FASHION PUBLISHING INSIGHTS: YOKO MAGAZINE
Educated in Argentina and having begun her career in fashion working in Ecuador and Lima, Peru, Guila Saltos’ life-long fascination with magazines ultimately led her create her own publication. She started Yoko Magazine to create opportunities for underrated talent globally to showcase their work. Blending fashion with the creative arts – art, music and film – the magazine, based in Toulouse today, features a diverse range of content – from fashion editorials and interviews to films and curated playlists. We caught up with Saltos to discuss everything – from the early beginnings of Yoko Magazine, creating content and finding contributors, to the launch of their very first print issue.
Tell us a bit about your background and what led you to establishing Yoko Mag.
I’m half Russian half Ecuadorian. I was born in Russia, and when I was eight years old, we moved to Ecuador. I think this was the first cultural mix to really influence my life. I studied in Argentina and lived there for six years. It was in Buenos Aires I learned so many different things and found my taste and what I loved. I was always surrounded by different kinds of people from different backgrounds – not just from the creative world – who all had a really strong point of view. It is this background that allows me to find inspiration in different areas and learn something surrounded by this kind of people.
I returned to Ecuador to work as a fashion editor in a design magazine, and then moved to Peru. While in Lima, I decided to start YokoMag. I always had a crush on magazines; I loved spending my time in libraries surrounded by books and having their different colors, shapes, materials and images displayed everywhere. The problem is that magazines have a commercial side, which I love, and they don’t always give young talent a chance. I know this because I was working as a director in a fashion school for three years, and was involved in finding opportunities for students who I believed had talent and a strong taste.
YokoMag became stronger when I moved to France last year. In Peru, I was busy with my styling and art-direction career, and the fashion school, so I couldn’t give it 100%. Here, I made a shift and decided to focus on what I love and believe in, including YokoMag. This is our whole concept – believing in a different vision and giving everybody an opportunity with the same rights. So here we are.
Did you feel that you had to first make a name for yourself in the industry before starting the magazine? Why (not)?
I think maybe yes; I mean, you can come from a different background within the industry, but to actually understand and create something interesting, I think you need to be involved; and that means still working towards it. Of course, you need to show your work to be able to contact people for the first time and attract artists or an agency, and collaborate with them on exclusive projects. Networking also works.
As a trained stylist, I think it would be more expected to launch an all-fashion magazine. Why did you choose to include creatives from other sectors, as well?
Because I’m in this industry, fashion underpins almost 80% of the magazine, but I love movies, art, music and people – for me, inspiration derives from all. You cannot make fashion, if you get inspired only from fashion. Of course, I’m not an expert in the other fields, but I try to find in them the mood that matches perfectly the aesthetics and DNA of YokoMag. Also, I’m working with people who appreciate or focus on these areas, and this gives YokoMag another point of view in the same concept.
For me, everything is visual, sensorial. Images say a lot, but music and words can complete and make a project more interesting. Actually, the style of fashion editorials in YokoMag is experimental; it’s provocative and at the same time it’s beautiful and sublime. We don’t want to show just a trend, we want to show a concept, an expression. That’s why in our editorials they don’t always star models, brands or conventional outfits.
I imagine you have the role of the creative director in the team. Who is in charge of the editorial?
Actually, I’m in charge of everything, but I have different and regular contributors who really give YokoMag a different and interesting point of view.
Independent publishing has democratized the industry a great deal. However, is there something that you believe only a corporate magazine could give you?
It’s hard to explain. It sounds ridiculous, but at the same time it’s kind of different and the same. Independent magazines give you the opportunity to be more free in the way you work and how you want to present it. That’s why because today there is an ever-increasing number of independent magazines and more and more photographers collaborate with them. Independent magazines are more selective, you cannot buy them everywhere and are a bit more expensive. Corporate magazines have more limitations, but they are everywhere. Your work can reach every single part of the world, even people who aren’t interested in fashion. I think what is happening today is that established magazines are acting with the freedom of indie magazines, and the latter are benefiting from the globalization.
How do you create the content? Do you commission the editorials and features to contributors or are they the ones reaching out to you?
A lot of times everything results from inspiration and investigation. Everything is really fluid until a project wraps up.
With regards to the contributions and the submissions, I do both, but they are exclusive. A lot of projects are carried out with contributors – it’s more interesting this way. You enjoy the process and you are all happy when the project is complete. But I accept submissions, as well, which is also interesting, in the sense that people completely understand Yoko’s mood and send us amazing projects exclusively for the magazine. It’s like curating art: analyzing the work, choosing the best photos, the cover, the layout, etc.
Do you monetize your magazine yet or have you such aspirations? How easy is it for an independent magazine to sustain itself and its team?
We don’t monetize right now – it’s kind of difficult of course to sustain a magazine, if you have many projects going on. We have received some interesting proposals and put the ideas on paper to make sure they are the right fit and not mess our mood. I know I make it sound like we are a big team, but actually everyday it’s just me and my cat! I work with contributors, both in the same country and international, who are regularly involved in projects.
Do/Would you work with interns? As part of the new generation entering the industry, how do you feel about unpaid work?
We haven’t worked with interns yet. We would love to start working with interns probably next year, when we will all be based in France.
Where do you see your publication going in the future? How do you feel about the publishing-meets-ecommerce trend?
Actually, we just launched our first print issue 0, which is also available online. It’s the start of the big projects we are currently working on. I’m happy because YokoMag is growing fast and has its own aesthetic and mood. I love saying that it’s a magazine created from different cultures and points of view, and includes independent projects, recognized and fresh talents or students. For me, it’s all about giving a chance to emerging artists to express themselves.
Images © Yoko Magazine