Casting director Kevin Amato and VFiles Founder Julie Anne Quay have some experience creating crowdsourced collaborations. The duo have been working together for six seasons to produce VFiles’ fashion shows, which gather up-and-coming designers from around the world to bring them to New York Fashion Week and interact with mentors such as Harold Koda.
But their next project pushes the idea of curating from the crowd to the next level. Inspired by the crowdsourced photography submissions to VFiles online, they decided to create a print magazine called Womb. “It’s exactly the same philosophy we do with runway,” said Quay. “We just applied it to print.”
Amato came up with the idea for Womb after an inspiring conversation with Quay on what the concept of VFiles represents. “We’re a platform that allows kids to push things forward.” Rather than create a typical magazine with articles and words, the zine is heavy on striking images and photography.
“The first issue is all about issues,” said Quay. Together, Quay and Amato created a survey that asked questions like: “What’s your gender identity?” to “What’s the furthest you’ve been from home?” Some of the survey answers were ultimately repurposed as quotes in the final issue. Most of the imagery in Womb was submitted through an online portal on VFiles’ website and was created by people as young as 16. “This is totally to give these kids exposure,” said Amato.
In addition, K-pop star CL makes an appearance in several pages and helped Amato make final selections. Will.i.am also stars in some of the imagery. “But they all appear with everyone else,” says Quay. “There’s kids from Philly, there’s photographers from Eastern Europe.”
From over 2,000 submissions, about 50 were printed in the magazine. Calvin Klein is funding the project and the zine will be free in stores around the world, including Colette in Paris and the VFiles flagship in New York starting July 11. “It’s important for it to be free,” said Amato. “We collaborate in a lot of ways, and this is about giving back, to these kids I photographed, worked with, or cast. It’s like a big giant family, and that’s how Womb came about.”
VFiles will also be launching an app in the coming months to allow the contributors to sell their work. “The whole philosophy of VFiles is to empower these kids to be whoever they want to be,” said Quay. Click ahead for an exclusive first look at the magazine.