. A first time for me, and despite the fact that I was feeling a little grubby, cheap, and irritable, I had a great time! I can only imagine my impression should I have woken on the right side of the bed.

My 'nose for news' has recently taken on new meanings, as I inhale with glee favourite glossies and train passengers -- somehow guessing my interest -- offer me magazines they've found. Likewise at LadyFest, I immediately found myself at the magazine stand. Or, at least, Serah-marie with her publication, Worn Fashion Journal.

Worn really struck me. It is indie yet polished, smooth and well-designed, with lots of content and visuals. The publication aims to bring 'a political, environmental, historical and cultural context to fashion,' and in my browsing I found articles on galleries, textiles, and the influence of music on fashion. Basically, it seemed, if it's high-end now, it could have started in the pages of Worn. Not to say it's a place for newbies aiming to hit the big-time (their writer's guidelines demand opinions and list the following words as 'Banned, unless there is a very good reason: Discourse
For example
this article
No, Worn seemed to me like the beginnings of culture. Though it looked much better, it reminded me of mold. Looks like a dot on the cultural radar, but can be brewed into a fine cheese we're all vying for -- once the marketers have stepped in to direct.

Of course I asked about contributing, and Serah-marie seemed interested, though we soon nodded appreciatively at each other about the business end of it all. No, she can't pay contributors. Hopefully soon, they all say. In any case, I enjoyed flipping and chatting, and told her that I liked the look of it, and would keep my eyes peeled for Worn around town.

But I'd barely passed a rack of shapeless T-shirt dresses (who looks good in those?) when my mind snapped to something I'd read in Worn. It was about Astria Suparak, a curator in Syracuse, NY. As part of her profile, she'd noted clothing exchanges as a source of inspiration. It was, in fact, the #1 item on her list.

I've been trying to pitch this story for a couple years now. Clothing exchanges as fashion inspiration, yes, but these events also serve as excellent 'social lubricants' (more on that later), and fit into the green movement better than recycled fleece. And yet, as of yet, no bites. The green movement is gaining ground, reaching a new 'tipping point,' they say, though there's hope yet for that angle. But still...

In my research for pitches to these stories, I often do some mad Googling, offering the search engine any combination of the words/ ideas Clothing + Exchange. The movement is growing, and I find myself excited about more hits, which is why I returned to Serah-marie's booth and took down Astria Suparak's name. More fuel for future pitches! This way I can 'prove' clothing exchanges not only happen, but have a special place in the world of fashion.

Alas, my discovery was bittersweet. As I walked away (Serah-Marie kindly let me take down the name without buying a copy) I realized something about freelancing and this whole 'trend identification' thing. Freelancing for magazines requires long lead times; you have to think months ahead and hope/ plan for an issue or idea to remain relevant. But it's not so much the logistics as it is the mindset of editors that was bothering me last Saturday.

Why is it that something must be written elsewhere, have a Google presence, or an NGO-affiliation in order to be valid?
and how long can something original and sincere, like a clothing exchange, maintain a Google presence without becoming tired, old news? After I write the article of my dreams, will the clothing exchange be 'damaged and shabby as a result of much use'?

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