Polyester promotes femininity while rejecting the confines of minimalism. Now they're putting out three special zines to mark their third birthday.
Polyester promotes femininity while rejecting the imposition of minimalism. Now they're putting out three special zines to mark their third birthday.
If independence is what you’re looking for, Polyester has it by the tons. Started from Ione Gamble’s bedroom as a university project back in 2014, the zine quickly rose to notoriety in London’s DIY scene as a face of the fourth feminist wave – meshing URL with IRL activism, amping up solidarity and community, rejecting minimalism in favour of hyper-femme maximalism: all glitter, ruffs and plenty of colour.
The core manifesto of Polyester is pretty straightforward. It encourages readers to “have faith in your own bad taste” – words first uttered by the king of bad taste and Pope of Trash himself, John Waters. But why?
“Because notions of taste are still explicitly tied up in not only class politics but hierarchal notions of what should be taken seriously and what should not,” Ione explains.
“Explicitly ‘feminine’ things have been undermined throughout history and traditionally not taken seriously – it’s important to embrace these things and disregard notions of what we should or shouldn’t be.”
And for the past three years, that’s exactly what Polyester has been doing. Working with contributors who are strictly “women, femmeS and/or the LGBTQA+ community”, they cover topics ranging from FGM and street harassment to getting paid as a young artist.
Steering clear of tokenism, and strongly respecting all the voices featured in their physical and digital pages, Polyester is proof that print can thrive and stand in the digital world.
“In general I was unimpressed with the scope of diversity across the media and disappointed in the coverage of fourth wave feminism and social issues,” says Ione, editor-in-chief.
“I grew up really admiring artists that managed to weave social politics into their work – especially if they did so in an unashamedly femme way – and didn’t understand why these people weren’t being featured in print publications. I wanted to provide a platform that treated this artists and issues with respect while also looking really beautiful and engaging.”
Remaining entirely independent throughout their six published issues, Polyester has collaborated with young artists all over the world and featured the words and works of people like Edward Meadham, Pussy Riot, The Slits’ Viv Albertine and Tavi Gevison.
This Friday, Polyester commemorates their three-year anniversary. The celebration will consist of an all-immersive birthday-themed exhibition at Protein Studios, accompanied by a triptych of all-new zines featuring many of Polyester’s regular contributors, as well as some brand new faces.
Divided by medium, two of the zines also centre around the theme of “birthdays”, exploring it through writing and illustration. The photography issue looks at a variety of tropes of femininity that have been demonised throughout history – each explored by a different photographer.
Here are Ione’s three pieces of advice from three years of self-publishing:
1) “Never do anything for the zine that my heart and head isn’t completely agreed on. A few times in the past I’ve felt pressured into doing things for Polyester or publishing something I knew wasn’t right. Now I know you should never compromise – especially as a self-publisher – and hopefully have a bit more confidence to know when to say no.
2) “I’ve learned to take my time doing things and to try not to get stressed out by my own deadlines and do things naturally. We run on our own timeline as a zine, but obviously, it’s really easy to feel pressured to be producing new things constantly. I think it’s better to wait until your 100 percent sure what you’re doing is perfect than rushing something out for the sake of seeming productive.
3) “Working with other people is hard but (usually) always worth it. Polyester is very much about community and representing something bigger than one singular person’s voices or ideas, so it’s fundamental that I collaborate with other people to ensure the publication is as inclusive as possible.”
You can pre-order the three zines on Polyester‘s website. The exhibition Polyester Presents: Another Year, Another Existential Crisis will be on from 13-16 October at Protein Studios.