Seoul’s DEARMagazine’s editor, Boree Choi, started the publication to give a voice to the forgotten actors of the Korean fashion industry. Interview with Boree Choi.
Baron: What’s the story behind DEAR Magazine?
Boree Choi: At the beginning we were just good friends who often met up and spent time at a café or restaurant, eating delicious stuff. We all liked magazines and had a rather rebellious character. Then somehow we started talking about publishing a small-scale magazine together. We visited small shops and studios and conducted interviews, and finally published a small-scale magazine, called DEAR Magazine. As it was great fun, we narrowed down the topic to fashion and published the second and third issues. However, we introduce more realistic aspects of fashion by reporting those who make fashion pieces, instead of reporting a luxurious aspect of fashion. DEAR Magazine is interested in and wishes to show people. Since our launch in 2011, we have published 4 books. To this day, there are 3 issues of DEAR Magazine, and before our 4th issue, we published a MOOK project called Word By Word. The latter is a collection of articles, rather than interviews, containing what DEAR Magazine’s members wish to say about fashion. We decided to use a very funny concept: choosing one specific word and playing an alphabet word game. So, the word we chose was ‘Fashion’, and the word that came up for ‘f’ was ‘Fuck’, haha.
B.: How does that translate to an editorial policy?
B. C.: Whenever a topic comes out during conversations between all the team members, we start and carry on, using all our abilities. There is no certain frame or due date, so we just do whatever we want. But just to explain our process: selecting a topic – preliminary research and study – interview/report – working on a design proposal – selecting and editing photos – completing a design – printing.
B.: Why choose print? What kind of paper do you use and why?
B. C.: These days, there are lots of different alternatives to a book, for example digital publication or web-magazine. We are aware of this phenomenon, and agree with its advantages. However, we believe that ‘printed’ magazines whose pages people can physically grab and flip through are still needed. I think it is natural for us who introduce people making fashion objects through manual labor, to produce a tangible magazine. We use vellum paper, and hope to have natural typography as we use both Korean and English.
B.: What has been the readers’ response?
B. C.: We cannot say that we have a huge readership. The area we are dealing with is minor, and I think people are very interested when they discover DEAR. Nevertheless, those who work in the fashion industry and scene like it, and it is certainly exciting to see people being curious about what we are going to do next. People who read DEAR Magazine say that they can actually learn from it. I think it is because we’re very practical in what we choose to report, discussing costs of production instead of talking about an abstract concept or images.
B.: Good print mags get a lot of love, but this isn’t always reflected in sales or advertising. How are your sales? What is your advertising philosophy?
B. C.: At the moment, DEAR Magazine is published without any marketing activities or advertisement. This advocates the “purity” of our magazine, but it also means that there are many hardships the team members need to deal with. In fact, I think we do not really like advertising… I agree that, business-wise, this is not the best mindset, but I want DEAR Magazine to have a different way to survive.
B.: Upcoming projects
B. C.: First of all, the biggest project ahead is our 4th issue. We dealt with products with a focus on fabric, but this time we are doing research on how fashion accessories, especially jewelry, are made. In Korea, we have lots of cheap yet fancy jewelry that’s seen as a fashion item, not as a symbol of wealth. As more people are interested, I think it will be a fun project. With our 4th issue, we are also thinking of having an opening party with performing indie musicians.