WORDS AND IMAGES BY BETH SIVEYER
Meadham Kirchhoff are one of the most talked about designer duos in fashion at the moment. With their theatrical catwalk shows, kinderwhore inspirations and eccentric designs, Meadham Kirchhoff are totally unforgettable. Ed Meadham was kind enough to invite me round to their studio for a cup of tea where we chatted about zines, feminism and Beyoncé.
Beth: I thought we could start off by talking about zines…
Ed: To be honest, I never made zines. I used to make them when I was a kid, but never actually turned them into a zine. I’ve never really read that many… which is quite weird. When I grew up and was getting into riot grrrl, the zines were something I used to read about but I never ever found any. Now I’ve got some of the Bikini Kill and Girl Germ zines…
B: Yeah, I’ve got the reprint of those.
E: Yeah, exactly. Thankfully somebody had the thought to do that. But I never had any at the time and I’ve never really been that involved with the whole thing, unfortunately.
(Ed passes me a copy of Marlena’s ‘Pastel Puke’ zine which is heavily inspired by Meadham Kirchhoff’s S/S 2012)
B: So you don’t really collect them then?
E: No, I don’t. I probably should but I don’t…
B: The reason I love zines so much is the fact that they’re such a blank canvas for everyone.
E: Yeah, and it’s just such a good, easy and effective way of expressing something.
I guess the thing now’er days, is that all the kids have got blogs haven’t they? Which sort of amounts to the same thing I think, when used interestingly.
B: I have a Tumblr for my zine, which is sort of to get it out there a bit more. But the thing with Girls Get Busy is that it’s international really, and a lot of my contributors are from the Internet. I wouldn’t say GGB is necessarily a riot grrrl zine, obviously it’s inspired by them and kind of connected but I’ve met people who have said they don’t like the internet aspect of zines, but I suppose they’re just a bit old-school.
E: Well, I get that too. But it’s made all these things, for me anyway, come back to life. I’d gotten into riot grrrl as a teenager in 93/94 and it had already gone by then, and it was so intangible to me. Like I couldn’t actually get anywhere near it. It was impossible for me to find these records in the first place, so I’d always have to come up to London and go to Rough Trade and buy the Skinned Teen records. I really had not met anyone in my life until I eventually started looking at Tavi’s blog. I saw that she was photographing like Mui Mui shoes on a Free Kitten record, and I was like oh! I really felt like up until then all of these things had been forgotten about. I never actually met anyone in life, even when I was at school or ever since anybody who liked or was interested in these things, unless I was making them interested in it.
I think the Internet has sort of opened up avenues of communication with people about ideas that were much much harder to deal with. I mean, like on the Bikini Kill records and most of the others, they used to have addresses where you could write to and I always did. I’d ask for zines to be sent to me, but nobody actually sent anything… it just seemed like a totally distant situation.
B: I suppose maybe in a way you probably didn’t expect a reply?
E: I did and I didn’t. No, not really… I definitely have experienced a lot of girls not speaking to me just because I’m a boy, which is a bit ridiculous. I kind of half get it; I really try to avoid boys as much as possible as well. But it’s just a bit depressing; it’s not my fault.
B: Yeah, I think that kind of attitude is nothing but negative.
E: Well it doesn’t seem very progressive. I don’t know how you expect to change anything if you will only literally speak to people who are the exact demographic that each individual person is and addresses, if you know what I mean? I think things are only going to change if you open up to challenging people sometimes, just introduce your ideas to other people.
B: I’m currently working on a zine that’s kind of a celebration of male feminists.
E: Oh, I saw that. I think it’s really important. I’ve talked a lot about feminism in the fashion press over the last two years, much to everybody’s amazement because they can’t get their head around why I think about these things because I’m a boy. I think it relates to so many other things about our culture. If we live in a world that hates women, I don’t really see how anything else subsequently is okay. Like the whole world hates half its population…
B: Well it’s always baffled that everybody isn’t interested in feminism to be honest, it just seems like a no-brainer to me. When I’m asked about feminism, a lot of interviewers just focus on female feminists and I try to remind them that men suffer from sexism just as much as women, particularly in the media.
E: Absolutely. And in ridiculous ways, like when I was at school when I was about 10, there was an after-school activity where one of our teachers taught ‘girls’ how to do bobbing lace, and that was all I wanted to do and she wouldn’t let me.
I think that’s partly where this (pointing around the office) started. I was just like fuck this shit… I never had any friends that were boys when I was little, and there were periods of times where I was forced to not play with my friends and to play with the boys instead and other stupid shit. It all amounts to the same things in my mind.
B: Sometimes I could cry with the state of the world.
E: There were periods where it felt like it was getting better, and now it definitely feels worse.
B: It’s just everywhere. Like Heat magazine and supposedly ‘women’s magazines’…
E: That’s what I rant about constantly.
B: They’re evil.
E: They are evil! And they circle people like ‘this one’s too fat’ and ‘this one’s too thin’.
B: And their obsession with women’s wrinkly knees!
E: Oh, anything. Yeah, it is quite disgusting. I definitely think that everything’s got worse and I think that’s really why I wanted to talk about it so much.
B: I wish more people did. Especially men… but I guess there aren’t many people who have the platform who would.
E: There aren’t that many people now’er days that have anything to say.
B: Yeah and I suppose the fact that we have ‘reality’ TV shows like The Only Way Is Essex that basically glorify idiots and gives them a celebrity status.
E: I think our whole culture is in celebration of banality these days. Which is everything that I want to avoid and totally react against.
B: It’s dangerous for young people as well, like I wouldn’t want to be 14 now because of the pressure and social conditioning.
E: Yeah, it’s kind of ridiculous and I can’t really think of any particularly positive public alternative to any of the nasty things. Maybe Beyoncé? I love Beyoncé; I think her message is relatively positive. But even then, there are not really any representations to all of the gross things.
B: I was talking with someone the other day about positive female role models or you know women really doing it for themselves, and we were talking about Beyoncé…
E: I believe that what Beyoncé is presenting is at least a part of Beyoncé, She has an all girl band and the lyrics to some of her songs seem quite good.
I got distracted by everything in Ed’s office, what with all the tinsel and boxed Barbies. He showed me his Hole hairclip that he won in a Radio competition 18 years ago and a quick tour of the studio.