Q&A with Fashion Quarterly Editor, Zach Roberts

To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Fashion Quarterly Magazine, The Guardian sat down with editor-in-chief Zach Roberts to learn about the struggles and rewards of running an independent, artistic publication.

Guardian: Could you introduce yourself and your involvement with Fashion Quarterly?

Zach: I’m the current editor-in-chief and also a writer for Fashion Quarterly Magazine. I’ve been editor-in-chief since last June, basically when all the old members graduated, and currently my responsibilities are managing the magazine, making sure all the members are assigned things to do, making sure all the events are planned smoothly, and working with the designer, especially to make sure the new issue is coming along. And I really wanted to continue to write, so I help the writers with their articles and then I have one article of my own in the new issue. It was important to me to keep writing.

G: How did you learn about Fashion Quarterly, and can you describe your involvement with it throughout the years?

Z: I first learned about it when I was a freshman here, and I had just gotten really interested in fashion in general and art, so I was looking at orgs that would suit those interests. I came across Fashion Quarterly but they were at the time in the middle of their year-end and they weren’t taking applicants, so I applied the next year as a sophomore and I got in as a writer. Basically, from sophomore until I was a senior I was a writer primarily, so I’d just write articles, but I started to do more and more things. I helped with photo shoots, and I helped market things and whatever else they needed, and I just stayed through two years of two different teams. And so when it came to this year, I just decided that it’d be cool to run it myself and it’s been really enjoyable. I basically found it because I was interested in finding somewhere on campus where I could put my passions for art and fashion into use. … It’s been a lot of work but it’s been very fruitful, productive, and fulfilling for me. And I feel very passionate about making sure it continues because it hinges a lot on people graduating and who is staying, and with the transition between teams, it’s hard to keep it going … It’s hard to do that for a small org that doesn’t get a lot of funding, it’s hard to keep the issues coming out year by year.

G: Can you describe the process of creating an issue of FQ?

Z: On our team, we have various groups of writers, artists, and designers, and so usually the process at the beginning of each quarter is we all gather and everyone pitches their ideas. Lately we haven’t been starting with a particular theme, we kind of just see where it goes, more of a collage style, and once the artists have their articles locked in, the designer and I will talk about what kind of design approach we’ll go based off the content of the articles, and then we’ll see if there’s any possibilities of collaborations with the artists. We actually recently got a website, and I think it’ll change things, because with issues there’s usually only one or two articles per writer and once they finish it there’s kind of a long time between then and when the issue’s finished because it takes a while to design, so in the meantime we’re going to hopefully have a lot more content be produced online. In terms of funding, we self-fund the printing, so basically fundraisers cover as much as we can. We did a Porto’s fundraiser earlier this quarter, we’re actually doing a Costco’s fundraiser this Thursday very last minute, and then the rest of it we see what we can gather up. So it’s pretty precarious to fund, to make it ourselves, but I think it makes it more rewarding in a way.

G: Approximately how many students are involved throughout the process? Can you describe the environment of the FQ?

Z: There’s about 15 of us, and we try to have biweekly meetings. We usually meet up at Geisel and it’s very casual. Besides that we also try to have team bonding every now and then, last weekend we all got pizza and that was fun. We try to maintain a very casual and fun thing. We also have work days every now and then where we gather for three hours on the weekend and just work on the issue. Everyone has things to do, so we just hang out together but are productive at the same time. It’s pretty various [in terms of members’ majors]: Communications, English, STEM, pretty much all across the board. On our website there’s our tagline “creating the content that you want to see,” and that basically summarizes it. Creating the content that isn’t available at UCSD, but we know we have the potential to make it, and there’s interest in this.

G: FQ is a very visual publication. How do you find the models and who edits the photos? Who determines the outfits the models wear? How do students shape the fashion element?

Z: Our name is Fashion Quarterly, but in the last year and a half we’ve been slightly turning away from fashion and abstracting ourselves to general visual culture, so art, photography, and fashion is involved but it’s not the main thing. But we do try to incorporate fashion still, we’re always looking for new photographers or models to collaborate with, and just always interested in gauging interest by going to various events on campus or looking on Instagram. Like last fall, there’s this organization in San Diego called “Picture Party,” and they’re a photography collective… they host events like picture parties where they all just gather and take photos and it’s usually split up between models and photographers and they kind of free-form. Last year we collaborated with them at their event they hosted here at UCSD, and so we received a bunch of submissions and we used that for our magazine that issue. This latest issue is actually very experimental. Our designer, Leo, is calling it an “anti-fashion magazine,” just kind of taking fashion as far away from what fashion is typically seen and in terms of viewing it in mainstream fashion magazines becoming corporatized in recent years and kind of sanitized, very clean. So this issue is very fragmented, so he used those submissions from Picture Party and he made this really interesting collage art of one face but using all these faces pieced together. And we’re going to do more of a traditional type Q&A article on our website, so the magazine itself will be just that visual. And the new issue is also just kind of very conceptual. Compared to our last issue there’s less photography and less fashion, and there’s more design so it’s very abstract and ambient. There’s three articles, one is about transparency, one is about fragrance, and one is about music. And so the design of each takes the feelings the article evokes … It’s flipping fashion on its head.

G: How would someone join FQ if they were interested in it, or if they wanted to learn more?

Z: Now that we have a website, it’s much easier to join. There’s going to be a contact section where you can ask about availabilities. During the year itself once we have our set team we typically don’t accept new applicants unless we have a need for it, but we’re thinking of having more of a rolling application…

G: What do you think the FQ contributes to the UCSD community?

Z: So I think at times UCSD has a stereotype of being kind of dull and artless, and that the students aren’t interested in these sorts of things … I think that we’re showing that’s not quite true, and that there’s real interest in this. At our launch party last year over 100 people came, and we’re expecting about the same this year, and I think that putting out student-run art and creation is really important but also [shows] that people are interested in it.

For more information, or to read Fashion Quarterly’s recent content, visit https://fashionquarterly.wordpress.com/


Image courtesy of Fashion Quarterly Magazine.