A visionary when it comes to presentation and aesthetic narrative, Mac Folkes has had a profound influence on the fashion industry as an art director, event designer and international model consultant and coach. After returning to art school to pursue a degree in Visual Presentation and Exhibit Design, Folkes discovered a language to express his diverse experiences and unique visual eye for clients such as Elite and NY Models as well as Tiwimuta. He has now dedicated his unconventional approach to fashion and art to the launch of “artifact” publication The Slant. For the most recent installment in our Fashion Rethinkers series, we chatted with Folkes about the necessary distinction between print and digital, his concerns for the fashion industry and what he thinks will help improve it.
JC Report: What’s the idea behind your unique, tactile presentation format?
Mac Folkes: Our vow was to create an object that people wanted to have and to hold and to retain for the future. In short, we wanted to create a lasting artifact—something shaped by human craft and produced with skill.
MF: Our intention is to challenge the notion of what a printed periodical can be.
JCR: The digital media has questioned the validity of print publications. Are you competing or joining the movement?
MF: Neither, I think pitting digital against print as a winner-takes-all fight to the death creates a fallacy of false choice. In the end, video didn’t kill the radio star after all.
JCR: Is this the future of magazines?
MF: I think it’s the future for publications that wish to invoke and inspire, not solely to be a conduit to further a consumerist agenda.
JCR: What’s the revenue model?
MF: There is no advertising so it will live or die based on the merit of the work and its ability to connect with people.
JCR: What was the publishing/fashion environment like at the beginning of your career?
MF: There has been a collective shift. Where [it was] once helmed by creatives and visionaries, marketers and merchants now steer the ship, setting us all adrift.
MF: There’s far too much of everything—too many brands, too many seasons, too much fast fashion. I strongly endorse the creed: “We don’t need more things, we need better things.”
JCR: Are there aspects of the fashion system today that need to change?
MF: Fashion is overexposed; it’s lost all its highlights and details.
JCR: In your estimation, what will be the benefit of this change?
MF: A little more art and a little less commerce would greatly benefit us all.
JCR: Where does your iconoclastic approach stem from?
MF: My Jamaican immigrant upbringing was informed by two fellow countrymen and heroes Grace Jones and Bob Marley. Grace personifies artistry and Bob spits truth. Bob sang “Stir It Up” and I succumbed to the siren call.