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FIT student’s new magazine aims to bring more diversity and realness to fashion

Megan Morgante, founder and editor of NOEMI. (Photography by Jude Risberg)
Megan Morgante, founder and editor of NOEMI. (Photography by Jude Risberg)

BY GABE HERMAN | A student at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Chelsea has started a new fashion magazine that presents untouched photos and aims to portray more diverse issues in the fashion world.

The bi-annual, digital magazine is called NOEMI (pronounced “no Amy”) and can be found at https://www.thenoemimagazine.com/. It was founded by 20-year-old Megan Morgante, who grew up in Westchester and loved reading fashion magazines, she said, and stills reads them a lot. But she said she was left feeling bad because she didn’t look like the women in the magazines, and said she was curvier than the models.

“After reading every issue came new disappointments with it,” Morgante said. “When I didn’t see girls that looked like me, I was left with a lot of negative thoughts and body images that were really dangerous for my well-being.”

Young people can be easily influenced by retouched images, she said, and deserve better than an edited version of what’s expected of them.

NOEMIE’s first cover. (Photography by Michelle Mercede)

“I wanted to showcase the realness and rawness of the fashion industry,” she said, “and I wanted to fill that gap for readers who are not typically represented.” The first issue, which came out in October and is the Fall/Winter 2019 issue, includes diverse representations of races, sizes and sexualities, Morgante noted.

“I want the readers to see some sort of reflection of themselves,” she said. “I want them to really resonate with something.” She added, “I believe there’s no true definition of what beauty is, and with this I want to illustrate that beauty if from what’s within a person.”

Ana Rivera for NOEMI Magazine. (Photography by Michelle Mercede)

It wasn’t easy starting a magazine from scratch, especially since Morgante does the journalism, fashion styling, graphic designs, and public relations. “It was so challenging,” she said.

There are still growing pains and struggles to get the magazine’s name out there, she said, and there was hundreds of rejections from talent, designers and photographers in trying to put together the first issue.

“But I really don’t get discouraged easily,” she said, “and I’m a very persistent person.”

She kept reaching out and eventually found people who agreed to be in the issue, including YouTube star Margot Lee; fashion influencer and businesswoman Katie Sturino, who runs a blog for plus-size fashion called “The 12ish Style”; and teenage author Carrie Berk, who is an anti-bullying activist and entrepreneur.

Morgante moved to New York City in early 2019 to study at FIT. She’s majoring in advertising and marketing communications, and is on pace to graduate next year.

“I love living here and taking advantage of everything the city has to offer,” she said, and added she gets ideas just from walking down the street and watching people and how they behave. “The city definitely inspires me a bunch.”

Jem Catalano Espada for NOEMI Magazine. (Photography by Michelle Mercede)

NOEMI’s name comes from Morgante’s grandmother, who Morgante said is kind and generous to everyone. “She helped instill so many ideals and morals into me,” she said. “She’s a huge aspect of my life and this magazine celebrates everything she believes in.”

Reactions to the first issue have been very positive, Morgante said. “We got some really great feedback from it and I think it’s resonating with people,” she noted. She’s already at work on the spring/summer issue, and has heard from people in the fashion world who want to be a part of it.

She is still working on topics to address in the next issue but plans to continue exploring important social issues. “Fashion is such a global thing,” she said, “that even if you don’t speak the same language, if you look at a piece of art it can say the same thing to a hundred different people.”

Morgante is on pace to graduate next year, and hopes to have a few more issues out by then. In five years, she plans to still be creating, whether with NOEMI or elsewhere, “making waves in the social issues that are happening today, and I want to be creating conversations about that,” she said. “I love what I’m doing and I believe this can be something, so I’m excited about it.”

For now, she’s still a full-time student, and time management is crucial when trying to also run NOEMI. “It’s time consuming and exhausting,” she said, “but I wouldn’t change anything because I’ve wanted to do this for years. And if it helps one person feel a little more accepted and represented in the fashion industry, then I feel I’ve accomplished something.”

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