Tuesday, March 30, 2010

DC Chillin': Q and A with the Makers of Worn Magazine

Photo from the inaugural cover of Worn Magazine

Move over, glossy mags. You've got a new friend on the newsstands in DC. Worn Magazine launches in April, and its art/fashion/photography blend is sure to be eye candy for the area's creative types. We accosted editor/creative director Nicole Aguirre and head of photography Joshua Yospyn, who gladly answered some questions about their new effort. Media, fashion, and the snowpocalypse, after the jump:

How long have the two of you known each other? When did your collaboration on Worn begin?

Nicole: Josh and I met in the Spring of 2009 at an art gallery opening at Civilian Arts. A few months later he contacted me to model for him, and we’ve been photographing together ever since. Josh and I collaborated on other photography projects before Worn, including a fashion blog I started last year called GoodNicole. We took fashion photos for the blog almost on a daily basis and cultivated an amazing creative energy together.

Our collaboration for Worn started last fall when I returned from spending the summer working for a publication in New York City and decided to start a magazine in DC. Josh’s skill in photography and our ability to work well together is a huge part of what gave me the confidence the start Worn. Our creative relationship is essential to the look of the magazine.

Josh: I still remember the straw fedora and black-and-white checkered dress Nicole was wearing at Civilian. She was photographing the event and carrying an old school black leather Nikon camera case. I asked her about it and she took my picture. With me it’s quid pro quo, so then I had to take her picture.

Was Worn in the works before you applied for the 2010 Young Artists Grant? I can imagine it feels great to have support from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Would the magazine have been possible without that support?

Nicole: Worn was in the works months before I ever applied for the Young Artist Grant. One thing you have to keep in mind when applying for the grant is that your application has a greater chance of being accepted if you can show that your project is likely to succeed even without their support. So we had to proceed as if we were not going to receive anything until the final decision was announced in late December. Financial support from the Commission is fantastic, but what has helped me the most I believe is the added confidence that comes with receiving the grant. I felt that someone other than me believed the project was possible and wanted to help make it a reality.

The print media industry is having a rough time lately. Why choose print for Worn?

Nicole: I worked at two print publications in NY and DC before starting Worn, both of which have laid off lots of people since. This still hasn’t discouraged me for several reasons. First, as a photographer myself, I value a printed photograph that I can hold in my hand and keep forever. This is part of the reason I like to shoot Polaroids.

Second, much is made of the digital age and young people getting their information on line. This isn’t going to slow down, however, there is a growing nostalgia that I sense coming from the loss of the simple physicality of holding a record in your hand or flipping through the pages of a beautiful magazine and keeping a collection. It’s just not the same to click away online until you have no idea where you started and you’re left with nothing except information overload and bad eye sight. Lastly, I don’t think print has to die just because the economy isn’t going well and the advertising model of yesterday is no longer sustainable. It’s our job to come up with something better.

Josh: Nicole said it best. For me this project was never about a website, it was 100% hardcopy magazine. Martin Parr spoke last summer at the LOOK3 Charlottesville photography festival on the magazines he’s made. I’d fiddled with Blurb books before but the idea of a self-published tabloid never occurred to me. So Parr’s presentation had a big impact on my brain, plus he seems to think in opposite of what everyone else is doing. Then what do you know, late last year Nicole comes to me with the idea of Worn Magazine. So much in life is about timing.

Is there room in DC for another fashion publication?

Nicole: As far as I’m concerned, there is no other fashion publication in DC. No genuinely local one anyway. There is no DC fashion magazine that caters directly to urban, creative, young people who are part of the growing arts movement in DC. The purpose of Worn is to fill that void while promoting local businesses and boutiques in order to show what is already available in DC and present it in a fresh and exciting way.

Josh: For me, this is a photography magazine. Not a fashion magazine. I’m not a fashion person but I realize with portraiture and street photography you can inevitably get wrapped into style. I leave the fashion to Nicole, plus she’s much prettier than I am.

How did you choose the locations to sell Worn? Can we expect to find the magazine at additional locations over time?

Nicole: At first it made sense to sell the magazines at the businesses, which collaborated with us on this first issue so that they could not only showcase their products, but also have something to show their customers. There are also certain coffee shops around the city that we go to all the time and which we believe are obvious choices based on their locations and clientele. It’s important to us that people in all parts of the city have access to the magazine; therefore we are slowly adding to the list of distribution points.

Josh: My goal is to have Adrian (from the cover) marching all over town half-naked in DURKL pants selling the magazine. Stores yes, but let’s bring back the paperboy on the street corner, standing on a milk crate shouting, “Get your Worn Magazine!”

How would you rate DC’s vintage scene and offerings?

Nicole: I’m most impressed by what Washingtonians are able to accomplish with the vintage offerings here. Last year’s Tweed Ride being one of the best examples of this. DC has a unique style that is separate from the larger trends and vintage clothing is a huge part of that. Some of my favorites are Treasury on 14th St., which has absolutely beautiful pieces and Annie Cream Cheese in Georgetown.

Josh: Crafty Bastards and all the shops on 14th & U are quickly becoming a part of the city’s identity. Personally, I’d love to get a list of the boutiques and consignment stores that offer men’s clothing. Don’t make me go to the thrift stores in PG County or Arlington, keep me in the city. I bought a pair of boots (still wearing them) from a boutique on U Street a long time ago and I need another pair.

(Ed. note: We’re working on it, Josh. Promise.)

Living in DC is far from cheap, and the economy is still pretty much in the tank. Can Washingtonians be fashionable and frugal?

Nicole: That’s basically the whole point of the fashion aspect of Worn. I started Worn because I knew that we were capable of producing amazing photo shoots with incredible-looking clothes that are available just down the street. My hope is that people will see this and realize that DC has a lot more to offer than they thought. Not only that, but that they can afford to look incredible and not spend a fortune. I’ve said before that what inspires me about this city is that the people who look the best are not necessarily those who are most able to afford to.

Josh: Sure. Leslie, who we photographed for the magazine, talked about clothing swaps she’s done with friends. Being fashionable doesn’t always mean spending money. It means trying new things, changing your look and taking a risk. The 1980s are long gone and now the reverse is true: clipping coupons is the new cool. Shit, cut your own hair!

The cover of the debut issue is fantastic—but we’re dying to know which of this year’s legendary snowstorms arrived just in time for your photo shoot. I think DC will love recalling this year’s crazy weather with this cover.

Nicole: The cover photo was shot by Josh during the remnants of the first snowpocalypse.

Josh: Was it the first one? Honestly I lost track. We had so many. During one of the snowball fights in Dupont Circle I got hit in the face with an iceball. My memory hasn’t been the same since.

Worn Magazine is scheduled to celebrate its launch on April 15. We'll be waiting.


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