Former editors and directors at Britain’s glossiest fashion magazines are carving out a niche for themselves with print titles and websites that focus on sustainable clothing.
Later this month, Calendar will go live online, spearheaded by ex-Elle editor-in-chief Anne-Marie Curtis following a launch on Instagram earlier this year. It follows More or Less, which describes itself as “the first magazine to prioritise sustainability in the fashion industry”, and was created by Jaime Perlman, previously the art director of British Vogue. It launched in 2018 with Kate Moss on the cover.
Atmos magazine, meanwhile, aims to combine culture and the climate. It launched in 2019 with a first issue featuring Yoko Ono and Ryan McGinley, and was co-founded by William Defebaugh who worked at GQ and V magazine.
While fashion magazines traditionally encourage consumers to buy new clothes each month, these magazines focus on more sustainable brands – but also upcycling, vintage clothing and creativity. Calendar posts thrifting tips and ways to fix existing items like handbags, while a shoot in the current issue of More or Less features no clothes at all. Instead, models “wear” dresses made of body paint created by artist Kezako Paris.
With no doubt an eye on Gen Z consumers, many of whom prioritise sustainability in their purchasing decisions, lots of brands are pivoting to this way of working. London Fashion Week was awash with recycled and repurposed fabric – from established designers including Roksanda Ilincic and Osman Yousefzada to buzzy newer names including S.S.Daley and Saul Nash. Edeline Lee made her entire collection from leftover fabric odds and ends in her studio.
This change is increasingly evident on the high street too. H&M announced a recycled denim collection last week, with 100% recycled fabric, and partly recycled zippers.
The growth of sustainable fashion magazines also comes, in part, from fashion’s top brass becoming disillusioned with the industry in its current guise.
Defebaugh has said that Atmos was prompted by what he calls “fashion fatigue” while Perlman said she wants to better represent how fashion is evolving.
“After working for so many years at glossy luxury fashion magazines, I started to feel a disconnect between what was being photographed and the reality of what fashion was becoming,” she said. “I also wanted to celebrate vintage, DIY style ideas and sustainability, which felt under-represented.”
Curtis, who left Elle after 15 years in 2019, had a “lightbulb moment” while working on a sustainable issue of the magazine in 2018.
“It completely changed my mindset,” she said. “I really educated myself about things that I hadn’t had in my head before as a fashion editor and it just made me take a pause.
“It’s a bit like opening a door, and then you can’t close it again. It’s not that I didn’t love fashion anymore, but I couldn’t unsee all the stuff that I could then see.”