Post by Régine Paquette and Katie Frappier.
The Wornettes are heading to Ottawa to celebrate the release of The Worn Archive. The anthology is comprised of the first fourteen issues of WORN with each chapter dedicated to celebrating a different aspect of fashion. In anticipation of the event, we sat down with Serah-Marie McMahon, founder and editor of WORN to discuss their role in Canada’s fashion industry and what values they bring to their writing.
I don’t think I can say it’s a result of WORN, but we’ve seen some great strides toward a more diverse view of beauty. For sure people are paying more attention to not only showing white young skinny women. We are seeing a lot more kinds of people in fashion and media in general. Although we still have a ways to go to be truly inclusive, it’s getting better all the time and that is so encouraging!
This is something we grapple with at times, but we find solace in things like Worn and when meeting the creators behind our goods in the shop, but what are your thoughts on the “fashion industry” and its often nefarious side-effects (environmental devastation, conspicuous consumption, promoting unhealthy lifestyles/self-esteem). Do you feel like you’re a positive force within it, or do you see yourselves more as outsiders to that whole system?
We do our very best to be positive but, of course, we’re still learning. I find a lot of the time, for young girls especially, when they learn about feminism, they then start to feel bad or ashamed about still being interested in things like fashion or make-up because they are learning the ways those things have been and still are used to oppress women. It’s comforting for them to have an alternative way of viewing fashion – as something that can be used as a tool to express identity and to empower.
What are some accomplishments you’re particularly proud of?
When I looked up WORN in the local public library and they had copies! I’m a big fan of libraries and spent many many hours in them when I was a kid, so it meant a lot to me to see WORN in the stacks.
When I first started Worn, I couldn’t even imagine issue 2, let alone a book. But after so many years, we have a lot of issues that are totally sold out. So many readers expressed a desire for a whole set – and in a format that would last. When we redesigned the format a couple years ago, we started thinking how great it would be to compile everything pre-redesign all together in one package. Luckily Drawn & Quarterly thought so too.
We love recommending Worn to everyone but especially as a gift for teens. What kind of an impact do you think worn has on young minds?
I do a lot of talks to students, and one of the first things I ask is if they have ever felt bad about themselves after looking at a fashion magazine. Every time, almost every single person raises their hand. I think it’s really a shame that is the most frequent response to such a great and fun way to be creative and expressive. I hope that WORN can provide a place to see more than just that one kind of beautiful.
Your contributors are amazing and truly embody WORN. How do you go about meeting and fostering such talent? Your team is truly exceptional!
We are really lucky. Most people come to us via an internship, and then they just stick around. They find a crook in the organization that suits them and they get to work. It makes me so proud to see how far everyone has come and to see them all bring the values and ideas of WORN and spread them to the other places they end up working.
The Wornettes seem like the funnest gang. What do you guys like to do for fun? Also, what song do you think is most likely to get all the Wornettes on the dancefloor at the dance party?
We dance, we watch movies, we do a LOT of karaoke. We hang out, take pictures, swap books. Beyoncé all the time for everything. There are a lot of Supremes in our lives as well.