International Women’s Day: An independent magazine guide
There’s something happening with independent women’s magazines here in London at the moment. Established titles are being joined by newcomers, and a fantastic range of ideas, perspectives and aesthetics are finding their way out to readers.
To mark International Women’s Day, we’ve pulled together a summary of these magazines in their own words, drawing on interviews published here on the Stack site and elsewhere, as well as video and audio, to show why the women’s magazines coming out of London are so exciting right now.
The women featured in The Gentlewoman are never short of fascinating, whether they’re Hollywood stars like Kirsten Dunst or pioneering professionals like robotics engineer Cynthia Breazeal. We asked editor-in-chief Penny Martin how she does it, and her answer was deceptively simple:
“There always has to be somebody with a story, somebody who isn’t completely defined by their past achievements […] somebody who will come close to the photographer and be forthright and opinionated, because so many interviews you read these days, you give yourself a shake and realise they’re not saying anything at all…”
And there’s more where that came from. Read our full interview with Penny, or sit back and gaze at the yellow magnificence of their latest issue:Hotdog magazine
Hotdog is a literary zine featuring all-female contributors across poetry, short fiction and collage. Unable to find their place in the established literary community, founders Megan Conery and Molly Taylor figured they might as well do things their own way; funny, loud and tongue-in-cheek. Here’s Molly on the first issue:
“[…] this issue addresses a lot of the traditional notions of femininity. I love it when Octavia [Bright] says in her poem, ‘Don’t be so guttural in your way of being’. Don’t be so emotional, don’t be so intense: women are often told this kind of thing. But that’s what poetry is for us – it can be really intense and that’s great”
One of our favourite launches of 2015, Ladybeard is a monothematic magazine that tackles one marginalised topic per issue (the first issue focused on sex and the next will explore the mind).
“[We] always loved glossy magazines, but hated the way they made [us] feel, dictating what’s normal and what’s not. Ladybeard is a response to that; it’s a magazine that’s positive and makes you feel good about yourself. It’s not just a women’s magazine, it’s gender fluid and explores lots of different sexualities. The aim [is] to make a magazine that’s genuinely interesting”
Intrigued? Read our interview with the Ladybeard team in full.
The self-titled ‘smart magazine for women’ fills its pages with inspiring women at the top of their game and presents it all with a bright and approachable sheen. Editor-in-chief Danielle Pender spoke to us recently about why she does it, and how she’s expanding her print mission into the new monthly event series, Riposte presents…
“Riposte’s aim has always been to profile brilliant women who have achieved amazing things and I feel like we’ve done that pretty consistently. We want to carry on with that aim, but I also want to look at bigger issues and it feels like hosting the monthly events are a great way to explore ideas, provoke debate and get the audience involved in the conversation”
The events happen every month – read the full interview with Danielle for more details.
Published out of London by a group of British Muslim women, OOMK promotes imagination, creativity and spirituality across its pages. In an interview with Dazed last year, co-founder Rose Nordin had this to say:
“I feel like it’s our responsibility to be honest spiritually, creatively and politically, and this feels like a duty. Mainstream media’s representation of women lacks any multiplicity – it’s a bore and it’s not for us. We feel like we had to make a space away from that noise and we have our own missions”
Founded back in 2010, Oh Comely has carved out something of a cult following. The team experimented last year with expanding off the printed page, creating curated subscription boxes as another way to reach fans.
We visited them during a box-packing session last year and heard about their plans “…to add another layer to the Oh Comely brand. The subject matter of the magazine translates really well into objects, so it’s a way of making the magazine come to life.”
Read the interview in full, and check out the pictures of happy people packing in a lovely sun-filled room.
Praised for their satirical wit and anarchic approach to publishing, Bertie Brandes and Charlotte Roberts are remaking the women’s magazine in their own image and having a lot of fun along the way. They spoke to Vice last year and explained the essence of Mushpit:
“If you like fashion for creativity and not for business, if you think about where stuff comes from and why, if you’re interested in sex, love and beauty – but don’t want to be patronised by adverts for ‘rad swimwear’ or anti-wrinkle BB cream – then read Mushpit.
Read the full interview with Bertie and Char over at Vice, and if you like what you see, book your place for their next issue launch, on 22 March at the magCulture shop.
But the best way to enjoy all these magazines is to read them. Sign up to Stack and we’ll send you a different handpicked magazine every month starting from just £5.50