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It is no mystery that the editorial world has been suffering for a long time. People don’t buy magazines because they prefer browsing the Internet and brands are not interested in advertising as much as they did before. But is this really always the case? Whilst big editorial and publishing groups have been closing down printed magazines leaving only their online versions, turning them from monthly to quarterly or shutting them down completely, a niche branch has lately been growing stronger, more influential and also more desirable for advertisers. We are talking about independent magazines.

Just saying the words ‘fashion magazine’ evokes something alluring. One thinks of glamour, exclusive parties, super clothes, travelling first class to fashion weeks and having a front row seat to every show. One thinks of designers at your fingertips, invitations for events all over the world, gala dinners and, above all, power. The power of an influential voice that everyone will want to listen. Basically, one thinks of The Devil Wears Prada. But one is so wrong.

A curious phenomenon took place in Milan between 2011 and 2014. A surprisingly vast number of young professionals, disappointed by the lack of freedom (of money) that they experienced by working for established publications, decided to open their own magazines. Some didn’t survive, but a positive amount of them are actually going strong and, by doing so, they are also somehow bringing new life to the editorial world. But how are they doing this?

We’ve met the editors in chief of three of the most interesting magazines based in Milan – Yara De Nicola and Fabiana Fierotti form Alla Carta, Fabrizio Ferrini from Hunter, and Antonio Moscogiuri from C.a.p. 74024 – to chat about their story and, although their magazines are very different from one another, they share some ideas.

Firstly, they all agreed on the fact that running an independent magazine instead of an established one definitely gives you much more freedom of speech and this is becoming more and more a bonus point both for readers and for advertisers. Fabrizio Ferrini said, “If you compare the boundaries that established magazines have, we clearly are privileged. They aim to earn a lot of money; this automatically puts them in the position of investing a lot. We do not aim to get rich by doing this, therefore we do a lot of selection and only work with the brands we really are interested in and with whom we managed to create some kind of harmony. If we talk about fashion – and by fashion I mean brands that are actually relevant – I am not sure that magazines from big editorial groups are still necessary. Big brands don’t need to appear in magazines with millions of copies sold to masses anymore and neither do upcoming talents. I suppose that if I was a buyer from an avant-garde shop, I would take much more into consideration the opinion of a magazine like ours, which does a great deal of research, instead of what is shown in a magazine which is just so full of commissioned features”.

Secondly, they all insisted on how important it is to be honest, to have your own identity instead of copying someone else’s. The girls from Alla Carta chose to remain focused on their country, Italy, and to promote a contemporary Italian spirit around the world without falling into clichés. In order to do so, they chose conviviality as a starting point, a typically Italian aspect of life. They hold all their interviews during a meal and they encourage photographers to do castings and shoot in Italy. “Let’s say that in the last few years, Italy has been considered somewhat uncool by most of the people in this sector; we want to show that there is quite a lot going on here. Other magazines prefer to copy (or to mock) the style and language of publications from other countries. On the contrary, even though we publish in English, we often try to keep the titles of our editorials in Italian”.

Thirdly, they all agreed on the importance of print even in the super-digital era. None of them doubts that paper is still relevant. All these magazines are printed biannually and this gives the editors the time to do a lot of research and to curate their magazines in detail. At the same time, it commits them to renewing themselves every six months. “Very soon, people will receive a newsfeed directly on their mobile phones in a passive way whereas niche magazines are something which you must actively go and look for,” says Antonio Moscogiuri. “These magazines are connected to the dream of fashion, of art and of beauty in general. Whoever is passionate about fashion or art gets dressed, leaves the house, reaches 10 Corso Como or the Palais de Tokyo and, amongst a full wall of fashion magazines, chooses mine. It is like an encounter. This will undoubtedly remain. It is like going to the cinema instead of watching TV, taking notes on your notebook instead of on your phone, writing a letter instead of an email”.

Here are some of the most interesting points of the various interviews.

