LCF MA Review: Omi Magazine.

July 12, 2010
Not another bloody magazine. That’s generally my unjust and too aggressive response to being informed that yet another publication has been launched in what has to be considered by all accounts a market entirely saturated. Being an avid fan of print publications from the established, Vogue Hommes International, to the somewhat more niche, Fantastic Man, to online mags like the stellar London-based Fashion156, the above reaction is one more racked with anxiety rather than raw hatred.
I love both print and online media but fashion publications have a serious problem. As we all know, the sad truth of publishing anything fashion-related generally depends on hefty investment from advertisers. If this criterion isn’t filled, then the mag in question is usually relegated to a v. small space in the market or, worse yet, it finds itself shutting down (and I don’t mean in the Rachel Zoe positive sense).
Gay lifestyle magazines are not a world apart either. With so many men reading gay lifestyle magazines taking an avid interested in fashion and so many men’s style magazines catering with their often homoerotic editorial to a gay market, the line between the two grows increasingly blurred. Both genres tend to hanker after advertisers’ budgets by publishing banal content that’s fit between seemingly never-ending pages of eau de toilette, underwear, and sunglasses.
20db3 omimag1
So, to cut short my rambling, a magazine needs to say something to survive. Enter Ravi Kelay, creator of Omi Magazine. Initially conceived as an MA project, Omi is a magazine which seeks to re-define all that connotes ‘gay lifestyle magazine’. Featuring portraits of young gay men or those of a non-normative sexuality (and no, they’re not oiled, topless, or pictured with a dumbbell in each arm), insightful articles on everything from body image to Johnny Woo, as well as v. impressive editorial that’s more fashion-forward than flesh-flaunting, this is exactly what the magazine market needs. Publishers take note.
I caught up with Ravi to ask about it all (and do click through above to see the rest of the content – my shoddy Photoshop skills could only do so much)…

What inspired Omi Magazine?

What inspired OMI magazine was the fact that I went into a newsagents in Soho and noticed that the new edition of Attitude and the Gay Times was out and out of curiosity picked it up after having not read if for years. After having read it I realised how little relevance it had to my life at that point in time and how most of my gay friends were of a similar opinion and how strange it was that there wasn’t a magazine out there catering to gay men like myself, who weren’t overtly obsessed with the gay scene and still wanted something that would cater to use free of these ideas of a stereotypical representation of homosexuality.

Can you describe the process of creating the magazine?

The process of putting the magazine together was both stressful and incredibly rewarding. There were the contributors that were eager to take part who ultimately flaked out to the unexpected gems that you happened across who contributed some amazing work. Also, I think by collaborating with people the magazine definitely evolved and as a result, I feel, became a much stronger piece of work as a whole. I think with any project of this nature the most important input you can get is other people’s take on, and interpretation of, the ethos of what I was trying to achieve.

Will production of Omi continue or was it purely for your MA?

I am very interested in continuing production of my project post my MA and am looking to maybe launch it later this year.

Do you feel fashion perpetuates gay stereotypes or does it work to undo them?

I think it is too simplistic to say that whether fashion perpetuates or counteracts gay stereotypes. There is the whole stereotype about gay men who work in fashion but I think that the days of the queeny fashion gay are long passed and that, by and large, fashion as a whole perpetuates a much more positive representation of gay men in general.

  • Daniel July 12, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    Really curious to read it. Can it be ordered online somewhere?