(Editor's letter from Shameless issue 26, the Fashion issue. Originally published in Shameless magazine. )
Every year or two, we have an issue that goes the way of this one; it just feels impossible to get out the door. Life/school/work gets in the way, contributors disappear, a piece needs a last-minute re-write; everything that can go wrong seems to to do just that. Scrambling together to make this happen then becomes the work of an entire community — friends (and friends of friends) writing, drawing and even sewing at the last possible minute, and people I’ve never met before showing up to my house very early on a Saturday morning to help proof and send this to the printer.
It seems only fitting that our first issue of our tenth year of publishing would exemplify both the challenges and the love and community that comes from doing something in such a grassroots way. That’s kind of the nature of an indie magazine — one run entirely on volunteer power — it’s a real team effort (a team that includes a huge community of supporters!). While chaotic at times, I can’t help but feel humbled by and grateful for everybody who makes this possible.
In all the chaos of getting-it-done, I had almost forgotten about the content of the issue itself. Reflecting on it now, (just) ahead of a looming print-deadline, I’m brought back to late last year when our editorial team shared snacks (as we tend to do) and talked about the role of fashion in our lives. That’s where this issue came from.
Even the lightest piece of clothing can carry the heaviest weight. A simple t-shirt is made up of the threads of nature, labour, struggle and resilience through colonialism, capitalism and globalization. It’s then re-imagined in our wardrobes to signal culture, style and politics, to reflect our personalities and to subvert or challenge stifling norms. Fashion does this in the most personal of ways — on our bodies — leaving us with a lot to unravel.
No matter how you look at it, fashion is political. Whether you’re talking about troubled histories (p. 14), cultural appropriation (p. 24) or awareness-raising (p. 6), there’s no getting around the political and cultural significance of what we choose to wear (and how we choose to wear it). But, we’re particularly excited about this issue because fashion can be fun, too (especially when you figure out how to own it, work it and flaunt it!). In this issue, we start by reclaiming fashion for bodies of all sizes (p. 13), abilities (p. 40) and budgets (p.7). We explore the ups and downs of fashion-as-expression (p.10) and keep tabs on people who are re-imagining the industry as a whole (p.18).
It’s a small start into a big world, but with it, we hope to start some exciting conversations that make us think critically and feel great while doing it.
PS: Check out the new shamelessmag.com for our fashion blog series featuring staff and contributors talking about the significance of their favourite pieces of clothing!