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Save the World from Shitty Fast Fashion by Supporting 'Sumzine'

Sumzine is about buying less and buying better in a world consumed by fast fashion. We called up publisher Jamie Ortega to talk about the importance of buying sustainable gear and the zine's Kickstarter campaign.
July 7, 2014, 2:26pm

Last February, stylist and producer Jamie Ortega published the inaugural issue of Sumzine. It's named after the concept that everything we buy should add up and revolve around sustainability and slow fashion. Growing up with a conscientious lifestyle in California, Ortega hopes the zine will foster a discussion about buying less and buying better in a world consumed by fast fashion. The biannual zine can be found in print at boutiques like Opening Ceremony and the Voyager Shop.

The first issue of the zine was a passion project that was completely self-funded. But this time around, Ortega has launched a Kickstarter campaign in order to raise $15,000 by July 13 for the second issue, due to drop in September. The new issue, which has a uniform theme, features interviews with Brianna Lance (The Reformation) and Marina Polo and Brit Cosgrove (Svilu). It also boasts photography by Bob Jeusette, Sam Crawford, and Shanita Sims.

We called up Jamie to talk about how the new issue, the importance of buying sustainable fashion, and why caring about how your clothes are produced is cool.

VICE: How did Sumzine start?
Last year, I had the idea of doing it as a blog just to show people how to buy less and buy better. I wanted to introduce this hodgepodge idea of sustainability, whether it is buying an ethically sourced designs or organic fabrics or something up-cycled. Then I thought it wasn’t really a concept that could compete in the blog-arena, because blogs are all about endorsements. After I left my job at Saks, I did a lot of freelance and I met the right people. The synergy of everyone made me think that it could work in a print format.

How did you get interested in sustainable fashion?
Being from California, recycling, and doing things mindfully is my second nature. My first shopping trips were not at the mall, they were at Savers. So I have always been in that mindset of being resourceful. Seeing that I did fashion for so long, I saw so much waste, especially in luxury fashion. It is just an extension of my lifestyle. I saw what happened with the slow food movement, but there wasn’t that excitement with slow fashion.

What was the reception of the first issue?
The first issue I wanted people to see the concept behind the zine. Whether you’re middle class or you’re not, we have seen the hysteria behind fashion evolve so rapidly, especially in downtown New York. We have seen all the boutiques replaced by H&M and Forever 21 in SoHo. It is this fast fashion palace instead of the chic shopping destination that it was before and that is because people can’t afford to buy at a high price point anymore. [This zine] is speaking to the moment that needs to happen. Everyone feels the same way, but until you synergize it into one voice and make it tangible, people forget it's something we should be doing.

Is this issue different? What are you excited about?
This issue is different because it has a theme, which is the uniform. Also, I am collaborating with some really cool artists. The first issue I had such a short timeline, because I wanted to publish it for Fashion Week. I had a three-month timeline to get all of the content in, so I didn’t have a lot of time to collaborate with others. A lot of the content I produced myself. So this time, we have a creative energy, a theme, and a really cool cover star, Charlotte Carey.

Are the pieces you style with only vintage or sustainably made?
It’s a mix, because it is not realistic to say you can never buy a new piece of clothing. I think it is more about the relationship you have with clothing. It is more about getting out of the mentality of going out and buying an outfit just for one night.

Why is it important to support Sumzine?
We are trying something new, and the Kickstarter is for people who want to join a team and come along the ride with us. It is not just about creating cool imagery. It is about challenging how we think about fashion. The editorials have nothing to do with trends or specific designers. We don’t have an agenda other than reminding people to buy less and buy better.

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