Paper Magazine may be celebrating its 30th anniversary, but it’s looking forward, not back.
The magazine’s September issue, which marks the anniversary, has been reimagined for a new digital native generation. The theme of the issue is “Original Gangstas,” those who’ve moved culture forward and left a stamp on fashion, music, entertainment and lifestyle, changing their given fields while staying true to themselves. The issue profiles 40 OGs, including Patti Smith, Dolly Parton, Danny Bowien, Rick Owens, Rei Kawakubo, Cindy Sherman, Alice Waters, Jeffrey Deitch, Kehinde Wiley and Sarah Lerfel.
This story first appeared in the August 11, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“We looked for OGs of the future and classic OGs,” said Kim Hastreiter, co-editor. “Certain brands are OG. A radical Brooke Candy felt like a future OG.” Candy, a rapper, singer and former stripper, appears on one of two September covers; Courtney Love is on the other.
Once a hip broadsheet for the downtown set, the September issue, Paper’s biggest, will have more than 200 pages. Circulation remains flat with last year at 150,000. Since February, Paper has tripled its Tumblr and Instagram traffic, platforms that allow the brand to connect with young people. Its Web traffic has nearly doubled in the last three months and should reach one million uniques per month by September.
With 70 ad pages, the September issue has attracted new brands such as DKNY, Lanvin, Tom Ford and Burberry. “We’re giving them an environment,” said David Hershkovits, co-editor. “We have a plan to grow the business. The enormous potential of the digital era is giving us a real opportunity to scale. Because of technology, we can reach an audience in a bigger way.”
“The redesign will look extremely different,” chief creative officer Drew Elliott said. “All the sections are new.” The magazine will have a new custom-drawn logo that harks back to 1984, has been modernized for the redesign and will appear big and bold in different colorations depending on the cover image.
New departments include editorial director Mickey Boardman’s questionnaire, which he’ll administer to a different designer over lunch. Shut Up, the front of the book section, is about staff obsessions. “This is where we connect the dots and talk about micro-movements,” Elliott said. One such development is the comeback of MCM, noticed on the arms and backs of cool kids. “Simultaneously, #MCM on Instagram has been introduced,” Elliott said. “It stands for Man Crush Mondays. So, we’ll shoot a cool model in an MCM backpack.”
Looking to unlock new revenue streams, Paper is introducing new audiences to old stories. “We pulled a story about ‘Lil Kim by Bell Hooks from 17 years ago,” Hershkovits said. “That piece was one of the top pieces for two weeks. We can take those archives and make them accessible.”
“Because of our OG status as a brand, people have a lot of respect for Paper,” Hastreiter said. “James Jebbia, [an OG] who owns Supreme, won’t let anyone photograph him. He allowed us. Paper is finally taking advantage of the position we’re in. Through social media, we’re pushing out content. We’re excited to take the next step. It’s not being something different. It’s maximizing our DNA. In the past, we were just indies doing a magazine.”
Lately, Hastreiter sees food as a cross-cultural breeding ground. “I love what’s happening in culture and food and sustainability,” she said. “I connect it to fashion. Young kids are concerned about ethics.”
It’s no secret that Paper has a passion for fashion and the magazine is upping the ante. It is shooting in Paris with stylist Catherine Baba and photographed Rodarte at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch. “Arthur Elgort shot his family for us,” Hastreiter said. “His son, Ansel, is a teen idol. We’re taking a fresh approach.”
Paper uses up-and-coming lensmen such as Scott Hawthorne while veteran shooters Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin and Steven Meisel are part of the mix.
“It’s how we put it together,” said Boardman. “It’s the mixing of hip-hop and fashion and socialites and hangers on. We do it in a very Paper way.” For example, having the 18-year-old fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson photographed by the 85-year-old Victor Skrebneski for a September feature is pure Paper.
Hastreiter is the den mother who rallies the troops. “We love change,” she said. “Change excites us. I’m part of the straddle generation. I love to experiment. I know how to use a typewriter and how to develop film in a closet, but I’m also on Instagram and Tumblr.” If anything’s changed for Hastreiter, “I don’t stay up all night like maybe I once did.
“I look for amazingness,” she said. “I’m a visual person. I love going to different cities. The global potential of finding amazingness in Shanghai or London” is hard to fathom. “If I wasn’t chief bottle washer I could go everywhere — Shanghai, India, Africa. I’m a truffle hunter. I love finding the jewels.”