Print is dead they said. When we opened our doors in 2012 the magazine landscape was very different to the one we are experiencing today. Five years ago the number of magazines seemed finite, we were constantly searching for something new, trying to find that title which would bring something different to our shelves. Today the publishing gates are flung wide open and new title suggestions from all corners of the globe flood into our inbox almost daily. Fashion, lifestyle, food, typography, photography… all genres covered, all tastes catered for. We sometimes wish we were big enough to take them all, but we have to think carefully about each new title, as one in often means we have to lapse another. So the edit is painstakingly made and the decisions difficult to arrive at, but the wall of magazines, which helps put the ‘vary’ in our name, always gives us such pleasure.
As the dust finally settles on another bumper year for the printed page we thought it would be a good time to take a look back at some of our favourite magazines titles (sure, we bickered a little) and list our top ten.
1. Pressing Matters
Sometimes the gap in the market is so big you can’t see it. Thankfully John Coe has his fingers on the printing pulse, and as the creator of Boneshaker, knows how to publish a magazine. Pressing Matters is all about print, printing and printmakers and with the publication of issue 1 in May last year, we finally had a magazine in our hands that did the art form justice. From etching to screen-printing, risograph to letterpress, Pressing Matters explores the people, passion and process of modern printmaking and does it is style. Both issue 1 & 2 are out of stock now but issue 3 will be with us in March.
MacGuffin hales from The Netherlands, and since its launch in 2015 has been a solid shop favourite. Finding the heroic within the prosaic, MacGuffin takes an everyday object (a bed, a sink, maybe a cabinet) as a starting off point and thrills us with stories, articles, interviews and features which raise the ordinary to the sublime. As well as having a great concept and terrific copy, MacGuffin also looks, feels and smells wonderful. There is something timeless about it, something you keep going back to.
‘The Journal of Sartorial Matters’ first appeared in 2009, but it took us until issue 5 to catch up, and boy are we glad we did. Edited by Anja Aronowsky Cronberg and published under the patronage of the London College of Fashion, Vestoj explores the world of fashion through themes which emerge in each issue (recently these have included masculinity, failure and authenticity). This book-like annual publication includes essays, poetry, interviews, theory and fiction which come together to form an impressive, engaging and enlightening body of work. It’s a real tour-de-force of fashion writing and, with the inclusion of photography and illustration from some of the world's finest, a beautiful object in its own right.
Apartamento has remained a huge shop favourite ever since we opened a box containing issue #10 in our first week of trading. This ‘everyday life interiors magazine’ from Barcelona has been an inspiring portal into the interiors of some of the most fascinating people we’ve ever had the pleasure to read about. There is an understated honesty to the presentation and a passion and wit in the writing that always stops productivity in the shop whenever it arrives. The current issue marks the 10th birthday of this influential magazine – here’s to another 10.
Alongside the revival of Baseline and the continued brilliance of The Recorder, Typenotes was entering a busy typographic market when it appeared in May last year. However, this handsome magazine, published by London-based type foundry Font Smith, quickly found its feet, selling out of its first edition in no time flat. Maybe it was that beautiful design by Counter-Press, perhaps it was the passionate writing and the topical articles pitched both at the type professional and the fan. Whichever it was, we forgot to save one for ourselves – doh!
6. Delayed Gratification
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Delayed Gratification share this sentiment with Ferris Bueller, and their slow news magazine, which looks back at global events of previous months, is an antidote to the quick fix, instant delivery, post-truth news lite that we all consume through our phones. There is a balance in the content of this excellent news and current affairs magazine which we love – excellent, long form, investigative writing sits happily alongside beautifully rendered infographics, creating an engaging quarterly read. Issue 28 was the first to sell out its print run – maybe the DG effect is finally working #putdownyourphones
German international design magazine Slanted is one big, beautiful bi-annual beast of mag. Since issue 14, each issue of Slanted has cast its eye over the contemporary design scene of a major city, with the team visiting the designers, illustrators, typographers and creatives who represent the creative cutting edge. It isn’t all pretty pictures though (and there are plenty of those), there are essay sections on the historic and cultural design of these centres, interviews with people from the creative community and always a contemporary typeface insert (well, these guys do publish Typodarium too!)
8. Another Escape
Our relationship with outdoor lifestyle and creative culture magazine Another Escape has been pretty close since we opened. We are both about the same age and have recently both undergone an image change. We can say for sure that Another Escape’s new look and feel has only improved what we’ve always considered a top flight lifestyle magazine. The new full bleed cover looks gorgeous, the new typeface choice perfect, but it’s in the pairing of the long-form writing and top notch photography where the beauty always lay, and that has not changed one jot. Phew.
This Glasgow-based food magazine is the brainchild of Ben Mervis, whose previous culinary exploits included working as a researcher on the Netflix series The Chef’s Table and assisting Rene Redzepi at Noma in Copenhagen. With a C.V. as foodie as this, it isn’t surprising that Fare turned out to be a real winner with our more culinary customers. Well-researched, wonderfully written and beautifully published, Fare manages to do that rare thing and that is immerse us in place through local people, their history and their food. The inaugural issue swept us through the open markets and busy kitchens of Istanbul and the newly published issue 2 tours us through the bakeries and restaurants of Finland’s capital, Helsinki.
10. Lunch Lady
Australian quarterly Lunch Lady is the creation of Kate Berry, who took her food and parenting blog to print with the help of ex-Frankie editors Lara Burke and Louise Bannister. We love this vibrantly published and printed kitchen keepsake with its saturated colours, gorgeous illustrations, thoughtful parenting articles and FUN recipes. Ok, we don’t have kids, but we DO want to know how to make a monster piñata ok? Ok!
It would be an injustice not to mention a couple of our favourite titles that this year decided to lay things to rest and cease publication.
Boneshaker was a flagship magazine of the Bristol Independent Publishing scene. A cycling magazine that threw its net wide, embracing road racers, mountain bikers, frame builders, Sunday day-trippers and everyone and anyone who had ever wobbled on two wheels. One thing that never really gets mentioned when talking about magazines is how they serve as a social grease. Through stocking Boneshaker we met so many people, chatted over the counter to a hugely diverse readership whose only bond was riding a bicycle. So thanks Boneshaker, not just for making such a lovely magazine, but for also introducing us to so many new folk.
Lucky Peach, oh how we miss you. David Chang’s irreverent, witty, joyous food journal hung up its chef’s whites in April this year with a special double issue that near enough broke our hearts. Through its use of contemporary illustration, its themed issues (breakfast was a favourite), its great gonzo style journalism – it changed food magazines, it shook out the stuffiness and ushered in a menu where street food held as much sway as fine dining and passion was king. We have a lot to thank Lucky Peach for… but you still broke our hearts.