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Now and then a glossy comes along and surprises, titillates and inspires. Right now that magazine is Pop, and editor-in-chief, Katie Grand, is pulling the reins. And considering Grand’s cult-following on industry devotees, it’s no surprise that Pop has been dubbed Britain’s style bible.
Here in the U.K. and in the most knowing fashion circles, Grand is a fixture amongst fashion’s elite. Although for many self-proclaimed fashionites (fuck the word fashionista) the name wouldn’t so much as raise an eyebrow. That is until you read her CV. Along with being a well-respected editor, Grand is also an advertising consultant and has worked for leading fashion brands including Prada, Louis Vuitton, Giles Deacon, and Fendi. She also styles fashion shows for other brands of the same caliber, contributes to major fashion magazines and is an editor at Harper’s Bazaar. What young fashion groupie wouldn’t want to be her minion?
Although, Grand’s love affair with the industry began at a young age. As a student at Central St. Martins she dabbled in multiple fields, and was subsequently dissatisfied with everything. It was also during this time that she and fellow students Jefferson Hack and Rankin Waddell, became acquainted and the idea for cult magazine Dazed & Confused was born.
“We were all students and just like ‘let’s just be the next I.D. [magazine]. Hooray!’” she said during an early morning phone conversation. Grand, who actually came aboard during the second issue of Dazed , was involved in everything from manually assembling the magazine to choosing the photographers and concepts for photo shoots.
“We were limited by our lack of knowledge. I’m happy that is was so random and so innocent. Back then we had to focus on things, like… can we get enough Katharine Hamnett T-shirts?” Her career in magazines technically began as years of trial and error: a relationship with Rankin (a bad decision, she admits), and loads of side jobs. However, the creative freedom at that time was worth it. The experience she gained proved to be priceless in the long run not to mention the staff was favorably small then.
“I didn’t get paid for like seven years. When you have one sponsor, money is quite limited. Rankin at the time had begun getting more commercial work [as a photographer] and I had been fortunate enough to start doing jobs through him. I was also working for Kylie Minogue at the time,” she said.
After working sometime at Dazed, it was time for a change. By now it was clear that Grand had a talent in not just the magazine industry, but she had an eye and a hustle mentality that was right for the world of fashion. She was offered a position at the now deceased magazine The Face, where her first cover debuted in August of 1999.
“I started working at The Face and right off they promised me my own magazine. I didn’t even know that The Face was on its way out.”
On it’s way out indeed. This was also during the period mega-publisher Emap purchased the magazine. According to Grand, people just didn’t think it was cool after this happened. After short period, Grand was moved to her own publication, a high fashion glossy with no set mission, no concept — a blank canvas. This magazine soon became Pop and believe it or not the ‘zine has only just begun to hit its stride.
“I got to grips with it after issue four. We’ve really changed in the last three issues. Before we’d do something like put a feature in the beginning, or do an issue from front to back. Then we realized there was no point in being so cool. There’s nothing wrong with a magazine being easy to read,” Grand exclaimed.
Although the biggest adjustment for Britain’s new it-girl was her new budget of £10,000 for shoots. This budget was far from the indie budget she’d grown used to with Dazed and even Face.
“It took a while for me to get adjusted to that,” she said. She also had to now be apart of a more mainstream social scene. “My new [bosses] told me that I was going to go to every party, every show and have a good time and get drunk.” Although Pop has been around for several issues, it’s still changing. The focus is still being molded and the structure is still being fussed with. It was after issue four that Grand really began to know what Pop was all about.
She jokingly admits that over its brief tenure Pop has had some bombs. Take the covers for example. A past cover featured Victoria Beckham and sales plummeted. “At the time it seemed like a good thing to do, the same with David Beckham when we shot him for The Face. He was at the height of his popularity but then we got the figures and it wasn’t that great. I’m still trying to figure out the perfect cover. I just can’t quite figure it out, there’s a kind of person that should be on the cover.”
The future is limitless as she discusses potential cover stars, with Scarlett Johansen and Angelina Jolie included among the hopefuls. “Why not?” she said.
For now, it seems the editrix has found a home of her very own, as Pop begins to broaden its reach as it continues to garner popularity worldwide. Cover mishaps aside, its readership has only increased thanks to successful cover models Kate Moss and Courtney Love. But through the ups, downs and in betweens Grand is quite content and with where her success has led her. She’s also content with how the magazine industry has been changing. And considering the how much the industry is often crucified for it’s tabloid-like aspirations, this is surprising. She also had advice for anyone looking to start his or her own glossy.
“Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. Launch it for you and your friends,” she said. “Now there are a lot of like fan ‘zines out and I think that’s great. So many people used to be afraid to launch.” When asked about her favorite magazines, it’s no surprise that they’re all extinct: The Face, Smash Hits, Blitz, Sky, Nova, and Zoom. “All of these magazines had a spirit about them that represented their time. As a matter of fact I have a Smash on my desk with George Michael [from the eighties] on my desk,” she laughed. With the way things are going at Pop, the magazine shouldn’t be making this list any time soon.
Originally published online for London's cult-zine The SuperSuper in March 2008.