Bored of the back-to-school reading list? Take a break from studying and delve into the pages of an indie magazine.
It’s September, which means it’s back to school – time to dust off those forgotten books that you vowed so earnestly to read at the beginning of summer, before sun and socialising distracted you, and get back to the grind. Or, if you’re anything like me when faced with an unread reading list and less than a fortnight until the start of term, you could just stay in denial and read basically anything else you can get your hands on. So this is me telling you to forget that university recommended reading list and settle into some of the best alternative material: independent magazines. Something of a revolution, indie magazines are a saving grace in a world saturated by continuous streams of information from myriad screens, creating a space to pause and meditate on life in a far more meaningful way than any click-bait Buzzfeed summary can offer. As such, here is a curated selection of titles that do just this – their aesthetic treatment of lifestyle writing particularly apt for the modern young woman looking to enrich all aspects of her life.
Lula – produced independently and locally (on Charlotte Street, no less) – is a prime example of how independent magazines are saving print journalism by creating a space where the white noise of the digital age can temporarily be forgotten via the dreamy styling of its editorials. In the current issue, Lula turns its attention to youth, ‘the people,’ editor-in-chief Mimma Viglezio keenly observes, ‘that will have the final world and make us … admit that maybe we should have listened earlier.’ In a post-Brexit world that ignored a generation of 18-24 year olds who opted overwhelmingly to ‘Remain’, this statement is a welcome vote of confidence and Lula is reassuring as a thoughtful platform for young people like ourselves, today.
CEREAL and SUITCASE
For the cosmopolitan and metropolitan woman with a healthy dose of wanderlust, Cereal and Suitcase are both titles that provide a welcome escape from reality by combining international travel and an eye for style. Produced quarterly, these are travel magazines for the Instagram generation – think beautifully cropped and artfully presented still-life shots. Transporting readers through evocative editorials (the latest issue of Suitcase pulls us into the Thelma & Louise-like antics of Suki Waterhouse and her best friend in Mad Men era California), both titles serve not only as ample inspiration for the aspiring Digital Nomad – one who makes a living uploading selfies in exotic locations – but also, as a means of connecting these like-minded travellers the world over.
Alongside its magazine, Cereal also produces carefully curated city guides that serve as the travel directory you’ve always wanted: understated, informative and without the usual clutter and clumsiness that outs you as a tourist. These portable white-and-grey bound issues are made for the creative-on-the-go who’s looking to experience these cities like a local by following recommendations from top chefs and influencers in each city. Likewise, Suitcase’s helpful ‘What To Pack’ double-page spreads for each destination turn the stress of packing into simple, chic photo guides, perfect for anyone who wants to avoid panic-packing her entire wardrobe for a trip (guilty).
My personal favourite, Cherry Bombe combines my two great passions: food and excellent photography. A biannual publication celebrating women and food, Cherry Bombe explores ‘sustenance and style … things that nourish the mind, the eye and, of course, the stomach’. In a time when everyone and their grandmother post pictures of their dinner to Instagram, Cherry Bombe’s spreads are consistent reminders of the real art of food photography, demonstrating their dual passion for [delectable] eats and aesthetics. Chrissy Teigen as the current cover star is the ideal embodiment of these interests, straddling the glamorous fashion world and a homegrown approach to cooking – and looking fabulous all the while. Reading Cherry Bombe and feeding the aesthete and foodie in all of us, I feel closer to living my best life à la Teigen – and who could hope for more really?
‘Your new best friend,’ reads the title page of Betty, a magazine whose approach to fashion, beauty and food recipes figures the publication as the print equivalent of a lifestyle vlogger. Although, there is a certain genuine authenticity of Betty, in comparison to the increasingly for-profit YouTube content, that comes from a sense of personality specific to print and that will ensure its endurance through an increasingly digitized world. ‘A magazine dedicated to sharing with you only the things that we like,’ seems a revolutionary statement in a time when content is, more often than not, an #ad – and so, Betty distinguishes itself as a breath of fresh (floral, in the case of this issue) air in an increasingly stagnant world inundated with viral content.
oh comely is similar in its approach to various aspects of lifestyle, imbuing its issues with the same sense of personality as Betty and delving into each topic with a book-like publication that combines fresh, new writing, photography and illustration. Started as the bedroom project of three university friends, oh comely preserves this DIY quality, inviting collaborations from its readers in the creation of each issue. This particular issue deals, profoundly, with letters – the letters we never write, what our lettering says about us – and the importance of connection and communication in a world that seems more distant as our means of communication become more instant. Printed bi-monthly, oh comely, deliberately slows down this impulse for immediate gratification and presents to us a medium through which the merits of thoughtful reflection may be felt.
Rounding out this list is KINFOLK, a publication that encapsulates the essence of all these other independent magazines in its aspiration to be ‘a slow lifestyle magazine,’ exploring ‘ways for readers to simplify their lives.’ Where the previous issue delved into travel, Issue 21 focuses on the notion of home and the considered ‘series’ style of these almost book-like publications highlights the significance of independent magazines as continually thought-provoking dialogues. The smaller readerships allow these magazines to be particularly collaborative, as proved by KINFOLK’s profile series on young creatives from its far-ranging contributor base which showcases real-life people living the lives we all aspire to live: young, creative and eager to enjoy life through a balance of career success and mindful living.
Photography: Fedora Abu