“The idea was not to be like a sheep,” says Bay Garnett about Cheap Date, the influential zine she started with her friend Kira Jolliffe in 1997 that soon made them “thrift pioneers”.
When we meet, the stylist and contributing editor at British Vogue is wearing an oversized sweatshirt by Vetements – the Parisian design collective that has become fashion’s latest scene-shaker. There’s something strangely fitting about this. After all, just as Vetements disrupted the industry with its own brand of “unfashionable”, street-style-influenced clothes, Garnett’s arrival in fashion was just as uncompromising and raw.
“We were both really into thrifting and didn’t really look at fashion magazines. I thought it was absurd that people spent so much money on clothes when you could go to a thrift store and get something that no one else had,” says Garnett.
In Cheap Date, thrifting was more than the love of second-hand clothes – it was a weapon to poke fun at fashion and to celebrate irreverence and individual style. In its eight-year run, the magazine featured fake adverts that would spoof famous fashion ads by dressing models in thrift store clothes. Sophie Dahl wrote a regular column, in which she detailed the fictional existence of a Manhattan supermodel. Another contributor was Anita Pallenberg, who interviewed rock legends Marianne Faithfull, Kim Gordon and Debbie Harry, amongst others. “I went on many thrifting missions with Anita…there was always a great story behind the stuff she wore,” says Garnett.
Twenty years on, Garnett and Jolliffe have embarked on another project that breathes the same air as the cult zine. Titled Fanpages, the annual magazine (which launches next month) is a collection of one-page fan tributes by various fashion designers and artists, dedicated to their own heroes. In issue one, Bella Freud writes about her love of school uniforms while Chloë Sevigny talks about vampires. “It’s like a mini mix-tape,” says Garnett. “Magazines nowadays seem to be so formulated and we wanted to do something that we were really, truly into.”
Compared with when she started out in the industry, Garnett admits to some changes in her outlook, which is reflected by the more reverential tone of the new zine. Her role at Vogue has made her appreciate high fashion and craftsmanship more, she says, and she’d never revive Cheap Date as she feels that “doing that sort of cool stuff now would feel forced.” But however she’s evolved, the glint of that restless, fiercely individual thrifter is never far from the surface. “I do love the vintage market at Portobello Road on a Friday morning. It’s still brilliant. The British Red Cross shop in Chelsea is great too. You have to try your luck – they’re all over the place!”
Interview by Jainnie Cho