“I don’t think there’s been a tougher time in fashion since I’ve been doing this,” says tastemaker and freelance publisher Jefferson Hack, who co-founded Dizzy and confused magazine in 1991. “Brexit has made trading incredibly difficult. The lack of visas means that any collaboration between Europe and the UK has disappeared. And with the tailwind of the pandemic and interest rates, we have this really tough set of conditions for young designers.
Hack is used to seeing the world through the lens of young creatives and the challenges they face. It’s this nurturing perspective that has earned her a British Fashion Council (BFC) Special Recognition Award for Cultural Retention, to be announced this week.
The BFC says: “Hack will be rewarded for empowering young people through creativity and for creating countless opportunities for next-generation creatives working in fashion, design, art, music and more, providing a platform and supporting emerging talent.” The award will be presented to her at the sparkling annual BFC Fashion Awards at the Royal Albert Hall in December.
Thirty-one years ago, Hack was that next-gen creative. At 19, he co-founded the influential independent zine with photographer Rankin; stylist Katie Grand joins them soon after. He describes himself as “the baby of the group”.
“They were my original teachers, because they had so much confidence and charisma, and I was very shy,” he says via Zoom from the east London home he shares with his girlfriend. , the 33-year-old American model Anna Cleveland.
Hack collaborators have since included the biggest names in the creative industries, including designers Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and Karl Lagerfeld, pop artist Peter Blake, photographer Nick Knight and singers Rihanna, Björk.
Now 51 years old and having expanded Dizzy in Dazed Media, which includes Another Magazine and Another man, Nowness digital video channel, Dazed Beauty and Dazed Studio, it is Hack who mentors so many of the young creatives featured on the platform. “I’m probably doing more than I have time to do,” he says.
It all happens at the London headquarters, 180 Strand, which he calls a ‘dream factory’ and a ‘community’ – Dazed Media employs over 130 staff and freelancers. It also hosts artist residencies, an exhibition and performance space, a bookstore, a library and a bar.
Mentoring happens “organically,” with Hack making sure he’s in the building at least three days a week. “Physically, it’s so much easier if you catch up, than having planned everything.”
The DIY punk spirit of Dazed’s beginnings lives on. Hack says he always advises financial and creative independence from his mentees: “Don’t take anyone else’s money unless you’re absolutely in control,” he says. “I’ve seen so many people lose their name, lose their brand, because they signed contracts they didn’t really understand.
“It is absolute tyranny. All CVs [venture capital] companies want to get in early and earn big stakes, then they bring nothing to the table.
He went there himself, with ‘so many opportunities to step away from the platform’, but also ‘such boring, endless conversations around so many board tables – I don’t care anymore’ .
Independence, it seems, is a lifeblood for Hack. “I really struggled to be independent in my late 10s, because of how much money people were making around me and how attractive it looked. But in my heart, I knew independence was the only way I knew to function. I am very happy.”