TAKING THE PLUNGE INTO PAPER

In recent years there’s been a dearth of good magazines that aren’t aimed at high fashionistas or plummeting the depths of lad mag high street payola. Beyond the Far Eastern publications you’d be hard-pressed to find anything particularly wearable.

Mr Kan’s recent blog post about the possibility of some background dealings in relation to column inches in those magazines raises some interesting points, but still, I’d sooner have access to publications with that kind of content, payola or not, than the increasingly scant newsagent shelves. I live for print.

I used to want to forge a career in print, but realised I lacked the written skills to make the necessary mark to pay rent (though some wannabe scribes get by regardless), many of the senior staffers were upper-middle class twits rather than the grizzled journos I’d expected, talking about their press pass visit to Creamfields is if they were Michael Herr on assignment and that clearly that monitor I was gawking at rap news, porn and footwear on all day was going to obliterate paper one day. Thus the dream was over.

Two publication ideals are the advertorial-heavy magalogue style that just makes me want to CONSUME, as spotted in great numbers on Tokyo store shelves and something information heavy, Like Free & Easy or Lightning (Mr Jason Jules once mentioned that he’d asked Free & Easy for an anglo-variant and got a pleasant, but negative response), that doesn’t skimp on the pictures. I want an English translation of Warp and Sense too, as I know I’m not privy to some useful information. But in English language. Antenna takes a more stylised stab at the catalogue format, and Complex fills that gap too – don’t pretend you don’t browse it.

But when it comes to information-heavy, there’s been few takers that weren’t foreign language. Too often I browse Monocle for the fashion section and possibly to look at a slick mouthwash bottle before wishing they’d just go all-out and drop a quarterly fashion spinoff riddled with Beams, Slowear and Gitman to save me the wasted pages.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that INVENTORY filled that gap. First let me explain the element of surprise – h(y)r and latterly INVENTORY’s sites look elegant, and the content is always strong, dropping paragraphs on products, offering plenty of opinion, but blogging and putting to paper are two different beasts, even if they’re both wearing a nice fitting chambray shirt. Online breeds dirty habits, like the power to corect correct, and a more engaging style than a quick fix newsify. We’re supposed to cheer the foray into print, but a leap from blog to a perfect-bind isn’t necessarily something to encourage. Sometimes it’s nice to be proven wrong.

There’s more than a spot of Monocle’s gaze in here; but it’s for the better – the fonts, the layout, asides on columns and importantly, the attention-to-detail, down to the proofreading. No, this isn’t that painstaking reference library trawl through the archives that Free & Easy offers – it’s a westernized approach to fanaticism but it’s still unnervingly in-depth.

Ryan Willms’s editorial pick is sharp – given the electronic realm’s speedy appropriation and namecheck of brands and designers I’d forgotten to kick back and learn about their processes and philosophies. INVENTORY does a good job of putting faces to names. Chris Allen’s design is precise and aesthetically pleasing, and Simon Roe’s fashion direction is superior – he can turn out a great article too, as the Nigel Cabourn piece attests. Simon’s brief LVC breakdown is bang-on too. Heed his shrinkage advice – I offer that warning as an owner of one miniature pair of 1947 501s and a hiked up pair of the 1933s for good measure.

As everybody hops aboard the increasingly wobbly workwear and ‘life pieces’ bandwagon there’s bound to be a reaction. As contradictory as it sounds, the commodification of timelessness from everyone and their mum gives it a shelflife that’s bound to send the fairweather hopping back to prints and camo by 2012, or even some comedy futurism, but INVENTORY reads and feels like it could certainly sustain the highs and lows of clothing crazes.

Ryan and the crew deserve props – not token good effort props, but real ones for making a print magazine that’s a cover-to-cover read and a fully-formed accompaniment rather than a lift from an already successful online entity. My expectations for issue two are sky-high. It isn’t cheap, but then neither’s printing. Weigh up that expenditure from that hefty stack of the must-have unreads in your front room and £14 starts to seem quite reasonable.

I’m also eagerly awaiting issue two of  Rig Out from Glenn and his northern crew. For the uninitiated, the north of England is where jacket and gear fixation most certainly isn’t a flash in the pan either. We soft southerners are just catching up. It’s all about the clobber.

Shamelessly heisted from Glenn’s Twitter

Then there’s Dave Eggers and his band of brainboxes giving a paper-cut middle finger to print’s naysayers by putting out the latest McSweeney’s, as a one-off newspaper, the San Francisco Panorama, down to the funny pages. That issue, which sounds remarkable, went on sale yesterday ($5 from vendors!) in SF, and I’m fiending for its UK arrival. The front news will be out of date, but the promise of, “an unprecedented visual guide to making the perfect bowl of ramen by Momofuku’s celebrated chef, David Chang” is enough to give me sleepless nights.

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