Nick Remsen is a second-year MA: Fashion student, attaining his degree in fashion journalism. Halfway through the programme, he founded and launched HOMECOMING MAG (www.homecomingmag.com) – an online journal covering digital culture as it relates to fashion and lifestyle across The Americas, Europe and The Middle East. Here, he talks to 1 Granary about his publishing endeavor, the course – which is the least publicized of the six MA: Fashion pathways, and his obsession with hi-fi writing versus lo-fi everything else. Nick Remsen
Tell us about yourself. Who are you? Where are you from? Etc.
I’m Nick (Remsen). I’m 24. A virgo. Relatively content. Incredibly restless. I’m from a small town outside of New York City called Locust Valley, where my parents still live. I’ve also called Florida, Manhattan and Connecticut home. I went to the University of Miami for my BA/undergraduate degree in advertising. While there I was lucky enough to work for and with Tomas Maier at his eponymous label – he’s also the creative director of Bottega Veneta – the experience of which cemented my interest in fashion. In retrospect, it feels a little like fate – Bottega was the first big brand I ever really took notice of (I even asked for a woven-leather wallet for my high school graduation gift). So the fact that I ended up working with Mr. Maier, in South Florida of all places, seems eerily lucky. It was there I learned to appreciate and value all the angles and intricacies of the fashion industry – it was pretty much amazing.
Why CSM? Why fashion journalism? How did you get in to CSM?
‘Why CSM’ should be obvious – Saint Martins has no competition in my opinion. Granted, I don’t think the New York schools even offer fashion journalism as a pathway at a Master’s level, but if I were a designer I’d still have my sights set solely on CSM. I’m not a huge fan of anything conventional or cliche – and Saint Martins MA fashion grads consistently show designs which are unconventional and anti-cliche. Thus the school holds for me, if anything, a natural sensible and aesthetic magnetism. As for why fashion journalism, the answer is pretty boring: I love writing. I think I got in to CSM through luck, the fact that my tutor ‘laughed’ when he read an old blog I’d had going with a friend back in the States, and the fact that they probably needed a boy on the pathway.
Tell us about social life at CSM… Any crazy stories?
Of course! But those cannot be published.
We did have a nice time with most everyone from the MA at the after-party for the graduate show over London Fashion Week. Lots of Azealia Banks was played. I think the vodka we used was called “Seriously?,” which ended up being of a pretty decent standard despite its ridiculous name. Otherwise there have been some late nights at Joiner’s in Shoreditch or Efes in Dalston, but for the most part if you are on the MA, your number one priority is the MA.
Tell us about the fashion journalism course – what is its structure, how long does it last, what did you study?
The fashion journalism pathway is under the MA: Fashion umbrella, but we’re a much smaller group and our tutors don’t really overlap – except for Louise Wilson, with whom we meet every so often. We basically have one primary tutor who mentors and teaches us throughout the duration of the two years (or, +/- 18 months), and then various tutors who lecture on everything from the history of fashion to styling. We’ve also got a ton of guest speakers (some arranged by Louise for all or most of the MA, some arranged specifically for the journalists by Roger [our main tutor], and some arranged for by others). The guest speakers, at least so far, have been great. I kept notes on all of them in one dossier which I will never, ever get rid of – too much insight!
What is your overall impression of the course?
A++. I could maybe see some people frustrated by the amount of autonomy the journalists have, but for me it has been a blessing – I can still get my work done, but I can also, for example, go to New York Fashion Week. We’re encouraged to pursue freelance opportunities outside of school, for whatever publications will use us.
What are your plans for the future?
Relocation. I love London, but I’m pretty sure I need to live somewhere hyper-foreign compared to the standards and conventions that I’m used too. I also love the idea of living somewhere off the traditional fashion circuit for a while (no Paris, no London, no New York, no Milan). I’m looking at possibly the Emirates, Doha (Qatar) or Mumbai (India). We’ll see. In time I’ll probably end up back in New York, ideally with enough in my bank account to support also having a flat in London. But fashion journalism does not the hedge fund salary equal.
Tell us about HOMECOMING MAG. Who made it and why? What ideas stand behind it?
HOMECOMING MAG is a fully independent and self-generated online journal (exactly half way between a blog and a magazine), covering fashion (predominantly menswear), digital culture, music, cities and lifestyle(s) – all with a youthful edge – across The Americas, Europe and The Middle East. Sounds a little heady, but once you familiarize yourself with the site it becomes more sensical. I guess ultimately it’s a reflection of what I love and how I live – which sounds a little narcissistic, but I think personality is important in keeping it familiar and digitally on-point.
Screenshot of HOMECOMING MAG Landing Page
We’ve got everything from full designer profiles, to news – most recently about the Royal Family of Qatar’s supposed acquisition of Valentino, to reviews, to op-eds, to self-shot and styled photo-shoots, to stories about subtle taboo breakages in post-Rev Egypt. There’s a lot, and I try to post daily. Right now I probably write 85% of the content, though I’m hoping to build up a roster of regular contributors (there’s an amazing writer from Cairo at the moment, plus a blogger in New York, plus a few fellow CSM’ers).
The idea started over September 2011, in BASE – a gay-friendly lifestyle boutique on Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road. BASE has a wall of amazing media and indie mags and hard-to-find EP’s and so on and so forth. I wanted my magazine to be on that wall. But, print turned out to be extraordinarily too expensive – and more importantly, it seemed irrelevant for what I was looking to publish and to convey. So from then until May 1st, I laid out how I envisioned the site (mocked up on Photoshop), posted an add on Craigslist for a web-builder, and started working on content. I found this guy in Putney who did an amazing job, and the site has now been up and running for just over 2 months.
HOMECOMING MAG’S design and subsequent visual content is meant to be a psuedo-return to super-low-fi graphic and web design – it’s not even meant to be necessarily fluid or easy to navigate. Backgrounds and feature images are intended to be blurry, or screen-shots, or YouTube video grabs. The inspiration here comes from Takashi Murakami’s take on culture – the “2D-ification” of life as we know it. Everything is flat. Thus, I wanted to make an already 2D medium look even more stripped and basic. Of course there are little flourishes – like the use of Didot font (Harper’s Bazaar’s typeface), and some hi-res imagery, but for the most part I keep it simple.
Model Jack Marcy, photographed in King’s Cross, wearing Craig Green (Central Saint Martins ’12) for a story called “Past Time”
Model Luke Worrall, photographed in Piccadilly Circus, for a story called “Laidback Luke”
From a story called “Palm Beach Prada.”
I’d like to think the writing on the site is relatively unique. Traditional, “See-Spot-Run” journalism is banned. Opinions have to be expressed, humor allocated, artistry implemented as needed. The writing is where the real creativity is meant to come out, the three dimensionality, as opposed to the sites visual impact. And it’s entirely open – if someone comes to me and says, I want to do a riff on Blumarine because it’s so fucking amazingly tacky, there’s no way I’d ever, ever say no.
Case in point: HOMECOMING is new, or, new for now, and we’ve had a really amazing response thus far. Thanks, internet.
Are there any projects or new elements re: HOMECOMING up and coming?
Possibly the introduction of a product or product line – think a “HOMECOMING MAG x ____” type of deal. I have a friend who runs an amazing accessories studio out of Guayaquil, Ecuador – we might try to make some exclusive bags or hats. Also – once we reach the amount of hits needed to sell advertising, I want to develop a model for ad sales on the site. But as most everyone knows, utilizing advertising effectively yet “in a cool way” is pretty difficult online. There are, however, are a lot of ideas and solutions under consideration…