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Sep 06, 2023

3 paper treasures that will make you want to buy a print magazine again

Remember when print magazines played an irreplaceable role in the fashion system? As Gen-Zers, this golden era of the publishing industry seems so far back in time. However, not so many years ago, people still read the news in print rather than on a screen and preferred to buy hard copies of publications – newspapers were seen as the only trusted source of information, while physical magazines were perceived as more leisurely formats. What happened then? Why is everyone now reading online? Has digital readership overtaken print? Do we really prefer surfing the Internet for digital media rather than print titles?

A Magazine Curated By is a printed fashion magazine that explores the universe of a fashion designer as guest curator in each issue. The author of this piece considers it a real paper treasure that will make you want to buy a printed magazine again


Print versus digital: Are printed magazines still popular – and why should they? 

Although the look and feel of paper cannot be replicated on a screen, and the information contained in a physical publication is often still considered more accurate, we have seen a decline in the number of print readers. Consumers have turned to digital media due to the rise of virtual publications, online competition such as Instagram and TikTok, and the Covid-19 pandemic.

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A jewel in the crown of print publications, Six magazine was launched by Japanese fashion designer and Comme des Garçons founder Rei Kawakubo. Only eight issues were published

We have simply lost the habit of buying printed publications, so their expressive value and specific aesthetic qualities now tend to be forgotten. Newsstands are disappearing, as fashion magazines or popular daily newspapers can be accessed online and read quickly through our smartphones. With ideas and opinions that can be published immediately on the Internet, through social media or personal blogs, physical media – as well as editors, journalists and publishers – may seem no longer relevant. But is this really the way things are?


Tangibility matters! Feel the paper, touch the artistic value 

Although the fight against paper waste and deforestation is an extremely serious issue, where paper is used consciously, it can result in hard copies that are almost collector’s volumes to treasure in your library for inspiration. 

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iDest magazine is the new guard of Chinese independent print magazines, says the author of this article

In this article, I will examine three niche magazines to demonstrate the unique characteristics of printed fashion magazines and their expressive and artistic role in today’s visual industry. Curated by great image creators such as stylists, big names in photography, artistic directors and designers, these publications result in volumes similar to photo books and convey messages and emotions through paper: colours, shapes and words, thus becoming a powerful medium for expressing their aesthetic ideas. What happens when some of the most famous creative directors and fashion trailblazers become magazine curators?


A Magazine Curated By, aka the ‘carte blanche’ free-reign for designers where fashion addicts can take a comprehensive immersion into their artistic universe 

It is important to understand that ‘A magazine curated by’ is actually the name of a publication. Founded in Antwerp, Belgium, and initiated by Walter Van Beirendonck, it is described as “a fashion magazine that explores the universe of a chosen fashion designer in each issue. [...] Each issue celebrates this designer’s ethos: their people, their passion, their stories, emotions, fascinations, spontaneity and authenticity.”

The title is purposely kept short for each guest curator – a designer, group or international fashion house – invited to develop innovative and customised content to express their aesthetic and cultural values. Designer collaborations may include a page of handwritten text, a landscape view, a zoomed-in photograph and/or a snapshot of their lives.

To use a metaphor, we can say that this magazine is a revelation of the designers’ ‘dear diaries’. All images are high quality and printed in 230 x 295 mm format. However, as a limited edition, it is often sold out.

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For example, issue n° 3 of the magazine is curated by Haider Ackermann, a Colombian-born French fashion designer. With this publication, Haider Ackermann wanted to show the complex path and contradictions that led to fashion creation. It is an intimate reflection of his creative journey without flaunting his successes or focusing on his acclaimed collections. The designer, highly regarded by Karl Lagerfeld and others, is famous for his extreme style and the intense emotions he conveys through his work. He was also the one who was expelled from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and left the Berluti brand after only three seasons.


A short-lived but art-filled visual exploration into the sixth sense. Remember the eight issues of the biannual Six Magazine by Comme des Garçons, now become collectors’ items?

Six is the name of this significant fashion magazine, whose title can be interpreted as our “sixth sense.” This magazine was launched by Japanese fashion designer and Comme des Garçons founder Rei Kawakubo in collaboration with designer Tsuguya Inoue and editor Atsuko Kozasu.

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Printed in an oversized A3 magazine format with dimensions of 30 x 40 cm, it gives a familiar impression to art students who are the best friends of A3 sketchbooks. Although the magazine was established in 1988, it ended its production in 1991 after publishing only eight issues.

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A biannual publication rich in photography with little text, “each release coincided with the launch of Comme des Garçons’ latest collection,” stated Kinfolk, and communicated Rei Kawakubo’s fashion visions and values. Describing the project in the New York Times, Kawakubo said: “High fashion has to have a mystery about it. This is the next step: visual representation of the collection, purely for image.”

Among the issues, which have now become collector’s items and are considered aesthetic treasures, I would like to focus on issue 6, published in 1990 – truly unique. Here, the title on the cover stands out because it has the same number as the magazine’s name. Flipping through the magazine, we find a world where different emotions and norms coexist. The main inspiration for Six Number 6 was the paintings depicting everyday life in Georgia created by Niko Pirosmani. They can be bold, brutal, and all messed up on the outside, but with an inner beauty that emerges.


Spreading creativity from the East: iDest magazine is the new guard of Chinese independent print magazines

Until a few years ago, independent magazines were rare in China. The first magazines to establish themselves in China and gain a broader following were well-known “mainstream” publications by big publishers, such as Vogue, Elle, T magazine, and so forth. However, in the diverse and rapidly changing world of Chinese fashion, new media are emerging as a reflection of the desire to use magazines to spread aesthetic ideas and creativity around the globe. This attitude is exemplified by iDest Magazine.

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In 2019, photographer Ye Fei and stylist SueLynne began a collaboration to publish a magazine that combined words and images. Despite its relatively higher price, iDest offers readers a thick, high-quality print filled with inspirational content, making its value evident.

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Many readers appreciate iDest’s keen eye for aesthetics, which can be summed up in a few words: bold yet not eccentric, comfortable yet not dull, and able to be both classic and ahead of its time.

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Let us take an issue of this magazine to highlight its distinctive features. The iDest cover of issue 8 places special emphasis on local Chinese designers, including YIRANTIAN, SHUSHU/TONG, Rui and Louis Shengtao Chen. This celebration of their success, which is starting to wield considerable influence globally, is palpable. While iDest doesn’t pigeonhole itself into a unique Chinese style, its content and visuals are gently illuminated by Chinese culture and surroundings. This contributes to the new generation with a fresh way of expression. 

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iDest has the peculiarity of actively seeking collaboration and acknowledging the local fashion industry, whether in terms of consumers or producers. The magazine also discussed how fashion weeks and related events are becoming more frequent and inclusive in China, with showrooms, webinars, and exhibitions acquiring attention. This effort made iDest a profound foundation of historical and cultural knowledge for anyone venturing into the field of fashion design.



Alessandra Leporati
Student in the Fashion Styling (Undergraduate) course, Shanghai