Fashion Journalism

CRUSHfanzine: Where obsessions become art and fashion

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Human obsessions have been the center of many books, films, and discussions throughout centuries. Now, with CRUSHfanzine, we can also see it in the epicenter of culture, art, and fashion.

A project created by creative director Khary Simon and photographer Nicolas Wagner in 2009, CRUSHfanzine is a fashion and art print magazine that brings human obsessions to life through photos, installations, interviews, and more. 

The publication, which turns 15 this year, works more fluidly, depending on ongoing projects and Khary’s and Nicolas’s inspirations. Like many vehicles migrating to a slower news structure, CRUSH usually comes out one to two times a year to create a more curated edition. 

The FASHINNOVATION team had the chance to get Khary’s personal insights about the project in an exclusive interview. Let’s dive in? 

CRUSHfanzine: How it started

The idea for CRUSHfanzine came from a late-night conversation between friends about what inspired them and what they were obsessed with. At the time, Khary was beginning his career in graphic design, and Nicolas was starting to make his mark as a photographer. 

As the years passed, Khary Simon became a prominent creative director, and Nicolas Wagner grew his name as a photographer. Still, they never stopped CRUSH and actually used their newfound influence to get better names for their publications. 

“We were able to do a lot of covers, you know, with everyone that we were obsessed with from art to architecture, to fashion, to films, to writing, every single thing that we love, we try to build content around it.”

A Community of Obsessed People

The publication grew to be so much more than Khary’s and Nicolas’s personal obsessions, but the obsessions of those they were obsessed with. CRUSHfanzine allows the community to get to know their favorites better from a more personal angle. 

“So let’s say there’s an artist that we really love; we like to also show what they’re obsessed with, something that people are interested in as well. So it’s not just only centered around Nicholas and me; it’s almost like if we love their work, we love everything they’re obsessed with as well.”

The creative process

When discussing obsessions, Khary and Nicolas focus on getting underneath the surface and exploring people’s deepest feelings. When preparing for an interview, they question why that person is relevant and what the spark of their success is. 

“It could be Maria Callas, or it could be an athlete or just someone you just saw on TikTok or whatever,  what are you? why are you obsessed with them? with me or with Nicholas? with anybody that we are working with? and then from there, we search for an interesting way to tell their story.”

That personal and intimate angle is exactly what makes CRUSHfanzine’s content stand out amid so many interviews and articles. 

“Every actress or actor I love, when you hear about the next movie, that’s kind of boring. You want to know what they dreamed about last night, what their fears are, what makes them nervous, if they have a secret crush, and things like that. If you were trying to become someone’s best friend, what would you want to know? If you wanted to date someone, what would you say? and that’s kind of the way we approach all of our questions,” shares Khary.

Khary explains that, for him, doing a project on someone’s obsession is like when you really want to look inside a window, so you press your nose into the glass and try to capture as much as you can from a distance. I personally think that’s a really poetic way to approach journalism. 

Much more than a magazine

Inspired by art and with a longer production period, CRUSHfanzine goes beyond the print and exhibits its interviews and materials in many different ways. Besides the printed magazine, Nicolas and Khary have organized art shows, installations, short films, and even fiction-bound objects. 

In 2014, they collaborated with the Marianne Boesky Gallery to create a curated art show called “Something Beautiful” that portrayed artists such as Sue de Beer, who later on collaborated with CRUSHfanzine for other projects. 

CRUSHfanzine Something Beautiful

In the future, they hope to create more with experiences and spaces. A place where readers can come and experience the project as its whole, exploring every one of the human senses. “So you can kind of experience the full thing, from smell to touch to feel,” explains Khary. 

A project with purpose

When working on collab projects, CRUSH uses its influence for good and brings out one of the best things in the fashion and art world: social activism. 

They have a standing partnership with Old Age to create collab limited T-shirt collections. The idea is that each collection released would feature one artist’s work, and that artist would get to choose one non-profit organization or cause to benefit from the sale’s profit.  

Just last year, CRUSHfanzine X Old Age released a collection featuring Sue de Beer’s work, and the artist chose to help small towns affected by floods in Vermont, a cause close to her heart. Through that initiative, artists can show their work and give back to their community at the same time.

CRUSHfanzine’s consistent presence and growth in the print market for almost 15 years shows the strength of well-curated fashion publications. Although many think print is a dying art, initiatives like this prove that through hard work and unique approaches, magazines manage to stay relevant. 

“Print is always gonna be special to some people and that’s what I try to appeal to (…) it’s never gonna go away and, fine, you have to adapt, that’s why we do film, we do posters and objects, we do a lot of different things but I think that one thing is that there will always be some people that love print.”

It’s also important to understand your focus group and that working with print in a digital era is producing content for a specific niche. This way, CRUSH can get to know their readers more personally and center their issues on their desires.

 “I totally understand why sometimes it’s not for everybody because it’s always about obsession. Obsessions are very personal, so that’s one of the things that we always try to stay true to,” says Khary about CRUSHfanzine.

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