Ithaca College sophomores Sara Belcher and Courtney Yule want to fill a niche they feel is missing on campus: fashion magazine journalism. Together, the two have created Distinct, an online magazine that focuses on style, culture and current issues on campus.
Along with a team of writers, the two published the first issue of Distinct early in October. To Belcher and Yule, the publication is more than just a fashion magazine — Distinct also focuses on breaking down stereotypes in the fashion industry by being gender–fluid and gender-inclusive.
Opinion Editor Celisa Calacal spoke to Belcher and Yule about the making of the first issue, their goal for Distinct and their views on fashion and style at the college.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Celisa Calacal: What is your vision for this magazine?
Sara Belcher: Our main goal is to provide a safe and open space for people on campus to talk about their style, their culture. We also want to break gender and social-class stereotypes that are surrounded in the fashion world, like you can’t be fashionable unless you’re rich or you need to be a certain gender to wear certain clothes. We don’t believe in that.
Courtney Yule: And that you have to be wearing a high-end fashion label in order to have nice, structured clothing that looks like professional, runway or even street style.
SB: We’re open to all kinds of styles. We really just want to reflect what the students here on campus are into, if that makes sense. So we’ve had people come to us and say this is a thing that’s cool from back home and that I’m super into, and we’re like, “Absolutely. Please talk about it.”
CC: Now that you’ve had your first issue come out, how did that process work out?
SB: It was mostly figuring things out. So we ended up doing a lot of lookbooks. … We had one person who showed their personal style. We had like a fall trends lookbook. And then we also did more Halloween-themed stuff, so someone did a couple makeup tutorials that you could do for Halloween. And then in the nonfashion and beauty sections, we also had how to shop on a budget, shop healthy foods on a budget. We also talked about the struggle with size in the fashion industry, like if you are a plus-sized woman, how it’s harder for you to find clothing that’s not more money and still decent quality. So we’re trying to broaden our spectrum of articles we talk about — so we’re not just fashion, beauty — we also want to talk about relevant issues in the world.
CC: How do you guys see Distinct distinct from other publications on campus?
SB: We try to make ours a little more informal. That’s one of the things that we’ve noticed. In a lot of the publications on campus, to be more professional, which I completely understand … they deter from using second person and first person in their articles. And our first edition, we feel, has a lot of first-person articles. And we’re not opposed to first person — we’re trying to have less of it, but we’re still open to doing first-person articles where people really personalize what they’re writing. And then we also do second person, where we get like the writer a chance to interact with the audience more by relating back to them. So we feel it’s the more personal side that we feel sets ours apart from a lot of the other publications.
CC: What kind of fashion do you see on this campus?
CY: I love walking around and finding that one person that really goes all–out. I love finding those people. I love people who combine like a trenchcoat with sportswear or people who, they combine and mix and match different kinds of pieces of clothing that necessarily you wouldn’t think go together, but in a practical sense do since you are on a college campus. For example, the trenchcoat with leggings: It’s because they’re probably going to go to the gym afterwards; they probably don’t want to go back to their dorm room. Or even people who wear more formal things because they’re doing something late at night, or they’re going out — I find that to be really interesting.
SB: Yeah I like that there’s no certain way that students here feel that they need to dress. I’ve even had some of our content contributors come up to us and say, “I’ve seen like these people whose styles I really admire, and I think we could do something with them or feature them in some way because their style is very distinct from other people’s.” And I like that we have that nice mixture on campus to where it’s not all the same thing that you see all of the time.
CC: What do you hope to change or improve on going forward?
SB: We’d love for more people to look at us as more than just a fashion magazine. So if they’re not into fashion and beauty, they can still come and write for us because we want people to talk about current issues that are going on on campus, like the contingent faculty members. Like if someone wanted to talk about that and that whole issue that’s going on with that, that would be great. We just want to showcase that we’re more than just fashion and beauty because I think that’s what we came across as first. That’s how we advertised ourselves. And from here on, we want to expand. And we also want to try and make our articles more than just lookbooks and pictures and trends to look at. We want to add more substance as we go.
CY: I think it’s also important to note that we are striving to make this magazine as genderless and fluid as possible. I think a lot of the males that signed up for the magazine ended up dropping it because they were more either geared toward photography or video aspects of it. And I think it’s important to note that we want this magazine to be able to expand across any medium, any person, because everyone here makes up the Ithaca College experience, whether they know it or not.
Courtney Yule is a copy editor for The Ithacan.