how to start your own zine by ione gamble
Want to get into fashion, but not sure which path to take? From designers and stylists to writers and directors, we asked a few i-D friends and family how they made their fashion dreams a reality.
Ione Gamble is the founding editor-in-chief of Polyester zine, a celebration of all things trash, kitsch, and camp. Frustrated by the industry's media's representation of fourth wave feminism, and inspired by the progressive work of women and queer people working around her, she set up her own publication from her London bedroom two years ago. Dedicated to social politics and its intersection with fashion and personal identity, Polyester has gone from strength to strength. While working on the sixth edition and moonlighting as a freelance writer on the side, Gamble shares with us her top tips for taking on the industry.
What I do and why I do it:
"I create and edit a self-published zine called Polyester. I created Polyester during my second year of university, frustrated by the media industry's representation of fourth wave feminism and favoritism towards minimalism. [I was] obsessed with the group of young women and queer people I knew online who were creating progressive, beautiful work but weren't being provided with a proper platform to showcase it. From early teenhood I always knew the area in which I wanted to work, but not the specific job. I was obsessed with collecting whichever magazines I could get my hands on, watching VHS tapes bought from thrift stores, and constantly scrolling through Tumblr seeking things out. After a short stint studying photography during my A levels, I decided journalism was the path I wanted to pursue.
I'm not sure there was one specific person or thing that made me want to decide to do what I now do — the generation of women I grew up with was always creating things on its own terms. Watching my peers produce imagery, writing, and zines at a much younger age than I felt confident doing, eventually gave me no reason not to give it a go myself. Seeing people actually buy and enjoy the first issue of Polyester was a nice moment as before then, I'd sort of created this thing without really knowing if anyone would like it, if it would resonate with anyone else, or how it would be received more generally."
A day in my life:
"Consists of a lot of emails, mainly. Juggling my freelance assignments while working towards the next Polyester print issue and administrative tasks such as packaging up the zines sold that week. I look forward to the point in production of an issue in which most of the planning is out of the way and we begin shooting or I start interviewing people who we're featuring. A task I hide from is definitely tackling my mammoth pile of unread emails. The most rewarding aspect of my job is seeing people come to the launch parties, zine fairs, or even just posting a picture of the zine on Instagram and seeing that other people actually engage with the project. The biggest misconception about my job is that you'll be making lots of money. Polyester by no means pays for me to live and being advertising/sponsorship free, all of the money we make goes towards producing the next issue and paying our contributors' expenses."
The moment that made me:
"This is a difficult one to answer as I tend to separate what I think of as 'my career' to what I do with Polyester as a publication — even though obviously certain aspects of the two are linked and intertwined. In terms of my own career as a freelance journalist: Ashleigh Kane was the first person that approached me about writing for her and has always been so supportive of what I do. In terms of Polyester, I think the defining moments so far in terms of advancing the zine have been our Meadham Kirchhoff feature in issue two and securing Tavi Gevinson as our cover girl for issue four. Both of those features were incredibly important to establishing the zine's tone of voice and gave me the opportunity to work with figures I hugely admired personally. The first birthday party we threw for Polyester was really cool — seeing hundreds of people come together to have important discussions on feminism, gender, and social politics while also doing completely fun and ridiculous workshops like creating crowns out of pipecleaners and partaking in a live photoshoot with Maisie Cousins. It really cemented the community around Polyester that I've always strived to create."
To degree or not to degree, that is the question:
"I went to university, and did a degree in Fashion Journalism. Although don't think it's entirely necessary in order to have a successful career in journalism, the grants and loans that were available to working class kids (before the Tories scrapped them) — who couldn't afford to intern for free off the back of their parents' paycheck — did mean it was a more viable route for many (including me) than going out into the industry alone. I think work experience is completely necessary and more important than studying in some cases. But traditional placements aren't the only way of securing job offers — during university I wrote for smaller publications, and other zines before I established my own, which provided me with the invaluable experience of working with editors and pitching ideas. It also meant I wasn't hugely reliant on working for other people for free full time and already had contacts in place when looking for freelance work once I'd graduated. Be enthusiastic and don't be afraid to chase things up — people are busy and forgetful, but that's not to say you should hound them with five emails a day until they reply. Apply for places you genuinely care about; give reasons as to why you want to work for them and why you feel like you'd fit in well there. Most of all don't feel disheartened by rejection as something will always work out! The biggest lesson I've learned is to persevere against all odds, stand up for yourself when you know you should be getting paid, and don't let anyone or thing get in the way of what you want."
What I wish I knew then that I know now:
"Maybe that harding work does actually pay off and as much as people say that the fashion/media industries are super difficult to break into, if you're motivated enough then anything is possible. Make sure you really know what you're getting yourself in for — starting and maintaining a zine is a lot a lot of work but really, really worth it when it all pays off. Find a strong community of friends and creative peers to surround yourself with and work with each other on projects both just for fun and in a professional context. Write for other people before you try and go it alone."
I'm excited by tomorrow because:
"I'm currently in the early stages of planning Polyester issue six. We're also looking to make some changes to Polyester online and organize more events in between now and the next issue. At the beginning of each issue, the thing that excites me the most about making Polyester is the opportunity to work with a load of new inspiring people, or the opportunity to interview someone who's work I have loved for a really long time. I think that's the best thing about working in a creative field — making things collaboratively, watching the images and words other people have produced for the issue who live in other parts of the world be submitted, and eventually seeing it all come together in the form of a printed publication. I'm inspired by my peers and creative women. In general, the community around me of visual artists and activists who continue to fight for the causes they believe in and create inspiring work inspire me to continue doing what I'm doing. Spoken word artist Liv Wynter completely made me reconsider my own writing style after reading the brilliant profile she wrote on fellow performance artist Liv Fontaine for our current issue. My friend Maria Cabrera who helps run Reel Good Film Club, and Art Baby Gallery's Grace Miceli both work so hard and both of their individual hustles inspire me daily."