All it took was a quick flick through the first issue of Cause & Effect to hook me like Walter von Beirendonck’s pearl earring plastered on the back cover (one of several cover choices). I got a glimpse of a visceral world of fashion and art taking over the streets of London I have not seen represented in print until now: drawings and photographs of larger girls, pangender performance artists and trans models in lacy underwear.
Zine-like in content, this is a hardback book, and the endpapers are littered with hand drawn slogans: ‘better to crush the patriarchy with, my dear’, ‘solidarity is a political decision’ and ‘#fuck chevron’ (above). Inside, I recognised people from East London nightclubs, Instagram and parties; and the conversations, faces, and work I have been immersed in as and student in this cosmopolitan city, at such a disjointed and bizarre time.
Editor-in-chief Amnah Hafez notes that Cause & Effect marries fashion and politics. ‘We want to talk about a love of fashion that doesn’t require moral and intellectual compromise. We want to discuss mental health, race, body type, gender, sex, sexuality in a candid way, in a beautiful way, in an accessible way.’
Opening section ‘I am the Cause I am the Effect’, has artists explaining where their inspiration and responsibilities lie. It sets the tone for the issue as we hear about imperialist oppression, sexist inequalities, racism, gentrification, and ableism. Made in Hackney, it reflects the mental state of fashion students and graduates swimming through treacle to gain recognition and pay rent amidst political uncertainty and inequality. It is an authentic look at the creative people who come to London from all over the world and make it what it is.
A fashion story called ‘What was once’ takes charity shop clothes and presents it as fashion editorial (above). The models face the camera dead on, their styling, makeup and direction demands respect. They are real people of the queer nightlife scene who toy with the rules of gender and sexuality in an effort to resist the status-quo. It is created by, for and about an ‘edgy’ community, which tends to be misrepresented or generalised as superficial. ‘What’s in your bag?’ pastiches a typical magazine format (below), each item annotated with its associated, negative, connotations.
The 124 pages are ambitious but uncertain at times – the only certainty is the inconsistency, unapologetically so. This is matched by the design, which, inspired by zines, rejects established ideas of editorial design in favour of random fonts, rough collages and inconsistent scaling. Earthy oranges and greys dominate.
As a student, I find Cause & Effect’s imperfect but accurate depiction of fashion’s underpaid underbelly sings to me like no other magazine. I’m excited to see how they build upon this first issue.