Behind-the-scenes: What it takes to bring a fashion magazine to life
Fashion. Culture. Style. These are subjects two new magazines are covering in town.
The first is PaperCity, a fashion publication that began as a newspaper in Dallas in 1998, but has since reinvented itself as a magazine. PaperCity’s first glossy edition was on stands in the Dallas area earlier this year.
Southern Methodist University is debuting a fashion magazine of their own as well. SMU LOOK will hit stands on Nov. 17.
Both publications took a lot of time and effort to create. They share many similarities, including lots of glossy photos and a common goal: to entice readers and continue to grow.
Christina Geyer, PaperCity’s editor-in-chief, hopes for continued success in the publication’s new look.
“I can only hope we continue to build on the success of the new format in both the creative and business sides of the company,” Geyer said in an email interview.
SMU senior and SMU LOOK’s editor-in-chief India Pougher also anticipates the growth of the university’s very first fashion magazine.
“I hope our readers are every girl on this campus,” Pougher said. “I definitely want it to continue long after I’m gone.”
Here’s how the two publications are bringing their products to print.
PaperCity’s transition from broad-sheet to perfect bound was in the works for a while and was something the publication had wanted for years, according to Geyer. The conversation started to get serious when she took the role as editor-in-chief this fall.
“We debuted the new format with our September 2016 issue,” Geyer said.
Alison Volk, president and publicist of Volk Public Relations in Dallas, is a loyal PaperCity reader. Her mother even used to send her copies of the publication when she lived in Los Angeles from 2000 to 2010. Needless to say, she was very excited about the publication’s transition.
“I love it and am so happy about it,” Volk said. “I was not a fan of the previous format at all as it easily fell apart as I would read it.”
A lot of work went into making this transition possible.
Much thought is put into the stories that are featured each month. Every issue has a focus depending on the season it is or what’s relevant this month. For instance, September and March issues always feature fashion because they are the biggest months in the fashion world.
“We always look at what’s current and happening in the world around us to make sure the content in each issue is relevant,” Geyer said.
Geyer compares putting a magazine together to planning the perfect dinner party.
“You have to make sure it’s a good mix,” Geyer said.
Unlike dinner parties though, stories and covers for PaperCity are planned months in advance.
Exact steps are taken to ensure that the production of the magazine goes smoothly each month. Research begins on the editorial side: knowing what’s going on each month. Once the content is decided, assignments are made to writers and visuals are gathered.
Although there are different departments within the magazine, everyone in the office wears different hats according to Linden Wilson, PaperCity’s assistant editor.
Wilson works closely with sources and photographers to ensure that features for each issue are up to par. She says the best part of her job is getting to meet the people she writes about.
“The most memorable during my time here have been Louise Eiseman, Terry Loftis, Abby Williamson, Ivanka Trump, Greg Lauren and Gwyneth Paltrow,” Wilson said in an email interview.
Geyer is responsible for each story that runs in the publication.
“I edit all stories that run in each month before they are sent to our copy director, who edits them for style and factual accuracy,” Geyer said.
Fall fashion essentials, inside the stunning home of Mexico’s most interesting couple and a Shake Shack feature, are just a few of the types of stories that PaperCity covers.
There is an entirely different department dedicated to the art side of the publication, according to Geyer.
The art department is responsible for creating the actual magazine pages from the copy and art. Once this is done, it goes through the ‘proofing process.’ This process includes meticulously going through pages, making sure they are ready for print.
“We print each layout and read with a red pen, spotting errors, making design tweaks and finessing each story,” Geyer said. “Once every single page has been approved, the issue is sent to the printer.”
The magazine also has to take sales into account; publications cannot run without advertisements.
“Our publisher and sales team work diligently each month to make sure the issue is robust with advertisements,” Geyer said.
Geyer believes PaperCity has a strong presence in the Dallas area as well as Texas.
“We are the standard for luxury magazines in Texas,” Geyer said.
Camille Kraeplin, journalism professor at SMU, took on the project of bringing SMU LOOK to life.
Kraeplin brought fashion media experts from the Dallas area to campus last summer, including Christina Geyer, in order to get the ball rolling.
“I brought in five people who know a lot about fashion media,” Kraeplin said. “The Redmans — Dallas based photographers to talk about photography, Christina Geyer— to talk about editorial, Tracy Hayes — who was the editor of the DMN fashion section, among more.”
Kraeplin had full confidence that these fashion experts would pass on beneficial knowledge to the students in her fall 2016 fashion journalism class.
“These people are like a brain trust for fashion media,” Kraeplin said. “The knowledge that all those guys imparted was just phenomenal.”
Following the meeting with fashion experts, Kraeplin and her students began working on the magazine to define its vision.
“We needed to think about what kind of magazine we wanted to be,” Kraeplin said. “We also decided who was going to do what.”
Kraeplin divided students into different groups with assigned tasks, much like Geyer has separate teams at PaperCity. Students were assigned roles in the creative, editorial and advertising departments within the magazine.
Students also wear different hats based on their department assignment.
Addison Anthony, managing editor of SMU LOOK, has completed a lot of work on the creative side of the magazine even though her direct responsibilities include editing stories.
“I think people would be surprised that I spend a lot of my time working with the creative team and that I have any hand at all in design decisions,” Anthony said in an email interview.
A lot of planning went into the type of content that SMU LOOK was going to have.
“We had a news meeting and tried to figure which stories everyone wanted to do and then assigned them based on the roles everyone was playing,” Anthony said.
Featured stories in SMU LOOK will include the categories in both beauty and fashion.
Aside from writing the stories, there is also the production side of creating the covers and photos that readers see. Those working on the creative side of the magazine are in charged with this workload.
The creative team has to go out and find a make-up artist, photographer, venue, hairstylist and models, according to Kraeplin.
“The metamorphosis of the book from an inspiration to the real deal is the most rewarding,” Addison said. “All the blood, sweat and tears along the way has been invigorating to witness.”
You can find PaperCity on stands around the Dallas area and also read their content online. SMU LOOK will be on stands around the university Nov. 17. In the meantime, you can take a look at what they’re up to behind-the-scenes on Instagram.