The latest in my series of Q&As with key industry contacts

Wafa Alobaidat is the editor in chief of newly launched Sketchbook Magazine, a publication rich with illustrations, thought-provoking interviews and generally beautiful aesthetics. See October’s post for a review of the first issue: http://rachelmenashy.blogspot.com/2009/10/sketchbook-magazine.html I have had the pleasure of meeting both Wafa and Sketchbook’s features editor, Luma Bashmi begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting and I have complete confidence in predicting that this magazine is going places. The team are extremely passionate about what they are doing and have some great ideas for the future… R: What made you decide to focus the first issue of Sketchbook Magazine on fashion bloggers? What were your inspirations behind it? W: “I found that reading through magazines I was left wanting more than was published. I wanted a publication rich with illustrations, drawings and images that celebrated young individual’s talents. So when I couldn’t find what I was looking for, I created Sketchbook: part portfolio, part character sketch and filled with lots of fashion/art/culture tidbits in between. I was really lucky to have experienced working with Liza Bruce when I was still a student at Chelsea College of Art and Design. Liza is a burst of creative energy and she took me under her wing. It was in her head boutique in Knightsbridge where I experienced all the different aspects of fashion and whilst working with her creative passionate Italian staff that I fell in love with the industry. It was also about three years ago that I fell in love with blogging; they are accessible and very refreshing to read. Blogs give you a more personal perspective into fashion as opposed to when someone tells you what you are supposed to wear. Blogs are becoming more important especially as the media in general becomes more digital and everyone seems to be making the move online. I especially love Susie Lau’s Style Bubble. You get an insight into her closet, her style, her space, her boyfriend, her world. I definitely wanted to pay homage to her and all my favourite bloggers. Sketchbook is also trying to revive the dying art of illustrations. With photography I find that sometimes you feel like you have seen it all before, illustrations bring a different spin and I believe this is exciting and very fresh.” R: Which are your top 3 fashion blogs? – why? W: “Susie Bubble, of course, she gives a great platform to young designers and pretty much coined the idea of styling herself and taking pictures. She posts about 3 posts a day and in very in-depth in her posts. She has some really exciting experiences and a lot of great opportunities and she reports on these events in an in-depth way, making you feel like she’s taking you with her. She’s also very funny and relates fashion to all aspects of life: to food, to politics, and makes it very relevant to every day living. There’s also The Sartorialist who pretty much invented street style. He captures photos of unique people and pays a lot of attention to detail. He has a good eye for characters and has created a movement encouraging his readers to put together fashion in an interesting way as opposed to it being just about the labels. He puts up a post a day, sometime two, but with him it is definitely more about the quality than the quantity. I also love Garance Dore who is a story teller and she has a very honest, raw take on fashion. Her style is unconventional and for someone in the fashion industry is very down to earth. She gives a girly, feminine spin to street style and each blog post is like a mini-novel. She is multi-talented: she illustrates (which we love), she photographs and she writes great short stories. She doesn’t post as often as the other two but she puts so much thought into them that you find yourself waiting for her next post.” R: You have started a Sketchbook blog – have you received a good response from it? W: “The Sketchbook Blog has received great response! We get about 2,000 hits daily and we update it every day. I think one of our niches is that we cover a lot of behind the scenes, look at designer’s spaces and studios, and most blogs don’t do this. It definitely gives a 3D look to the what we do at Sketchbook and it compliments Sketchbook TV which is where we upload ‘webisodes’ of interviews we’ve done or events we’ve covered and our readers who feel like they are left wanting more after reading the posts can watch the rest of the coverage on-line.” R: Is the future of fashion media online or will print magazines still be important in 10 years time? W: “With the recession, fashion online media has never been more vital. It’s free, it’s available, it’s quick and updated regularly. A lot of magazines are moving online, or at least having an online portal. Dazed now has a digital version and a lot of magazines are now free to flick through on websites such as Issuu.com. I think it’s only going to get bigger but I also believe there will always be a place for print magazine. With print magazines you can read them on the tube, on the plane. I think they will start to be seen as collectibles, like artwork.” R: Are there any plans for future collaborations with bloggers for Sketchbook? W: “At Sketchbook we are all about collaborations, that’s what we do with our illustrators and bloggers. Recently we collaborated with the blogger Prince Pelayo and he took out time to do a photo shoot for the print magazine. We are also working on a very exciting project; we’re working on a novel about fashion blogging with a writer.” Thanks Wafa x Visit http://www.sketchbookmagazine.com/ for more information about the magazine and to view the Sketchbook blog. http://rachelmenashy.blogspot.com/2009/12/q-with-wafa-alobaidat-of-sketchbook.html