The members of MSU's student-run campus fashion publication had no intention of letting COVID-19 stand in their way of producing a magazine during the fall semester.
Instead, the VIM production team, led by Editors-In-Chief Alaina Agnello and Eve Voci, were more determined than ever to produce the bi-annual fashion publication while closely adhering to necessary health precautions.
"I was pretty worried at the beginning of the semester. We knew it was going to be pretty bad in East Lansing and I didn't know if we would be able to meet in person or not. But it never crossed our minds not to do a magazine," Agnello said. "We never asked if we were going to put out a magazine, it was always, how are we going to put out a magazine."
Agnello said she and Voci were so grateful that the VIM team kept that positive energy and wanted to put out a magazine regardless. Agnello and Voci made a detailed list of COVID-19 rules that would followed for the fall semester. That list is shared in the letter to the editor at the front of the current edition of the magazine.
For example, all of the photo shoots were held outside. Agnello and Voci kept a tight limit on the amount of people on set for photo shoots, and everyone wore masks and stayed at least six feet apart. Make-up artists wore face shields in addition to masks. Everyone involved had a temperature check before going on the set.
"Models were asked to express their level of comfort being around other models, and accommodations were made for each person's individual preferences," Voci said. "Some photo shoots had to be rescheduled if a model was near someone who contracted COVID-19. Those who had been in contact with someone with COVID-19 were not allowed on photo sets for two weeks."
Voci said the determination to produce a fall edition came from the staff's love for VIM, what it stands for, and the opportunities it provides.
"The magazine is so important to our staff and our members. This is what they use for interviews (for jobs and internships)," Voci said. "It is such a passion project for all of us."
Voci said she has secured two internships and a full-time job because of the experience she gained with VIM, and many others have similar stories to tell.
"It's really important for people to have that physical magazine, and have their name in it, for interviews," Voci said. "It's important they have something tangible, employers really like to see that. We were so determined to get a magazine out this semester."
VIM also provides networking opportunities. Staff members attended the Vogue Forces of Fashion Summit this fall remotely, something they could not have done if the event had been held in person as usual.
The current edition is currently available online. As for the print edition, Agnello said in a normal semester, 1,000 copies are printed and distributed on campus.
But for the current edition, they are printing out a limited amount for staff members and guest speakers (a Vogue writer recently met the staff via Zoom) who have spoken to them. They will distribute a few copies in downtown East Lansing in January.
Voci said VIM is an important creative outlet for students at MSU. Voci has always been interested in fashion, and VIM has provided a chance to learn the business aspect of the field and make connections in the fashion industry.
"The networking opportunities are amazing and it's so crazy to see where all our members are going," Voci said.
For Agnello, discovering VIM soon after arriving on campus as a freshman rekindled her love for the industry after some discouraging experiences in high school.
"VIM to me was a game changer. Growing up, I learned the fashion industry was more exclusive than I thought." said Agnello, who did modeling as a teenager. "At the beginning of my freshman year I took a step back and thought, 'Maybe fashion is not for me.' Then somebody told me about VIM. I checked it out and learned that VIM was truly trying to make fashion a place for everyone regardless of race, or size, or gender, or whatever. They were genuinely trying to represent everyone on our campus.
"Fashion isn't just for one type of person. I mean, everyone wears clothes. You deserve to feel good in what you wear. My main force (as editor) is to make it inclusive for everyone. Fashion is something that everyone should feel good about and feel good in the clothes they wear."
By Richard Epps