The best thing about Catalogue is the people who read it. Over the past six years, from print to online, the audience is what has let us learn, giving us the confidence to push a little further and be a little bolder. The whole point of launching a fashion magazine was to try and do something that wasn’t afraid to criticise the space it held, to examine the industry and in a way that only the industry itself can, and should.
Fashion is brutally powerful but is treated as though it’s not, partly because taking pleasure in clothes is seen as frivolous, partly because taking pleasure in clothes is seen as femme work and therefore not work at all. (The industry’s patriarchal irony is that most of the highly paid, top jobs are held by men, of course; the same lineage who also came up with the definition of ‘pleasure’). But it’s hard to both hold up the mirror, and be the mirror. The fashion industry is so sprawling and yet so neatly and specifically hardwired into every aspect of our lives that unravelling it can feel like an impossible task. It sort of is an impossible task.
At Catalogue, we started out by saying something about the things that made us uncomfortable. Calling out the campaigns that industry boys’ clubs used to dub ‘controversial’ and get away with; the magazine covers that behaved as though they were removed from any kind of sociopolitical context; the endless shitty things that influential people said and then barely apologised for. As we learned how to articulate why these things weren’t normal, why these things should be pointed out, we began building a critical framework. A critical confidence, too. Because Catalogue was also about providing space for people to think through ideas: I’ve worked with beautiful, crucial writers over the years who have taught me so much about how, and why, the best pieces are tethered by generosity.
But by making everything so easy, the Internet makes everything hard; it’s increasingly difficult not to panic about statistics, to not read the email at 2am, to not check every single comment, to stay relevant without sacrificing integrity or your sense of self. The decision we’ve made to close is about a lot of those things as much as it is about timing, that it feels we’ve reached natural conclusion.
Which is why, after all this learning, we want to whittle down the impossible task, isolating the fundamental, fucked-up fragments and seeing if we can help build something new. Well Made Clothes, the brainchild of Catalogue Editorial Director Courtney Sanders and Clean Cut’s Kelly Elkin, is an ever-evolving space where fashion is working harder to be a little better. While it’s a website where you can physically create, and adhere to, your own ethics by buying clothing, it also aims to provide you with information on how, where and why your clothes are made. So, the Catalogue editorial team will be moving across to Well Made Clothes this week and will be developing content that speaks to the environmental and social damage that an unregulated, largely unchallenged, fashion industry has wrought. We also want to shine a spotlight on the amazing people who are already working hard to make a difference.
Mainly, though: a huge and heartfelt to all of our readers and contributors, who have been nothing but brilliant. You make the Internet a better place! Here’s to you, forever and always.