In an e-mail titled, “Topic for Discussion,” stylist Raymond Gee wrote, ” In the fashion world we have a plethora of magazines to choose from, [but] as black people we tend to have to wait for magazines like Vogue to put black stars on the cover. Though there are magazines that represent the black audience, where are the magazines that cater to the black community who are reading for fashion edification and inspiration?”
He continued, “At 21, I am a stylist, more specifically, a 21 year old black stylist. Since my interest in fashion peaked in high school I have been seeking inspiration in the pages of Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and following them, i-D, Z!NK, IDOL, Dazed and Confused, and many more titles. What you will notice is that among those names, neither Essence nor Ebony were listed. In the last year or so, I have found interest in Jones Magazine, a slight interest in Uptown, none in Vibe Vixen, which I found to be garish.”
“…My point is that black people make a cry to see black models and celebrities on the cover of mainstream magazines, but never recognize that we have magazines that are geared towards our community. As a stylist, I don’t see the work of black stylists without searching for it. Big names like Patti Wilson, Pat McGrath, and Edward Enninful don’t work for Essence or Ebony, just like I won’t read them, I don’t read them. I wouldn’t work for them, they hold no interest for me.”
Finally, he said, “When YOUNG people like Oroma Elewa of the defunct, Pop’Africana, Sarah Diouf of Ghubar magazine, and Fashizblack magazine (all foreign). Or stylists like Donald Hicks and Beagy Zielinski exist it is shocking to me to think that there isn’t a high fashion magazine that caters to young (16-30 somethings) who care about high end fashion. We have outlets that dabble in fashion, but not in a capacity that is comparable to the overwhelming majority of fashion magazines. If you and I, or anyone reading this cares about Azzedeine Alaia, Balmain, Prada, Alexander Wang, Alexander McQueen, or Marc Jacobs, why isn’t there an outlet that reflects our interests that isn’t tied up in celebrity only. Why couldn’t I be a young boy staying up late dreaming about spreads that I saw in magazine run by and featuring people who look like me and share the same interests? “
Well, young man, I appreciate your zeal. My short answer is: Print is Dead. Stick a fork in it. People don’t buy or subscribe to magazines as they used to. Most fashion enthusiasts are online, with more and more people just going mobile (I guarantee a growing number of Fashion Bomb readers read this site on their phone vs. their home computer).
Not sure if I told you this, but about a year ago, I actually had the ‘revolutionary’ idea that any enterprising black woman interested in fashion would have: to spearhead the relaunch of Suede. I shopped the idea around to former Suede editors, one time media moguls, and even the then Editor-in-Chief of Essence. They all laughed.
Why? It takes several million dollars to launch a magazine (the low number was $5 million). It takes that many more millions of dollars to maintain. There are fashion advertisers, who aren’t really interested in the demographic, to woo. And then there are subscribers to please. And it seems there simply aren’t enough Raymond Gee’s out there to justify such a fantastic expense.
So in the meantime, sorry kids, but it seems you’ll have to deal with websites like Fashion Bomb Daily that mix runway, editorials, and celebrity…or hop on over to street style sites like BlackFashion.Tumblr.com.
Or create your own stylishly edifying publication.
The world is waiting.
Until then, what do you think? With the current state of the industry, could a black fashion magazine survive and thrive?
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