Free reading period: A look at 8 must-read independent mags and zines

Magazine: Rostam
Location: Toronto
M.O: Named after a Persian mythological figure representing masculinity and strength, Rostam was originally intended to be an online arts and culture magazine for men. That is until the first web issue went viral and editor Sahar Nooraei began thinking about the potential of print. Fast-forward to 2010, when Nooraei discovered two graphic designers who meshed with her vision, Martina Hwang and Bartosz Gawdzik, and the shift from web to print was set. Readers will notice the current issue contains editorials shot mostly by young female photographers; Nooraei wants to offer a new and rare perspective on menswear. Areas as diverse as fashion, music, fine arts, cinema and architecture are covered, with a focus on international and Canadian talents. The current issue features New York label Duckie Brown, Swedish architect Johannes Norlander and Canadian videographer Kevin Calero.
Availability: [email protected]

Magazine: L_A_N
Location: London, UK
M.O: The future is now for L_A_N. The biannual magazine combines all things provocative, strange and sci-fi. The cyber world and city centre—familiar territory for a young urban audience—are made surreal via dazzling images (think amateur digital rendering of a computer screen against a pornographic backdrop) created by boundary-pushing artists and designers. Published both digitally and in print, L_A_N can be accessed globally on computer screens or is available for purchase if you’d like to flip through just like old times.

Magazine: Bad Day
Location: Toronto
M.O: Launched by photographer/videographer Eva Michon in 2007, Bad Day is a mini culture-crossing guide to the best in visual arts, music, film and design, offering new perspectives on today’s creative climate. Notable contributors from past issues of the quarterly include filmmaker Sofia Coppola, artist Michael Snow and musician Owen Pallett. Pick up Issue 11 for fresh points of view from cultural influencers, such as artists David Shrigley and Tauba Auerbach, as well as director Mike Mills (Beginners) on the cover.
Availability: Canadian Centre for Architecture (1920 Baile Street, Montreal, 514-939-7026,, The Drake General Store (114 Queen Street West, Toronto, 416-531-5042,

Magazine: Picnic
Location: Tel Aviv, Israel
M.O: What motivates inspiration? How does meaning transcend an image? For Picnic editors Meir Kordevani, Adi Englman and Toony Navok the answer is simple: What you see is what you get. The biannual publication features images—and no text—with the aim of leaving interpretation in the eyes of the viewer. As a result, reading an issue of Picnic is more like a straight-up gallery visit, the spreads independent of textual directions or narratives. Volume five features Robin Moore’s 1980s photographs of high school students playing with string during an alternative math lesson, as well as a colourful collection of gemstone images from a British businessman.
Availability: American Apparel (Select locations,

Magazine: Virgine
Location: New York
M.O: Before its launch in June, there wasn’t too much buzz surrounding Virgine. Then, that infamous interview of Azzedine Alaïa badmouthing Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour was released and the magazine was put on the map. Ironic, considering that industry gossip plays no part in its content. At its core, Virgine is about design and art; what’s new and pure, as the title suggests. Editor-in-chief Ryan Yoon features established design leaders alongside up-and-comers and focuses on design merit rather than notoriety. Alongside Alaïa, the current issue also features an interview with artist John Baldessari, a piece on hairstylist Laurent Philippon and a Madonna-inspired photo spread.

Magazine: Worn Fashion Journal
Location: Toronto
M.O: Worn Fashion Journal avoids a traditionally trend-based formula by creating a platform for thought-provoking opinions that isn’t time or location specific—or tainted by the demands of advertisers. Described as a cross between pop-culture and academic writing, the articles aren’t pretentious or theoretical. Expect a diverse array of material from Issue 12, including thoughts on prints, the identity of queer men and their clothing, and everything you need to know about Lurex. Add photos that don’t represent a static notion of beauty, and it becomes clear that what matters for Worn is the individual pleasure of dressing and its history.
Availability:, Magic Pony (680 Queen Street West, Toronto, 416-861-1684,

Magazine: Fashematical
Location: Sydney, Australia
M.O: The fashion world has a reputation for being full of serious no-nonsense types. Images of unapproachable, sunglass-wearing editors in front rows or hordes of scowling models stomping down a runway still reign throughout public consciousness. Fashematical offers a playful and twisted take on the industry for those fashion observers who’ve got a hankering for some humour. Jonathan Zawada began the zine following the success of his blog, Fashematics. Issue two features dynamic illustrations of your favourite looks from recent shows worn by lifeless zombies and robots in place of models. We love the cartoonish comic book gore mixed with precious, high-end pieces, giving literal meaning to “I’d die for that Prada bag.”

Magazine: Mule
Location: Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
M.O: Started in 2002 by three University of Tennessee Chattanooga students, Mule’s aim is to record innovative projects at the local, national and international levels. Although focused primarily on art, music and fashion, the magazine also features a diverse range of topics. Anything that sparks the interest of the editors is fair game—be it young farmers or Eritrean culture. An interest in rural centers, less likely to get exposure, means that lesser known creators are treated with as much importance as bigger names, like director Harmony Korine or musician Tom Verlaine. Fashion-wise, Mule’s most recent issue features a pastoral spread profiling the sustainable clothing line Frei Designs. Keep an eye on upcoming issues for an extended fashion and photography section.

Magazine: Bon
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
M.O: What separates Swedish publication Bon from its counterparts is its commitment to feel out what motivates the forces behind fashion through long interviews and roundtables with the most influential people in the industry. Whether it be Karl Lagerfeld on modernity, Rei Kawakubo on Japanese design or discussions featuring the likes of Louise Wilson, Kelly Cutrone and Alex Fury, Bon extracts the skinny at length from fashion insiders on the topics that matter most to them. The latest issue features insight from designer Phillip Lim as well as a roundtable including Fashionista’s Leah Chernikoff and writer Glenn O’Brien.

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