Everyone always follows WGSN and Style.com to see what new trends will rule the runways next season. However, there's something unabashedly fresh and cool about digging through racks and racks of thrift store goods and finding something that truly speaks to you and your own sense of fashion, regardless of trend. Similarly, there is the unequaled appeal of indie designers, the unkowns, who live on the edges of mainstream fashion and yet are often the most innovative; making up their own rules and define style in new, celebratory ways. Being able to think outside of the box and unleash your own creativity without having a barrier to define the next big think, Now that's indie! As an online fashion media publication founded on these ideals, N.E.E.T. magazine has been showcasing the best under-the-radar talent for over three years. Stephanie J, creator of N.E.E.T. Mag is a leader in fashion’s evolution and opportunity online. In this interview, Stephanie shares all about how her underground indie publication puts its own spin on corporate capitalism.
PR: What is N.E.E.T. Magazine all about?
SJ: N.E.E.T. is an online publication dedicated to showcasing real talent - independent fashion, design, art, photography and writing. It is also a one-woman venture - it was an idea I had back in 2005, and I personally lay out, design and organize each issue of the magazine.
PR: Tell us a little bit about your grassroots initiatives.
SJ: I first had the idea to produce a magazine that featured only "grassroots creativity" because of young artists and designers I have come across on community-based websites (Livejournal, Flickr, Deviantart, Etsy etc) and I wanted to create a showcase for this work which is produced off their own bat - not because they've got a massive budget backing them or fat-cat stakeholders in their companies.
PR: Who/what gets featured in N.E.E.T?
SJ: Anyone and everyone - as long as they're independent. Fashion designers, crafters, illustrators, photographers, fashionistas, journalists, boutique owners, bloggers, vintage lovers, stylists, make up artists, eco-friendly stores, fairtraders - in N.E.E.T. I feature original, quality and well made items.
PR: How do you prefer to receive pitches from PR agencies?
SJ: To be honest, I prefer dealing straight with the designers and artists themselves. I want them to know that I've seen their brand and I want to feature them in the magazine, and interact with them directly.
PR: What has your experience been in dealing with PR? Any horror stories?
SJ: Not that I recall - I did have someone who was rather aggressive and emailed me everyday for a while.
PR: With so many designers jumping on the "indie" bandwagon, how do you differentiate the real from the fake? What is indie design to you?
SJ: An indie designer is someone who crafts from their kitchen table. A graduate just out of fashion school. A team of people with a shared vision, creating something for the love it.
PR: What kinds of stories can we see in N.E.E.T?
SJ: Well, you won't find features full of patronizing advice on how to be the world's best lover, or packed full of ads featuring products that are way above the average 20-something's price range! N.E.E.T. features news and information on what's happening on the internet in the indie fashion world - bloggers, new stores, indie music, and designers’ collections.
PR: How has online media changed since you started N.E.E.T back in 2005?
SJ: Over the past three years, there has definitely been a move towards being online - many of the big newspapers and magazines have an online edition. Also, there's been a variety of young people starting their own online magazines which is great. My reasons for producing N.E.E.T. online were manifold - cost, distribution, eco-friendliness, availability, and also, as all the shops featured are online, links are provided to the relevant sites so readers can click straight through without having to remember something they read in a paper magazine in a bookstore, for example.
PR: What is it going to take for online fashion magazines to get the recognition of an international audience? How does N.E.E.T. set itself apart?
SJ: N.E.E.T. already reaches an international audience! The magazine is read by people in far flung places - Chile, Australia, Israel, Mexico, Taiwan - as well as the UK and the US. That's the beauty of the internet - N.E.E.T. is available, for free, to anyone with a computer. N.E.E.T. is different to other online magazines as it's always been an online magazine, it's been around for three years, and its unique selling point is its independence.
PR: What are three upcoming trends (can be cultural, industry, media, or fashion related) on your radar?
SJ: N.E.E.T. doesn't religiously follow trends like other magazines. It's all about a lifestyle not a must-have item. However, N.E.E.T. has started featuring organic bath products and mineral cosmetics in recent issues. In the June issue, fair-trade shopping will be a feature, as will more eco-friendly shops and designers.