Contributing Editor: A Vehicle for the Next Generation.

March 8, 2009
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Though it’s only been in existence for the last six months, menswear-oriented online magazine Contributing Editor has made quite the impression on the blogosphere, presenting some of the most fresh and professional photo-stories and reports by some of the most commendable creatives at work in the industry. Without further ado (Editor-in-Chief Matthew Edelstein answers some burning questions)…

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1. Contributing Editor is arguably the first menswear/style-dedicated destination in the online magazine form. What convinced you to seize the opportunity and launch the magazine?

There was no grand epiphany that led to Contributing Editor, it happened very organically. I left Details to go freelance in the summer of ’08. This was the first time in my career that I’d been freelance and it took some getting used to. Instead of waiting for clients to approach me for jobs I decided to be proactive and do something myself. From there we started creating content and putting the site together. We launched on September 1st, 2008 with about 10 stories. On September 12th we had a “Two Week Anniversary” party. Early on we made the decision to start with mens because it’s less competitive than womens. If you do something halfway decent in mens fashion, people in the industry are excited about it. In womens they’re much less receptive. Now that Contributing Editor is established and people understand what it stands for we will slowly start to add womens. We always want to do things that feel natural and not forced so it has to be done in the right way.

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2. What was your intention in launching Contributing Editor?

To give the next generation of creative people in fashion a vehicle for their work. I also wanted to work with less restrictions and editorial parameters imposed on me. The best printed fashion magazines are locked down with a handful of photographers, stylists, designers, etc. It can be hard to break into that world. I thought it would be cool to reject some of that and be less precious about creating fashion images. I’m not saying that what a great, established fashion magazine does isn’t worthwhile. French Vogue, for instance, is consistently breathtaking and it moves fashion forward. I have incredible respect for these people but at this point in my career I want to work differently. Being a little online magazine allows us to be a bit more easygoing with the process and that makes me happy.
3. Who is Contributing Editor? Who forms the basis of the project?

I’m (Matthew Edelstein) the Editor-in-Chief and Ryan Schmidt is the Creative Director. Ryan and I met 10 years ago when we were both assistants at Harper’s Bazaar. We were also roommates for a time in a giant loft where we lived with an endless succession of shady characters. There’s been talk for a long time about working on a project together. The stars were aligned for us to do Contributing Editor.
4. Contributing Editor boasts a roster of some v. accomplished innovators, how did/do you garner such a group of talented contributors?
I only work with friends or with people I have personal relationships with. It’s more fun that way. I’m happy to add new contributors to the mix but I always want to hang out with them first to make sure we’re simpatico. When I work with friends there’s a visual shorthand and similar reference points. I love the idea that we’re developing a little community.

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5. For the shoots, is the clothing/accessories featured sourced solely by the stylists or is Contributing Editor involved in this process?

We work exactly the same way as any fashion magazine does. All the clothes come from a designer’s showroom or from press offices. I work closely with every contributor to make sure that what they’re doing is compatible with the Contributing Editor point of view.
6. Do you feel your being an online magazine as opposed to a print one hinders or helps you? Or both?

I don’t look at it that way. We do what we do to please ourselves and our friends. If other people like it too then that’s cool. It’s a very organic way to work; there’s no creative or financial pressure. If we can make ourselves happy then it’s already a win for me. Of course I want people to be excited by what we do but I don’t worry too much about what the naysayers are thinking. Fashion people have their knives out for anything new and they’re quick to judge. The mainstream fashion industry isn’t quite ready to accept that an online publication could be a viable alternative to a printed magazine. I’m happy to change minds one person at a time.

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7. And do you have plans to develop a print magazine? Or to monetize Contributing Editor?

Contributing Editor is always and forever an online publication. It seems to me that starting a new print magazine in the 21st century is not only old-fashioned but also a bit irresponsible. Of course we want to turn Contributing Editor into a viable business, otherwise it’s just a hobby. But we want to do it in a smart way and not rush into anything.
8. Is there a particular menswear-oriented magazine you admire?

I don’t really buy magazines anymore. I have a friend who is obsessed with magazines so I just go to his place and flip through the new ones. If I had to name one I’d say that Arena Homme Plus is the most interesting in menswear. They’ve really pushed mens’ fashion in a new direction in the last 5 years. A great fashion magazine should move the needle of fashion and not just observe from the sidelines.

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9. Just because I like to ask all interviewees, what’s your favourite film?

I could never have just one favorite film. All of these are deeply meaningful to me in some way. They’re constant reference points not only in my work but also in my personal life.

Breakfast At Tiffany’s
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Blade Runner
Qui Etes-Vous Polly Maggoo?
Dangerous Liaisons
Pride & Prejudice
Six Degrees of Separation
2001: A Space Odyssey
Bright Young Things
My Own Private Idaho
Less Than Zero

Much thanks to Matthew and co. Get over there now and check out reports from recent menswear weeks, delectable shoots and more.

Images from (and respective credits to be found at) Contributing Editor
  • kingchic March 10, 2009 at 9:36 am

    I LOVVVVVE Contributing editor. I AM [K]INGCHIC is all about their editorial spreads. My fav. to date is “I WANT YOU”.[K]

  • Larapixie March 11, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    great interview and Contributing editor is fantastic!!