When you think of Madison, "fashion" is probably not the first word that comes to mind. In our extreme winters, people are focused more on practical parkas than they are on Burberry trench coats. At the UW, in particular, a student budget doesn't usually allow for quilted Chanel totes.
But Moda, the UW's fashion and lifestyle magazine, is gracefully bringing fashion to the forefront of Madison culture. With ambitious plans for fall and its annual fashion show in spring, the publication is hoping to broaden its audience and boost Madison's fashion scene.
Moda started three years ago and is run entirely by UW students. The articles address fashion topics ranging from "How To: Style Your White Tee Like a Fashion Team Member" to "The Chanel Couture Standard" -- along with exploring the college dating scene and reviewing local bars. Naturally, Moda offered "Quick Tips for Navigating New York Fashion Week" last Friday. Engaging writing and high-quality photography make for a substantive publication, and the website is clean and user-friendly.
The current editor in chief is UW senior Chloe Karaskiewicz, who says Moda's primary goal is "to be the inspiration for dressing well, and how you do that on a college budget."
In addition to print issues in December and May, Moda publishes monthly mini-issues online and updates its website nearly every day to keep on top of the latest fashion trends. The writers meet once a week, with a new location this year at the Memorial Union. According to Jim Rogers, the professional adviser for the WUD Publications Committee, "The Wisconsin Union provides office space, computer hardware and software, minimal money, advising staff and leadership development."
Apart from those resources, Moda is what the students make it. "We encourage the student leaders to self-evaluate and improve their programs," Rogers says. "Students are the creators."
Karaskiewicz has high praise for Moda's student editors. "A lot of them get really invested in their section and tend to put a good deal of time into it," she says. "It's something we do for fun, and we don't get paid or anything. It's all about the passion, so at some point it takes over your life -- in a good way."
Moda has big plans for this school year, including a new arts section and men's section. "We brought in a men's director this year, and we're looking forward to the content he's going to create and inspire others to create," Karaskiewicz says. "I'm really excited to expand our audience."
Moda also plans to showcase more local and student designers, models, and hair and makeup artists in its annual Spring Fashion Week, beginning March 9. "We love to feature local designers because there's a lot of great talent here that doesn't get a window very often," Karaskiewicz says.
Karaskiewicz's commitment to Moda is evident, even though she doesn't plan on a career in fashion. She started working for the publication her freshman year and now, as editor in chief, sets high standards to create a publication she believes in.
"The first time I saw an issue that I produced, I cried. It was beautiful. Breaking open the box of new issues is a very proud moment."
Karaskiewicz wants Moda to be, as she puts it, more Vogue than Cosmopolitan. "I don't want to put lingerie-clad models on the front to sell a magazine," she says. "I want to publish something that is interesting in its own right."
Her high expectations not only produce a better magazine, but also push students to test themselves. Rogers explains the UW's perspective on the value of a campus fashion magazine: "Moda does an excellent job in developing useful skills for a lifetime."
As for Karaskiewicz, she sees fashion as an expression of individuality. "It really only takes one person to be different and to do something to stand out," she says. "It's about making choices that are distinctive and will say about you what you want to portray to the world."