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Sunday, May 31, 2009

On A Magazine Mission


The strong aroma of freshly brewed coffee and decadent pastries, the scent of glossy magazines filled with rich, colorful images, and the muffled chatter of shoppers...such is the mild rush of sensory input that occasionally overwhelmes me upon entering the magazine section of Barnes & Noble. Comparable to the rush that overcomes me when I walk into a River Island store in Europe, the Zara store in Pasadena, or almost any Urban Outfitters store, it's sensory overload. There's so much to take in that it can be overwhelming. Once I get my bearings and I'm able to maintain some focus, it's time to narrow down my browsing. At the bookstore, I'm on the lookout for magazines that are obscure in the suburbs since we don't have newsstands - Russh, i-D, Lula, Crash, Paper, Dazed & Confused, and Jalouse are the ones that make my pupils dilate in a quick flurry of excitement.

When it comes to international fashion magazines, Japanese ones are by far my favorites. I'll never forget the first time I read a Japanese fashion magazine. As I sat in a fashion class, a classmate passed around an issue of EF. Immediately captivated despite not being able to read the minimal text, I knew I wanted to see more. The area I lived in had several stores which stocked Japanese magazines and books. Some research led me to the best selection at a Kinokuniya store, where I became hooked after one brief browsing session. Unlike American and European fashion magazines, which often feature useless interviews with celebrities, the Japanese magazines have more of a catalog layout, rich with images and inspiration. They typically lack the abstract, high fashion shoots typical of something you might see in the back pages of Vogue or W. Although I'm not Japanese (or Asian), I found that I could relate more to the casual photography and the commercial-looking models. Now I pick up publications such as Soup, Jille, ViVi, Pretty Style, Cutie, Spur, Nylon Japan, and Russh Japan whenever I get the chance.

Since I'm an avid reader of a wide variety of fashion magazines, I've had to develop an organizational system for storing them. Like clothing, magazines take up valuable living space, so my system makes use of a few methods for preventing any unnecessary stockpiling. First, I casually flip through a magazine and fold over pages of anything that inspires me. Then, later, I'll do a more thorough read of the magazine and I'll rip out the pages I've folded. Eventually, the pages I've selected will be added to my always-growing style scrapbook for future inspiration and visual stimulation. (At this point, I'm on my fourth scrapbook in six years). In an effort to be environmentally friendly, I recycle the magazines when I'm done with them or when they're more than six months old. This makes room for newer publications on my small bookshelf.

I do make exceptions to my recycling habit, though. Certain publications, such as Lula, are so beautiful that I can't bear to tear the pages out, so I keep them. Does anyone else do this? I can't stand the thought of letting go of them. The photography and illustrations are on par with coffee table books, and such magazines stand the test of time once fashion trends change with each season.