Fashion, Wit, an Internship and MERDE
Nothing adds a bit of sparkle to the college experience like an internship in the industry. One of our very own Parsons graduate students, Molly Apple, is carving out a place for herself in the Paris magazine scene. Prior to launching MERDE Magazine and studying at Parsons Paris, Molly studied textile design, graphic design and fashion marketing at Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. She’s now in her second year of the MA Fashion Studies program writing a thesis on niche magazines. Molly’s interest in fashion magazines earned her an internship with KD PRESSE, a print and press products consulting agency here in Paris. In addition to services, they also have an incredibly cool magazine shop in the 16th arrondissement as well as a serious online archive bursting with rare and vintage magazines. I wandered over to KD Presse to catch up with Molly and learn more about her passion for fashion magazines.
What’s your thesis about?
My MA Fashion Studies thesis is about atypical self-published fashion magazines that stray from typical codes of glossy mainstream publications. These typical codes consist of historical mainstream fashion images that promote perfectionist, retouched beauty, mainly located in western European countries and the United States. They feature mainly high-profile famous figures such as actresses and models. The producers of atypical fashion magazines step outside the boundaries of the fashion system’s core characteristics of capitalist, consumerist intentions by utilizing postmodern aesthetics, engaging with ironic narratives. My research will focus on the specific publications Cheap Date, created by Kira Joliffe and Bay Garnett, and Mushpit created by Bertie Brandes and Charlotte Roberts spanning the years 1997-2016.
What inspired you to start a fashion magazine?
My initial idea behind MERDE Magazine stemmed from my desperate need for a creative outlet to express the feelings of angst, irony, and imposter syndrome I began to possess entering a career in the fashion industry. I had the feeling that many of my like-minded peers would agree with my sentiment. I am drawn to print magazines because of their tactile quality which pulls me away from the endless scroll of images on Instagram. Researching magazines for my Fashion Studies MA thesis, Cheap Date and Mushpit, led me to the stories of their creators. Through interviews with Bertie Brandes and Kira Jolliffe I learned how they played into the cultural and political currency of their own youth culture (at the time) and turned their crazy creative ideas into visually stimulating magazines. What I gained most from them was just to have fun. If you don’t love what you’re doing then why do it?
I aim to stray from typical commercial fashion publications. If there are advertisements, they are for businesses that mesh with our ethos, and the content is exclusively made for MERDE by our team to reflect the creative vision of my contributor network. This network consists of many friends from SCAD, as well as people I’ve met while living in Paris. I am grateful to my worldwide collaborators, I couldn’t do it without their support and hard work.
How did you go about finding a publisher?
I am the publisher! Self-publishing means you have complete control. I choose the page number, page quality, advertisements (or lack thereof) and deadlines. This lack of structure is a blessing and curse because while freedom is great, it’s also really difficult to know where to print, distribute, and get exposure. I had previously worked on a magazine in my Fashion Cultures class the guidance of our professor Justin Morin, director of Revue Magazine, so I used the printer from this project because I was already familiar. Though, after the first issue I have done more research by talking to other magazine self-publishers. and I had to “pound the pavement” as they say at first. Luckily, KD PRESSE reached out to me after the first issue launch and I’m now working with and for them! KD PRESSE is a distributor and consulting agency for magazines worldwide.
Is there anything you wish you’d known about making a magazine before you began the journey?
I don’t think I wish I knew anything, I knew it was going to be really difficult and time consuming, and not to mention expensive. But I’m someone that always needs a creative project on the side of whatever else I’m doing – it’s fun to laugh with friends and turn something we find funny into a photoshoot or article idea. I’m really lucky to have friends and family who encourage me to move forward with my passion project.
Now, I wish that you didn’t need big advertisements to be financially sustainable. Right now, all the profit from my first issue is going straight into the second to barely compensate my contributors for their valuable efforts, and I needed to create a kickstarter to be able to afford printing.
How did you find the internship with KD PRESSE?
My colleague now at KD PRESSE actually reached out to me in October 2019 about consulting and distribution for MERDE, and after meeting with them I voiced that I was really interested in how they work from the inside. The company is just two people and they needed extra help so I joined the team this January.
What kinds of tasks does your internship entail?
I am helping KD PRESSE and their store Les Editions Du Kiosque gain exposure on their Instagram accounts as well as finding new clients that are making magazines and are seeking assistance with distribution and other logistical matters.
Any advice for students about balancing an internship with schoolwork?
It’s really hard in Paris because most of the internship opportunities are full time commitments. I suggest finding smaller companies that are willing to work around your class schedule. These companies are usually more interesting to work for anyways because you get to help them grow. Ultimately, you want your internship to support your studies and your interests if you’re going to put in the time and work outside of school.
Has your internship and/or magazine-creating experience had any influence on your thesis?
It has all the influence! My magazine has become an ethnographic study for my thesis on self-published magazines that subvert the mainstream narrative typical commercial fashion magazines. My internship has broadened my understanding of the publishing world, especially in terms of distribution. They’ve also been a great resource in creating my second issue, in making connections and just overall support and encouragement.
Molly is currently raising money to publish the next issue of her magazine. Click here to support the publishing of MERDE Magazine, Issue No.2