No 15

Jessica Hsu/Guardian

Sixth College sophomore and editor in chief of the brand new No 15 magazine Kevin Nguyen is a walking fashion spread. Last Monday, he paired a green-brown plaid shirt and straight-cut black jeans with a nose ring, a wrist of silver spiked bracelets and a puffed ’80s pompadour. His own trend-busting addiction to style — which Nguyen says is inspired by fashion giants Lady Gaga and Alexander McQueen — motivated him to found No 15 in February.

Though No 15 isn’t the first fashion magazine to grace the UCSD news stands, the staff’s self-proclaimed affinity for “raw and raunchy” style has helped it stand out as the edgiest of its kind, according to founding member and marketing director Liz Kim. Unlike Fashion Quarterly — the first UCSD publication to model itself after fashion magazines like Elle — No 15 takes on more of a minimalist approach, focusing less on product and more on people, Kim said.

“When you read Vogue or Elle, you always say, ‘Damn, I wish I had that T-shirt’ or ‘Damn, I wish I was skinnier,’” Nguyen said. “But we keep that real and raw aspect. We push the people more and give them empowerment. We don’t Photoshop people’s bodies and put sixpacks in. We’re showing how they really are — not some super fantasy that we decide.”

Despite its alleged bareboned approach, A.S. Vice President of Finance and Resources Peter Benesch said that No 15’s $8,693.43 startup funds — used to produce and print 3,000 issue were the highest the A.S. Council has ever allocated to a publication. Associate Vice President of Student Organizations Andrew Ang explained that No 15’s higher price was warranted, as the publication strived to be a work of art that wasn’t just “thrown away.”

Kim said that No15’s first issue is slated to hit racks this Friday — delayed from its original May 1 launch-party release due to the printing company’s inability to print the issue the Friday prior. To spare the 3,000 glossy copies from weather damage, the issues will only be placed in locales with indoor news racks such as Cafe Roma, Price Center and the Loft. In addition, she said that all contributors, models and launch-party attendees will receive a copy of the magazine, and spares will be set aside for archives.

John Hanacek/Guardian

According to Nguyen, No 15’s articles on various student fashion designers emphasize the artists’ inspirations and goals, rather than their physical work. No 15 will primarily feature undergraduate photographers and models, with an occasional cameo photo shoot by a professional volunteer. Their debut issue will host a student-modeled photo essay entitled “We the People,” a homage to the varied fashion sense of students at UCSD.

“We wanted some self-expression: people who aren’t afraid to be who they are,” Nguyen said. “So we study people. We talk to them, see what they’re like and try to capture everyone’s essence. [During the photoshoots], we have them give directional and creative input, so it’s about them.”

According to Kim, the magazine endeavors to push boundaries — just like the Federalist Papers 15, which invited Americans in the 1700s to question the Articles of Confederation, and authority in general.

“No 15 [of the Federalist Papers] was an attempt to open people’s minds — a breaking away,” Kim said. “We’re not breaking away from the fashion industry, but we’re making people more aware. It also happened to coincide with the campus’s recent racial climate. I think [that] rebellious spirit is captured in our magazine.”

There’s no doubt about it: No 15 is shooting for shock and awe. Nestled between fashion-designer profiles and question-and-answer sessions with nonprofit shoe company TOMS Shoes are full spreads of food porn — gourmet food served on nude bodies — and women with their breasts on full display. But for the editors of No 15, the controversy these risque photos might stir on campus is a progressive foray into the real world.

“I feel like [UCSD students] are really isolated and protected,” Kim said. “We live in this bubble. We want people to go out and see more naked people, see things, I don’t know. Pop that bubble, get out of your comfort zone and see what more is out there.”

Readers can contact Jasmine Ta at [email protected].

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