Despite a push for wider recognition of non-conventional beauty in the fashion industry, age is still a largely unexplored subject. With the industry's obsession with youth ever enduring, through a combination of marketing and representation the thought of growing old is sold back to the consumer, using fear tactics to ensure we keep purchasing that overpriced and overhyped wrinkle cream. But, After becoming disenfranchised with commercial editorial and the endless scroll of “listicles preying on reader's insecurities,” stylist Mitch McGuire decided to tackle some of the fashion industry's biggest issues – including age representation – head on.
Founding online platform ‘Refigural’ last year as a way to, “engage in a visual and textual discourse on fashion, beauty, and advertising”, the magazine presents fashion editorial in unconventional contexts, exploring the untapped possibilities of visuals such as pop-up ads, sitcom credit sequences and department store sales in popular culture. Content is often interactive, with their online only approach ensuring the publication remains interactive and inclusive.
With each issue informed by an agenda with three core messages: “beauty culture is harmful and mostly ridiculous”, “fashion systems can oppress or inspire, usually it's both”, and “there's a lot of ways to age gracefully”, the publications message is about politics as much as it is aesthetics. However, McGuire is quick to stress the importance of acknowledging the transformative qualities of makeup and the importance of alternative media in changing perceptions:
“I'm not trying to indict makeup because I think it can be incredible, transformative, and fun, but it's clear that the beauty industry makes a lot of money on making people feel inadequate. With a healthy amount of exceptions, plenty of platforms are complicit in this,” he says. “It’s important to me that ‘Refigural’ work against this in the tone of our content and especially in the casting; I’d always rather run a beauty story or editorial featuring a regular person or someone's mum than a hot pretty fashion model.”
For their first birthday Refigural are launching an edition of tissue paper prints featuring imagery from their fifth issue. More information can be found on their website.