I've been on a fashion magazine kick lately. Now, I'm not talking Vogue (no offense Anna, I love you), I'm talking about those $15, glossy, unfamiliar gems that populate cramped magazine bodegas all over the city.
But $15? For a magazine? Why would anyone pay that much? Well, my personal reason is that it's an inexpensive alternative to shoe shopping and yet still satisfies my fashion appetite. But honestly, I really think these magazines are worth the price tag and more.
One of my favorites is Lula, from the UK. Thumbing through an issue over the summer, I was taken by the gorgeous photography and quickly paid the $15.99 price. I enjoyed every page. I couldn't put my finger on it, but somehow it felt like a different experience than reading Elle or Vogue or even the Seventeen magazines I devoured in Middle School. It felt more like an art book. And then I realized. It was missing advertisements.
(Photography by Jam, Lula Magazine, Issue 9, p. 33)
(Photography by Frederike Helwig, Lula Magazine, Issue 9, p. 54)
In the latest issue of Lula I picked up, there are 13 ads. THIRTEEN. And they are only at the front and back of the magazine. That leaves over 200 pages of uninterrupted fashion. As a result, the themes of each issue seem clearer and you avoid that awkward experience of skipping over a spread because you think it's an ad.
Most magazines split their content 50/50 between ad and edit. All magazines, whether they're your college's alumni publication or The New Yorker, rely on advertisements (and not sales) in order to make money. So, I guess ads are a necessary evil, especially when classics like Gourmet are folding . . . Still, it sure is nice to get though a whole magazine without seeing Madonna in Louis Vuitton "bunny ears."
(Photography by Jo McCaughey, Lula Magazine, Issue 9, p. 63)
Not only does Lula have a 5 to 95 ad to edit ratio, the photos and stories are varied and engaging. They even have spreads shot by famous photographers like Ellen Von Unwerth— one of my favorites. The most recent issue focuses on redheads, and is filled with women crowned in red, whether natural or not. It's a fun exploration that travels from Grace Coddington to silent movie star Alice White to Karen Elson. I'm not sure how they continue to put out issue after issue with so few ads, but I hope they continue to do so. Maybe that high price helps...
(Photography by Nicole Nodland, Lula Magazine, Issue 9, p. 121)
(1967 Photo of Grace Coddington in Missoni, Lula Magazine, Issue 9, p. 129)
(Photography by Damon Heath, Lula Magazine, Issue 9, p. 146)
(Photography by Ellen Von Unwerth, Lula Magazine, Issue 9, p. 158)
(Photography by John Lindquist, Lula Magazine, Issue 9, p. 193)
(Photography by Sandra Freij, Lula Magazine, Issue 9, p. 207)
(Photography by Sandra Freij, Lula Magazine, Issue 9, p. 210)
If you're looking for magazines in New York, I highly recommend Around the World on 40th Street, directly south of Bryant Park. Not only do they carry every magazine imaginable (In Trend Embroidery, anyone? only $59.95), they also have back issues. Just keep in mind that 10 magazines at $15 a pop will put a dent in your shoe budget.
(All images scanned from Lula Magazine)