exclusive: tavi gevinson is the cover girl for polyester zine issue four
Editor Ione Gamble tells i-D about shooting self-publishing legend Tavi Gevinson for the cover and picks her favorite quotes from the zine.
Photography Meg Lavender for Polyester Zine
Arguably the coolest zine on the London self-publishing scene, Ione Gamble's Polyester is back for a blockbuster fourth issue. The unashamedly political, feminist zine is on a quest to eclipse clickbait bullshit with provocative, meaningful work from a diverse community of women and queer-identifying creatives, and this time around they've got Rookie editor-in-chief Tavi Gevinson and designer GoGo Graham as cover stars, as well as features on Rihanna's "Bitch Better Have My Money" video star Sanam Sindhi, drag performer Victoria Sin, twinkle-heavy R&B babe Rina Sawayama, and performance- and spoken-word artist Liv Wynter.
Ahead of the zine launch next Tuesday at London's Moth Club (to be followed a "Blind Date" after-party in collaboration with Sassitude), i-D caught up with Ione to find out what Polyester has been up to since Issue Three, what it meant to shoot Tavi for the cover, and to take an exclusive look at some of the best quotes from a stellar line-up of contributors.
What have the Polyester team been up to since Issue Three?
Since issue three we celebrated our first birthday with a day of panel and workshops at The Glory, London, which was basically like a fab daytime sleepover with our readers and contributors coming together to discuss important issues and make tinsel tiaras and stuff like that. It was really nice to see our community come together IRL aside from our launch parties and something I definitely want to do more of. Apart from that we've been focusing on issue four, as well as running zine and selfie workshops at places like the Tate!
What can we expect to see in Issue Four?
This is our biggest issue yet, and took the most time to create, so I feel like it's a really special one. I interviewed Tavi Gevinson for one of our covers shot by our regular collaborator/Polyester family Eleanor Hardwick; Tayler Smith shot Gogo Graham dressed as the scene queen of our dreams; we profiled female drag queen Victoria Si; chatted with spoken-word artist Liv Wynter; as well as dealing with issues such as anxiety and being an eternal sad girl in our photographic editorials.
You note that Polyester probably wouldn't exist without Tavi Gevinson, so what does it mean to interview her for the cover?
Her influence on the feminist- and self-publishing community has obviously been huge, so in that sense it was amazing to be able to shoot Tavi for this issue. I think, more than anything, she helped show other girls that it was possible to create and curate projects on your own terms.
There's no theme for the issue, but did any ideas or trends present themselves as you went along?
I think it's possible in terms of themes to explore a larger agenda across multiple issues without tying them down individually to themes. In this issue, a lot of the content seemed to be loosely connected in the sense as always we're profiling women and queer people carving out their own spaces in the world on their own terms. We also deal a lot with the feelings and taboos that are still existing surrounding issues such as mental health.
Your editor's letter says Polyester aims to bring about real change, not just create clickbait. What are the issues that the zine connects to, and what change do you want to see?
Some of the issues the zine connects to are those of intersectional feminism, gender issues/politics, and lack of diverse representation across all areas of the media (and wider world).
I'd like to see the ridiculous beauty standards the fashion industry upholds demolished, in terms of both racial diversity and body sizes/image. Ultimately, obviously, equal rights for women and queer people is the overall goal. I also feel really passionately about the disproportionate opportunities for working-class people and people from low-income backgrounds compared to those from more privileged families, especially under the current Tory government. I hope Polyester provides and inclusive platform for these people to share their work.
If you had to boil the new issue down into a few favorite quotes, what would they be?
Victoria Sin, drag performer, told us: "Drag is a series of appropriations on top of each other. It's, like, you've been appropriating the culture of femininity, am I appropriating femininity from gay men? Once you start looking into it, it absolutely starts falling apart. These arguments are not only idiotic, but pure misogyny; that being a woman would not allow you to participate in gay culture."
Sanam Sindhi on Rihanna's "Bitch Better Have My Money" video fame: "The internet was made for people to find each other and build communities, so it only makes sense that so many women would be creating and flourishing"
Tavi Gevinson, Rookie Editor-in-Chief: "I just think it's dangerous to give too much power to certain voices and to confuse posi-vibe feminism for actual progress."
Rina Sawayama, R&B musician: "It seems like a lot of the industry is still made up of these dinosaurs who were around in the heyday of the music industry and now it's so different, but it's still a boys' club."
Liv Wynter, spoken-word artist: "You know what? As a rape victim and a victim of domestic violence, every single day I stand on both feet is a fucking hardcore rebellious political act."
Text Charlotte Gush
Images courtesy Polyester Zine