Put your reading glasses on

These four publications unsettle the way we perceive fashion, technology and the self.

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In an age obsessed with immediacy, the touch and clink of metal has become a comfort zone, and lavishness meets our gaze anyplace we go. Still, while fashion overflows with designer crocs and AI eclipses human identity, there exists a group of voices that question the way we operate in the world. And because reading the good stuff is fundamental, we introduce you to Monument, Press & Fold, PORTAL zine and NXS—four Dutch publications that we reach for when we sense that meaningful dialogue is lost and we need to look back or within in order to move forward. Local in location yet global in aim and conception, these four teams of critical minds are unsettling the way we perceive fashion and style, technology and the self. In times when everyone loudly out-speaks the other, choose to listen.

Press & Fold

Reading Press & Fold is similar to the rollercoaster experience a first date could be. The nervous excitement upon first glance becomes a breathtaking engagement that then forces you to question your entire existence. Yet, you can’t help but relinquish the final moments with utmost satisfaction and a sense of bigger things to come. Hanka van der Voet’s editorial letter reflects on the presence of ‘the street’ in fashion—the inaugural issue’s theme—and it appears as an honest response to fashion’s brutal state of flux that forever re-appropriates in order to sell a lifestyle of abundance. Her introduction to Press & Fold opens a door that most other fashion magazines purposefully hide: the entrance to a conversation about what makes something fashion and who has the power to decide.

Through a series of critical approaches, such as the contextualization of 1990s fashion critique, an interview with Dutch designer Camiel Fortgens or a Walter-Benjamin-inspired montage narrative that re-thinks fashion waste, Press & Fold—art directed by Dutch designer Beau Bertens—welcomes us into its world of theoretically-informed yet playfully witty articles and visuals that allow us to image an alternative reality where fashion is not simply a commodity. Would you show up to the date?

Monument

Neither made of stone, nor standing on a public square, this is the word-built paper Monument that must grace any fashion-informed library. Founded by Mary-Lou Berkulin and designed by Karen van de Kraats, Monument oscillates between a DIY fanzine and a high-end journal. Such ambivalence in its materiality also reflects the publication’s unconventional concept—demonstrating how change in the trend-fixated fashion realm can be initiated and driven by retrospect.

For its debut issue, Monument brings to light the long forgotten archive of analogue photos and attic-stored garments of Dutch designers Melanie Rozema and Jeroen Teunissen. Their joint label Rozema/Teunissen, which existed for a brief period of five years from 1997 until 2001, finds new life within the pages of the publication through an adept mix of old sketches, personal photos and contemporary shots that emphasize the designs’ ahead-of-their-time nature. What appears to be at stake is fashion’s obsession with re-invention and the new, and Monument demands a critical step back into the past before throwing ourselves amidst a world of hype.

PORTAL

When it comes to tracing personal connections to clothing and fashion value beyond financial gain, we turn heads to PORTAL zine. The publication’s third edition documented an item of clothing per visitor at the State of Fashion 2018 exhibit in Arnhem, asking each person to take off the garment, make an outline of it with tape and answer a selection of questions regarding the item’s production and ownership, the used materials, and so on.

🌎🌍 PORTAL 002 — PORTAL offers a ‘way in’ for understanding garments from a multitude over overlapping and intersecting perspectives. The taped lines of the PORTAL map criss-cross the surface of the collective canvas mapping the ways in which our clothing can be a trace of the connections between and intersections of personal, economic, social, cultural and political realms…… . It connects locations (all items that are made in China are connected with pink tape) and temporalities (all items that were purchased in 2018 are connected with brown tape) that are not usually part of how fashion presents itself. In the context of the fashion exhibition PORTAL inverts our gaze, shining a spotlight on the intricacies of our own outfits and extraordinary aspects of the everyday as opposed to the myth of the exclusive fashion image worn by exhibition mannequins. . (excerpt text by Ruby Hoette @fashiongoldsmiths – for forthcoming PORTAL002 zine) @stateoffashion2018 @amsterdam.warehouse #therealityofclothing #elisavanjoolen

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What this unorthodox endeavour resulted in is a dive into the layered structure that fashion and dressing-up is—a multitude of locations, emotions and temporalities. Capturing actual humans’ experience around the everyday clothing choices they make and unearthing the ignored emotional value we attribute to the things we put on our bodies, PORTAL introduces us to a reality where branding and luxurious exclusivity make way for personality and complex everydayness.

NXS

If we simply say that NXS stands out, we won’t do it enough justice. The publication, which is an artwork and entire world in itself, puts the conversation about ‘the self’ in our digital age into perspective. Slick and slender in design and based on collaboration and dialogue, NXS invites future oracles, polymorph muses, techno poets, cyber-feminists and dominatrices to join the array of reactive works that an introductory piece sets in motion and which collaborators advance by responding to each others’ thoughts and ideas.

NXS’s third issue, themed ‘Viral Bodies’, is an exciting mix of personal confessions, mind-itching science fiction pieces, uncanny illustrations and eerie visuals—all adding up to a sincere reflection on what makes us who we are. The experimental approach has impactful results; what is usually a one-way discussion on ‘the self’ and technology is transformed into an open-ended dialogue that clears up space for unpredictability and playful links between viewpoints.

Words by Valkan Dechev

Photography by Barrie Hullegie, Marc de Groot, Rebecca Eskilsson, Tenant of Culture and Ruby Hoette

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