Over the past eight years, the Toronto cultural journal WORN has made its name as an alternative voice to mainstream fashion publications. Today, Montreal comics publisher Drawn & Quarterly announced it will release a collection of selected content from WORN’s first 16 issues.
Edited by the magazine’s founder and editor-in-chief Serah-Marie McMahon, The WORN Archive: A Fashion Journal About the Art, Ideas, and History of What We Wear will be released in May as a full-colour, 496-page paperback, with an introduction by fashion historian Valerie Steele. McMahon says it’s a means of sharing content from the magazine’s early days with new readers.
“A lot of our old issues are out of print – we had such a small print run when we started,” says McMahon. “It’s not a regular magazine. People want to have them as reference because, from the beginning, we made a concerted effort to not talk about trends or anything timely. As a journal, we talk about ideas and concepts.”
Collected by themes such as identity, history, and practicality (e.g., how to take care of clothing), The WORN Archive doubles as an art piece, featuring new photos, designs, and layouts created by the magazine’s art director, Alexandra Niit.
McMahon, who launched WORN while living in Montreal, spoke to other publishers about the project, but D&Q was always her first choice. “They always understood that we wanted it to be an art book,” she says. Although the publication has a dedicated international readership (roughly half its sales are from outside the country), McMahon is hopeful that the book, which will be distributed in the U.S. by Farrar, Straus & Giroux and in Canada by Raincoast Books, will help grow its fan base.
“We’re in America in a small way, but it is a chance to bring our ideas of how clothing is viewed to a whole new audience and get them to really think about what they wear in a different way,” says McMahon. “We already have relationships with a lot of bookstores, but this will help us expand to more than just the 10 major cities that we’re in.”
In a press release, D&Q associate publisher Peggy Burns says, “Along with selling the WORN Journal in our bookstore, we have been long-time personal fans of the publication…. Serah-Marie’s story is remarkably similar to [D&Q founder] Chris Oliveros. A young Montrealer with a particular obsession realizes there’s nothing quite like it in the marketplace, and undeterred, sets out to bring their crazy idea to life.”