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Doechii x PolyesterPhotographer Savanna Ruedy

Polyester’s new spring print issue is an ode to gritty girls

The zine’s new spring issue, made in collaboration with Coach, spotlights musical trailblazers Cat Burns, Doechii and Piri

For the better part of a decade, Polyester has been celebrating the kitsch, inclusive and intersectional feminist narratives of both the URL and IRL. Their new spring print issue, which has been made in collaboration with Coach, builds on this legacy, while challenging readers to embrace “the good, the bad, and the messy” parts of our lives. 

Authenticity is becoming increasingly appealing for young people, who are switching out their heavily curated Insta feeds for dirty mirror selfies and late-night BeReals. However, out of the ashes of the meticulously Facetuned influencer girlies has emerged a culture of “irony” and “indifference”, according to Polyester founder Ione Gamble, who says this growing obsession with authenticity is creating a new, equally as restrictive status quo. This shift to the imperfectly perfect, with its subtle beauty filters and nihilistic attitudes, has created an aesthetic equally as curated as its clean girl predecessor, only much more deceptive.

The latest print issue is calling out these contradictions, creating a new definition of authenticity by celebrating genuinely messy, “gritty girls” in all their forms – whether it’s a quick post-breakdown selfie, or a high-production fashion shoot. Covering the issue are Cat Burns, Doechii and Piri, certified gritty icons who are blazing their own trail within the music industry. Here, Polyester’s founder Ione Gamble tells us more. 

You say that you are tired of “clean culture” – what do you mean by that, and how is this issue a rebuttal to that?

Ione Gamble: At the moment we’re definitely seeing a rejection of clean culture across the board – influencers are dying, nobody has time for a 20-step skincare routine, and as a society we’ve unanimously decided we hate seeing curated feeds on social media. But I feel like what has come next – nihilism, irony, indifference – also isn’t that joyful. Rejecting the status quo is all well and good, but it feels like we’ve swapped one set of impossible standards for another. I wanted this issue to prove that being authentic isn’t only being messy, uncurated, or not caring about things; that there’s a line between earnestness and irony that means we can throw away cringy self-help infographics without making everything ugly and overly serious. 

Your cover stars are Piri, Cat Burns, and Doechii. Why did you choose these talents, and what connects them to Polyester?

Ione Gamble: I think there’s so much snobbery around artists that get their first break on TikTok, which echoes the same snobbery that Polyester tackled when we first started in relation to Tumblr-era feminist artists. People really don’t like it when artists are ‘discovered’ on the internet, and for some reason find it inherently more cynical than the traditional routes of success. For me, Piri, Cat and Doechii are prime examples of three women that have used the internet to their advantage; to create platforms for themselves and their work. I always try and find hope online, despite there being infinite reasons to feel pessimistic about social media, and these three women definitely made me feel a little brighter about all of our URL futures. 

Why did you want to focus on the music industry for this issue? What discussions did you want to spark, and what were you hoping to draw attention to?

Ione Gamble: I really liked the idea of doing a next-gen issue of Polyester that goes back to our roots and shines a spotlight on soon-to-be household names, who maybe haven’t taken the most well-trodden path to get to where they are. The music industry is an industry that is changing so rapidly and it was really interesting to speak to each of the cover stars about their careers, as well as their lives. Ten years ago you wouldn’t have seen a musician be able to proudly run an OnlyFans alongside their musical output, but Piri is doing just that, and it was incredible to hear her speak so passionately about both careers. Cat is really beautifully making work about her experience as a lesbian, and Doechii was one of the most involved artists we’ve done a cover with in a while. She knew exactly what she wanted from hair and makeup, and created different characters for each look. I like this idea of the issue existing as a bit of a time capsule as to the types of different women operating within the industry at this moment. 

The issue is in celebration of thegritty girls who prioritise authenticity over all else”. What’s your advice to the young people who are still struggling to sit in their authenticity?

Ione Gamble: At some point, you have to accept yourself. Not in a cringe ‘if you can't love yourself how in the hell are you going to love somebody else’ way, but in the sense that if you don’t life is fully exhausting and unenjoyable. The people I love are the ones who aren’t afraid to be messy online or off; who accept embarrassment is a part of life, and who do all the things they want to do anyway. It’s really hard to reject all of the pressures we feel culturally, but also it’s just as impossible to adhere to them. So you may as well do what you want.

The full Spring issue is currently available to read on Polyester’s site, or print copies available to pick up from Coach Regent Street now.

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