Style & Grooming

JW Anderson’s New Zine Is a Portrait of New York’s Queer Community

Captured by photographer Daniel Rampulla, the brand’s first zine captures the private lives of queer men in New York

In February 2018, JW Anderson held an open call for photographers – published and not – to capture the London-based label’s Autumn/Winter 2018 campaign. (“Do you want to be part of a new, new wave?” it asked.) The result was Your Picture / Our Future, an exhibition and accompanying book comprising shortlisted entries from around the world, and a campaign photographed by a trio of then-unknown photographers Yelena BeletskayaSimons Finnerty and Julie Greve (the latter has since contributed to AnOther, and captured a series for Miu Miu). 

Another shortlisted entrant was New York-based photographer Daniel Rampulla who, one year on from the competition, has been announced as the first collaborator on JW Anderson’s new series of limited-edition ‘fanzines’. “I never thought a fashion brand would be interested in showing my work; half of the images I submitted didn’t even have people in them and the ones that did weren’t wearing designer clothes,” Rampulla says of his first Your Picture / Our Future entry. “But they connected to them and understood what I was showing – I’m very grateful to them for recognising my work. It was pretty much exactly a year later that I got an email from them asking me to shoot what ended up being this zine.”

The limited-edition photo book, which is titled JWA_ZINE: 2019-001, consists of a series of portraits of Brandon, a dancer; Finn, a visual artist; and Rami, a poet – each of whom belongs to New York’s LGBTQ+ community. “It was important to surround myself with people I knew and trusted on this project,” Rampulla tells Another Man. “Everyone involved is queer and a friend of mine. I chose non-models to photograph because I wanted them to be themselves on camera. By that I mean bring their own experiences and emotions into the scene.”

The intimate portraiture, which might capture the nape of a neck or a subject’s body in repose, is set against images of each’s private spaces, be it the interior of an apartment or a park at night. “Being a queer person myself, this is the community of people I hang out with and am a part of,” says Rampulla. “A few years ago I started making work about unofficial queer spaces and the complex relationships that happen there. Outdoor cruising spots and apartments were most familiar to me so that’s where I started looking first.”

Such is Rampulla’s personal connection to both subject and subject matter that he describes the photographs as “self-portraits”. “My experience as a queer person is constantly negotiating between what makes me happy and what I was raised to believe is wrong and immoral,” he says. “My photographs reflect this tension and search for validation, from myself and others. I look for my reflection everywhere. There is a closeness and familiarity that I want to show between me and another person’s body or between me and an empty space.”

The photographs also capture various pieces from Jonathan Anderson’s Autumn/Winter 2019 menswear collection, shown in Paris earlier this year. For Rampulla, it would be the first time shooting fashion; previously, the clothing which has featured in his images has simply been the subject’s own. “I never thought of the project as a fashion spread,” he says. “I wanted it to feel real and in order to do that I needed to concentrate on the characters and locations. I wasn’t necessarily ever trying to show off the clothing. It’s much more interesting to show characters and feelings, relationships and include the clothing in that space.”

“JW Anderson puts a new spin on classic designs and in doing so the collection itself rejects our preconceived ideas of what clothing should look like or how a particular piece should be used,” Rampulla says. “There is nothing more queer than that.”

JW Anderson will distribute a limited number of printed fanzines to select followers of the brand via an online raffle. A digital copy will also be available for download.