Girls Allowed

It's an exciting time for indie publishing and as the line-up for this year's Modern Magazine conference is announced, Magculture's Jeremy Leslie picks out of five of the best new magazines made by and for young women. 

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At the first Modern Magazine day in 2013 we presented a panel discussion between the editors of several women’s magazines, a highlight of which was a polite but feisty set-to between The Gentllewoman’s Penny Martin and Harper's Bazaar’s Justine Picardie. The next year Danielle Pender, founder and editor of Riposte presented her ‘magazine for smart women’, and last year Char Roberts and Bertie Brandes from Mushpit demonstrated the personal chemistry that translates into their zine-like Mushpit. The common thread is the growing interest among young woman in making magazines about the issues that concern them. Here are five current magazines that are typical of this growing area of indie publishing.


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Neatly summed up as a mix of Private Eye and J17, Mushpit fuses comic-book humour with its creators’ fashion creds to express unambiguous political views centred around but not limited to feminism. It reflects its creators’ love for and concern about the fashion industry while recording the ups and downs of contemporary life as a twenty-something woman.


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This brand new magazine delivers a more cerebral view of contemporary womanhood. It mixes the personal, poetic and erotic in long-form essays and interviews that view today’s feminism in the context of earlier waves – an interview with Nova editor Irma Kurtz sets the verbal tone, although the striking front cover isn’t quite matched by the visuals inside.


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Football and fashion have been linked before of course, but always from a male perspective – think terrace casuals. This new magazine promises football for The Female Fan, and as well as links to fashion – football talk with stylist Naoko Scintu and designer Kayleigh Walmsley whose dad survived Hillsborough – there’s fandom in the form of a look at the sexualisation of women’s replica kits, an amusing take down of assumptions around the offices rule and a set of player stickers to add to the pages.


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Launched in 2013 by three young Muslim women starting out on creative careers, OOMK (One of My Kind) is a surprising mix of well-researched women’s history, contemporary Muslim life (in the UK and abroad) and the more general daily working reality of trying to make your way in the creative industries. Strongly political without being polemical, the magazine addresses the stresses of being a Muslim in London with wit and humour.


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The glossiest of the five magazines subverts the form, using strong design and production values to produce a contemporary publication that caused a stir with its launch theme, Sex. The outrightly confrontational visuals – check the artfully shot dildo on the front cover – are matched by strong writing throughout its 200 pages. With illustration generally preferred to photography, the result is a bright and positive claiming back of sexual imagery. It’ll be intriguing to see how the team  can build on their success with their next theme, Mind.

The Ladybeard team are among the speakers at Modern Magazine 2016, which takes place on 27 October at Central St Martins, London.

Full details can be found here. Earlybird tickets for professionals and students are available until 30 June 2016.