The homegrown mags you should have been reading this year

As Britain’s indie publishing scene hits new heights, we celebrate the titles providing progressive and alternative voices that rival everything we thought we liked to read

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Tavi Gevinson Eleanor Hardwick polyester zine
Tavi GevinsonPhotography Eleanor Hardwick

Alright, let’s be honest. When it comes to the publishing scene, the Brits have it under lock and key. Not only have we already enjoyed a strong few years of UK based independent mags and zines, but this year, we gained an even more diverse selection of voices, all providing alternatives to everything we thought we knew about what we liked to read. From music to art, fashion, and culture, we are rounding out the year with enough material to keep you sane over the Xmas break. Here is our pick of some of our best...

POLYESTER

Ione Gamble’s Polyester turned one this year and it also produced its fourth and fifth issues. While issue 4 far exceeded any expectations, fronted by Tavi Gevinson, Gamble found time to host zine workshops for institutions like the Tate’s Late program and did more talks than we can count. By the time issue 5 had its release, Poly had cemented its place in a progressive corner of the world that – while glitter-spangled and pretty in pink – continues to tackle serious issues of representation by flying the flag for queer and female-identifying communities.

THE MUSHPIT

Indie mags have been kicking themselves since Mushpit’s inception, a half-decade ago. Now in its ninth installment, Bertie and Char summed up Britain’s dire 2016 political climate with “The Crisis Issue”. Fronted by an archive shot from photographer Vinca Petersen and stuffed with quizzes, “advertisements”, a centre-fold, fashion shoots, and a lonely hearts classifieds page, Mushpit reminds us that our generation is a helluva lot more clued up than those actually in charge.

SORT

The one thing zines have on the mainstream publishing industry is that they strive to create a universe for their readers to exist in. And perhaps no one does it better than SORT – the brainchild of Joseph Delaney and Matt King. Alongside DJ sets, merchandise, and filmmaking, they found time to publish the second issue of their zine. Enter a world of bondage, fetish, fashion and art which, hands down, beats Santa’s Grotto...

In the meantime, Delaney and King will be DJ’ing on New Year’s Eve at Dalston’s Passage. Free before 12, info here

gal-dem

If there’s one name that has hit the publishing scene faster and heavier than a freight train it’s gal-dem. Where-oh-where to begin... In September, Liv Little’s online platform found new life in its first printed issue – of course, it’s long sold out. From there, she was invited onto Women’s Hour to discuss her growing community, but perhaps gal-dem’s most powerful moment was taking over the V&A for a late night of DJs, fashion shows, talks, and a general appreciation of voices that are far too often excluded from major art institutions. That one night set in motion a powerful shift and we can’t wait to see where gal-dem takes us next.

HARD EARS

Just when we thought we were winding down on a year of incredible homegrown publishing, photographer Ronan Mckenzie dropped Hard Ears. Admittedly, it’s more book than mag, Mckenzie teamed up with, in her words, “anyone”. Explaining to SHOWstudio, it “doesn’t matter if you’re really old or really young, or your work is super new or your work’s not new, it’s just about if your work’s great and you’re relatable”. A push back against the media’s increasingly unsustainable thirst for “youth culture”, social followings and advertising briefs, issue 1 featured favourites such as Ib Kamara, SORT’s Joseph and Matt, BRICK’s Hayley Brown, Glenn Kitson, Cieron Magat, Nick Knight... okay, honestly just check out the full list here and grab a copy before it’s too late.

PLACES + FACES

More of a worldwide phenomenom than anything confined to British borders, you’d be hard pushed to find a party that one-half of P+F’s, Ciesay, isn’t either DJ'ing, under his AuxGod alias, photographing, or just partying at. I’ll keep it brief: he’s jumped on tour with Chance The Rapper, went Down Under for Sydney’s first installment of NY fashion week export, MADE, and produced a series of parties and a zine for Selfridge’s celebration of Shakespeare, which paired artists and designers such as Lil Simz and Caitlin Price and James Massiah with Liam Hodges. Alongside collaborator Soulz, the duo continue to sell-out their eponymous merch in regular online drops, and – the reason you’re reading this list – publish issue 3 of their zine. Next year, it’s an easy assumption to say they’ll tick off world domination too.

BRICK

When your first issue is double-fronted by Wiz Khalifa and ScHoolboyQ, some people might say that’s beginner’s luck (it wasn’t, it was obviously super, super hard work). But then when you follow it up with your second issue that sees Vince Staples and A$AP Ferg as your cover stars, then you’ve pretty much called your place as one of music’s most exciting indie mags. The best bit? Issue 3 is imminent.

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