​fashion wisdom from i-D founder terry jones

The man who started it all spoke about the origins of i-D, the first street style photography and more from his illustrious career as part of the London Fashion Week Talk Series.

by Charlotte Gush
23 February 2016, 5:00pm

i-D founder and former Editor in Chief Terry Jones spoke to a packed room of fashion students, fans and industry faces yesterday, in conversation with former i-D editor Dylan Jones as part of the London Fashion Week Talk Series presented by American Express.

Terry answered questions about his work as an art director at Vogue, the reasons he wanted to launch i-D magazine in 1980, originating street style photography long before the advent of blogging with the Straight Up format in the pages of i-D, why you shouldn't worry about making things perfect, and how the internet changed the fashion magazine game.

The originals of street style photography, Straight Up...
"People thought that the way you looked was how you thought," Jones says, explaining that newspapers demonised punk and suggested that punks were aggressive and stupid. In the same way the tabloid press today can paint young people as uninformed and apathetic, today's i-D Straight Ups prove otherwise, with creative young people expressing nuanced views on issues like austerity, the decision to bomb Syria and the Paris terror attacks.

"I felt fashion was much more exciting when people were allowed to express themselves," Terry says, explaining that this was in contrast to other magazines that sought to tell people what they should be wearing. He wanted to reflect what was happening on the street, on the Kings Road, saying, "The street was wide, all nationalities… it was really to show people at individuals".

i-D was started to cut out the journalists…
i-D's motto is "fans, not critics" and Terry explains that the magazine initially wanted to cut out the critics, replacing the establishment voices of the industry with the voices of creative young people themselves, through Q&As that accompanied Straight Up images.

Dylan Jones shared one anecdote from when i-D magazine was all hand made, with everything cut out and pasted in. Jones says he walked into a room where Terry was making the magazine, only to find him cutting a physical six inches from his article. "It wouldn't fit!" Terry explains, later giving budding journalists the advice to "Make your point quickly," adding that "words are really important" and he did come to respect the writing. "I would always encourage someone who can tell a good story," he explains.

Photographers, don't strive for perfection...
"If something is perfection, it's dead," Terry says, explaining that he would cut photographers' images up, slapping graphic text all over them to make the now iconic style of i-D. He even cropped images at Vogue: "Not Cecil Beaton, but most [photographers]".

"As soon as the photographer was out the door, you were going to mess [their images] up," Dylan Jones laughs, sharing another piece of Terry's photography wisdom: "Make the worst picture big, and the best picture small! He didn't like things too polished, not too good".

Terry explained that photographers could take hundreds of shots of each look and he would have to look through them all. He once asked an art director at Elle how he chose from so many negatives, and the guy told him, "Put your hand in the box, pull out a slide -- that'll do!".

Terry's 1978 book Punk was originally called…
What the Fuck is Punk?, but the publishers wouldn't allow it -- not very punk of them! But things have clearly moved on, as Dylan Jones notes: "Who would have thought that punk would be celebrated by the Mayor of London 40 years later!"