Let's talk about zines. They're having a moment (primarily a fashion moment), and truth be told, they've been in the spotlight for a while. Oozing creativity, artistic flair and most importantly, imagination, the zines of today exist for a myriad of reasons, whether that's about celebrating love and unity, reminiscing on life pre-Covid or promoting a designer's latest collection. What unites zine-makers all over the world today is no secret; their love of the hand-made and the intimacy of print remains unmatched - something designer Francesco Ragazzi knows a thing or two about. Ragazzi is the creative force behind the LA skate-inspired brand Palm Angels and happens to be one of the many designers (amongst Bianca Saunders, Matty Bovan, Martine Rose and Kenzo to name a few) that have adopted the unique book format as an alternative way to present their collections and designs. Choosing to encapsulate his S/S 21 collection in the form of a book published by Rizzoli, Ragazzi selected several established creatives (photographers David Sims and Rosie Marks included) to help him envision a zine imprinted in escapism and fantasy - themes that feel unusually pertinent when considering the Covid-stricken world of today. Palm Angels deciding to create a zine to showcase their S/S 21 collection is a move that certifies the brand's vision and affiliations with skate culture and photography in more ways than one. Zines are a big part of the skate and photography scenes and an even bigger part of skate brands in general, a community where the DIY aesthetic thrives amongst skaters and their zines in one way or another. Considering this, Ragazzi's Palm Angels was born from a photography book, so the decision to create a zine for the brand's S/S 21 collection seemed like a natural transition and one that speaks directly to many of its followers.
The very notion of escapism runs through the zine in its entirety, evident in every piece of clothing that features in the collection as much as every piece of artwork that makes up the book. Photographed by David Sims and styled by Karl Templer, the collection itself celebrates the spirit of the Caribbean island Jamaica in all its glory; a place far away from the Palm Angels offices in Milan and somewhere Ragazzi couldn't take his mind off throughout the making of the collection. Designing with a vibrant colour palette in mind, the collection features soft tailoring and a play on military codes - remixing camouflage with leopard prints while also paying homage to the island of Jamaica by marking numerous pieces with the traditional flag. Aiming to craft a dream-like world that's far away from the one we all live in now, the book, through its contributions and illustrations, presents the perfect fantasy that allows for thoughts of escapism to manifest.
When the modern computer invention arrived, zines slowly but surely fell to the way-side, being deemed too 'finicky' and disordered compared to the sleekness of their InDesign counterparts. Due to the increase in technology (and the considerable decrease in typewriters and Letrasets) somewhere down the line, people's love of print declined as computers slowly but surely nestled their way in, becoming part of modern life... until now. At some point in the 2010s, zines became cool again - there are too many reasons why to state here - but trust us when we say they're on the rise. Their popularity has been at an all-time high since the pandemic began and we believe their dream-like quality is one of the reasons why. Many designers have joined Ragazzi in trading the traditional catwalk concept for a zine or book approach, something we think isn't going to go away any time soon. A tactile object that serves as a reminder of what has been lost with the pandemic. Zines give us hope for the future, as Ragazzi's one teaches us that no matter what, we must always dream.
Christina Donoghue interviewed Ragazzi on why he felt compelled to present the Palm Angels S/S 21 collection in the paper-bound format.
Christina Donoghue: Quite a few fashion designers, like yourself, and stylists have made zines recently. Why do you think the fashion industry is attracted to them? Do you think they're having a moment? Why?
Francesco Ragazzi: I believe books capture the precise moment of where you are. Human's need something that exists for more than 15seconds.
CD: Do you think the very idea of zines themselves reflect the times we're living in?
FR: Not really, as our lives are bombarded with information and various contents as a whole, mainly in a digital format. I think the idea of books and zines or anything that's of a tangible nature, brings us back to reality and away from our screens.
CD: What made you want to create a zine for this collection?
FR: Palm Angels was born from a photography book, so it was kind of natural to go back to the very beginning of its origins.
CD: Did you always know you wanted to present the collection as a zine or was that worked out along the design process? Tell me a bit about the overall process of this collection.
FR: This collection was conceived during a lockdown, therefore, the hardest part was to coordinate all the processes and realising that. The final outcome was an incredible result of team work. The idea of creating a book came after I reflected on the moment we all find ourselves in. I thought of a book as, in a moment where everyone is virtually connected and consumed by the screens of their smartphones, a way of showing my vision through a more tangible medium. The book represents a collection of images and overall inputs, resulting in a mood-board that honours the spirit of the collection. It’s a kind of milestone, it’s Palm Angels at this precise moment.
CD: Why did you choose to collaborate with the people you did to create this zine? What is it about their work that speaks to you as a creative?
FR: To create energy and a different point of view. I purposely chose to work with artists from different backgrounds and creative styles; from David Sims, to Lea Colombo's dreamy vibes, Rosie Marks' analogue shots, to Enzo Ragazzini, an 86 year old artist full of life and experience. I gave absolute freedom of interpretation regarding the mood and collection to all of them. This resulted in a sort of Instagram feed look, something familiar, but meant to last.
CD: Why did you choose to channel the spirit of Jamaica for your S/S 21 collection?
FR: It’s part of the creation process I had for this collection made during a lockdown that's basically done from a couch. I had to imagine somewhere I wanted to be in that precise moment. It’s was an exercise, an escapism. Jamaica in my mind represented in a dream.