How did you get into fashion and journalism and is it something you've always wanted to pursue?
I first ‘got’ into the fashion industry at around nineteen. I studied Fashion Journalism at London College of Fashion and pursued various internships (at Clash, Faustine Steinmetz etc.), I then went on to intern at AnOther and Semaine, before deciding to go freelance as a writer in mid 2016. I had writing experience, and I had held a position at Foxes Magazine for a while, and I decided it was time to fly the nest and concentrate on myself and my projects – including Denude. It was important for me to feel like my time at University and that the experience I had gained wasn’t going to be wasted – as I had wanted to pursue journalism since the age of fourteen. I was very dedicated to my own idea of being in the fashion industry, yet, now I remain open minded about where my career is going, as it has proved most interesting since I have had less defined goals, and loosely defined aims instead. I am from Nottingham, and people often have an opinion that your background doesn’t influence how you feel about the world, but it truly does. I was raised in a very working class household, and that is something I am very proud of. I am very aware that the pro-active mind I have derives from my parents. I watched them both work their hardest to make a business and a family work and they did. I therefore know I can achieve whatever I put my mind to – because one can make it work with belief. The work ethic of those around me growing up was truly one that pushed me to always keep… pushing (so to speak.)
What drove you to start your magazine Denude and how did you pull it together by yourself? Was it a difficult process and were there any setbacks?
I was just really bored by the fashion media I was reading at the time. It was all the same social circles being represented, and I was so unhappy that there was no access for certain people – or that there was talent being missed out on. I particularly felt that when social media arose, and I still think this today that talent can often be spotlighted because it has a cult/social following and not because what the person is doing is really cool or is truly altering something. The same influencers are used nowadays for every endorsement, yet, the people who are most interesting often have the smallest followings. I wanted to found a place that would spotlight these people, women in particular, because women are healers, creators, and innovators all in one. I pulled it together with the help of a few friends, but mostly by my own hard work. I worked my hardest on two issues, and I truly loved who I was interviewing and photographing, so it was a matter of me thinking ‘this is good, I believe in these people,’ and if other people don’t - cool and if they do – cool. The setback has always been that with being an independent magazine, you have little funding and you have this frustration that your product isn’t getting out to as many people as you would like. I have made contact with some fantastic people that I would love to be able to give the magazine to for free in large amounts, but unfortunately financial restraints mean that sometimes you cannot simply give your magazine away - and I don’t believe in working for nothing. I try to put me and those who work with the magazine before profit – I don’t want to exploit anyone or their work, including myself.
You've interviewed some major names for some big music and fashion magazines. Were you ever daunted by any of this?
Thank you! I have been very daunted by some of my past interview subjects, I have interviewed two of my own personal heroes and interviewing people you admire so greatly is truly difficult because you have to set aside your own admiration for them. I have had some difficult interviews, yet, I always think, if someone wants to be difficult, why do they want to be difficult? No one in this industry is any less or better than one another – we should think of it as working alongside one another and I tend to think of difficulty as not that they have an issue with me, but that they would be like that with anyone – or they could just be having a bad day. You have to think of yourself as removed, you are there to get answers, to get an opinion, or a notion – not to be friends with them. Once I got over that feeling, I began to realise that my interviews became more confident. I interviewed Pamela Love, who I admire hugely, and my removed attitude allowed for more scope and better answers – and now we are connected to each other past the magazine – so being professional really works!
Who are you inspired by right now?
In fashion, Maryam Nassir Zadeh, Sophie Buhai, Simon Porte Jacquemus, Thistle Brown, Paris Mitchell and Mari Giudicelli – they’re all one on their own in the sense that they create for the purpose of themselves, and are doing exactly what they feel is right and they are doing exactly what they are inspired by – and their products and work shows that. In music, Jonnine Standish, Lena Willikens, Nabihah Iqbal and Alex David Turner (always)! Politically speaking, Paris Lees is really speaking for and to the LGBTQ+ community and she’s doing it fantastically well. Politically speaking as in politicians - I actually feel a little bit disengaged, as the current government is so disgustingly dividing. I am sure soon though I will escape my ‘I hate the Tories’ bubble and begin campaigning again for Corbyn to be in No.10.
What are you favourite pieces to wear at the moment?
I am going through a strange style transition at the moment. I used to wear a lot of black, yet, I feel less like myself in black today so I’ve tended to steer towards more pale-coloured clothes, and I’m opting towards white a lot too. I want to feel fresh and not heavy! My favourite pieces to wear right now are my Rouje knit dress, and my Ami Paris crewneck heart jumper – I love being in menswear, it makes me feel so
sexy rolling out of bed wearing a boyfriend’s jumper. I also want to buy lots of shirt dresses for the summer, because nothing makes me feel more at ease with myself!
Your social media accounts show that you are a strong advocate for women's rights. Is this something you are passionate about and how do you see this issue progressing in today's society?
I am glad that is coming through, as I of course am an advocate of women’s rights. I am hugely passionate about equality for women - globally, and not just in a Western cis-gendered notion. I think women’s rights as a whole are a huge topic that I wouldn’t want to cover within just one paragraph, but I am really proud to be a part of a generation that is seeing so many faults and flaws in the current illusion of equality we have been fed. The Weinstein and #metoo movement is a great place for conversation to begin, and now is a time that women can voice and speak more freely and with backing – that is important. If women have one another’s backs, we can achieve unimaginable things. It is amazing how empowering women are to even be around! Now, I see it progressing where we have more authority of our opinions, yet, I still struggle with the notion that we are ‘achieving’ equality currently, because I see such inequality in the world – working class women are ignored in this country, women of colour are ignored in this country, migrant women are ignored in this country, and these problems span globally. I try not to be too cynical because I believe this generation is and are going to make a huge change for our daughters and for everyone to come. And I know that when I raise my own daughter, she will have a platform that has been created by a generation before her that has allowed for more rights for women, more protection around sexual assault and violence towards women, and more freedom to express who a woman can be and can become. I just want to see women in every role in the workplace, in the political system and being able to be whoever they want, without boundaries or without expectation.
If you had one topic you were given the chance to speak out about, what would it be?
I am currently really bothered by the fast fashion system and how it exploits non- Western factory workers – there is no equality and it is primarily still women that work in garment factories – exploited by the capitalistic fast fashion model we have, and workers’ rights become ignored. This huge topic could span in a thousand ways, however, my next project aims to uncover why it is we have been fed that this is ‘okay.’ That the women who make our clothes are not ‘over there’ but really are a part of us all, and that they should be considered.
What are your plans for the future? Can we expect any more Denude publications or do you have any other exciting projects you're working on right now?
My plans for the future are my most exciting I have had to date, and my friends are like “Laurie’s got the itch again!” I get these creative urges, where I have to execute a project. There will absolutely be another publication of Denude and it will be this year – it was going to be released soon, however, my plans have changed since the beginning of my new ‘itch.’ I am currently working on a project that ties closely in with Denude and what I have just discussed regarding the opposite of fast fashion, and a concentration on slow fashion. I am so excited to pursue it! I finish my Masters course within a matter of months, and then for me, I am going to experience being solely self-employed and curating and I cannot wait. The project will allow for me to travel, and I’m going to be able to do something I’ve always wanted to do and explore. I have just found my confidence in my ability, so now is the time to go for it I feel. It will be in the form of an exhibition though; I can tell you that – so you are all invited!