Fabrizio Ferrini from Hunter

How would you define the style of Hunter?
Our style is very recognizable also given to the fact that 99 percent of our editorials are commissioned and we actively participate in all the production phases. In general, it is easier to define it by saying what we are not. We are not sexy – many independent magazines, also intellectual ones, focus a lot on sex; we don’t, we are hardly carnal or physical. We also are not romantic; we are more on the essential, clean side. We are not passionate, more like spontaneous. We do sometimes produce pop, colourful contents; I would define them like a sculpture by Jeff Koons, for example, a balloon. You see it and it looks colourful, happy, naïf, but then you look properly and it is rigid, cold and set into a museum. This is our way of being pop.
To whom does Hunter speak?
I can say to whom I would like it to speak. I hope they are young people (between twenty and twenty-five years old) because I would very much like to know that they are interested in printed magazines. The web feeds itself on material from the print and a forty-year-old like me knows and understands the process. If I see a random picture on Instagram, I probably know where it comes from and when it was taken. Whereas most young people who browse Instagram will just see many beautiful images without any kind of caption and they will have no idea about how to place them.
If magazines are the food of the Internet, I would like young people to see this material firstly on paper, as I did for example when I entered a bookshop, saw the first issue of Purple Magazine, decided to buy it and completely fell in love with it. At the same time, since the language we use is sometimes quite specific, I hope there are also people my age who read the magazine, identify themselves with the product because they understand it, and are capable of decoding it.
So you would like people in their early twenties to be attracted by print. But are they?
Often not, because when you have many alternatives you usually choose the cheapest one. Even I buy fewer magazines than I used to do. However, there are magazines that have a temporal value, they are important because they were published in a precise historical period and owning them actually means owning something that documents that period. These magazines become more and more valuable over time. People in their twenties have the perfect age to start creating their own printed ‘treasure’ just as I did in the nineties. There are some magazines that I would never ever give away because they represent fashion history and, at the same time, my own history.
Did you like the last fashion week?
By definition, fashion can’t go wrong because it comes from a request. Everything we see – whether amazing or disgusting – is, theoretically, what we are going to need. Therefore, this fashion week, like every other fashion week, is correct, appropriate. Then it’s up to everyone to choose what to wear. We are not in the fifties anymore, there isn’t only one skirt length or only one type of shoes. There is always a bit of everything.
This kind of definition is certainly very appropriate for contemporary fashion. Often enough, I found myself going to the shows and then complaining about how boring they were. But then again, fashion isn’t supposed to entertain you, for that purpose we have the movies. If I got bored at the fashion shows it just probably means that I find contemporary society quite boring.
What kind of fashion do you feature in your magazine?
As an editorial choice, we ask stylists to work both with mainstream and smaller brands. We don’t pretend to be talent scouters because that is just not us. However, there have been young brands which we pushed and which then became relevant, for example, Sunnei.

Yara De Nicola and Fabiana Fierotti from Alla Carta
Who are the readers of Alla Carta?
Mainly people who work in the fashion and arts field, and people who can afford to buy a magazine that costs at least fifteen euros and who then like to keep it on their coffee table to show to friends. Having a magazine like ours is a kind of status: Alla Carta isn’t the kind of magazine that you read in one day, interviews are sometimes ten pages long.
What is your opinion on the contemporary editorial world, both the mainstream and the independent one?
For the mainstream ones, it is very simply said: those who were not capable of renewing themselves have closed or are closing. Take for example Vogue Italia. When the new editor in chief arrived last year (Emanuele Farneti), he gradually started to readjust the tone of the magazine by, surprisingly enough, bringing it closer to the one used by independent magazines. A lot of major magazines feature, or featured, the kind of language and news that nowadays make much more sense on the web.
For what the independent ones are concerned, I could answer your question by telling you that we keep on selling our old issues, people still order them because they like the themes or they are interested in a specific interview. It’s not by chance that we chose to do a printed magazine instead of simply an online one. Alla Carta literally means ‘To Paper’, it is an ode to print. We liked the idea of a slow, gradual, research process.
Do you see a closer relationship nowadays between fashion and visual arts?
We are just back form the Prada show, where product design artists have been chosen to create fashion accessories. There is now a total mix between arts, they have united in order to better tell their story. We try to do the same in our magazine. Design editorials are never just simple still lives, and fashion editorials are hardly ever just fashion. One of the nice things about having an independent publication is that you don’t necessarily have to fit in a specific scheme, you can be transversal.
Do you have any particular future project?
Alla Carta is everything but a cooking magazine. However, we used the pun (à la carte) in order to create our editorial cut. We also launched a collection of plates, which are for sale on our website and on Our next issue will be released during design week, in that occasion, we will also launch a collection of another – surprise – table accessory.

Antonio Moscogiuri from C.a.p. 74024

How did C.a.p. 74024 start?
It was actually the project of my thesis. I wanted to unite three things I love: art, fashion and pornography. By pornography, I mean the wider world of Eros, of masturbation and of the body. But pornography is also voyeurism and voyeurism is also ‘not minding your own business’. This is typical of small provinces; for this reason, I called the magazine C.a.p. 74024, the zip code of the small province in the South of Italy where I come from, Manduria.
It was important for me to start from something I really love because I am of the opinion that by doing so your project becomes strong and powerful. I really felt a fire inside me, the urge to say something, to deliver a message. A few years later, in 2014, the first issue of C.a.p. was published. I was astonished by the success it had, even because talking about anything erotic in Italy still is taboo. However, we got incredible press coverage from important magazines and daily newspapers. Journalists understood that it wasn’t just another fashion magazine, it wasn’t created for marketing reasons. It was something like a personal work of art. There was a thought behind it. I usually define C.a.p. as a “suggestive pamphlet focused on desire”.
You shot Valeria Golino, a renowned actress and director, for one of your first issues. How did that happen?
That was an incredible story. One night – it was in March –, I saw the movie Miele. I fell in love with her and decided that she was going to be my muse. I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that I had just started the magazine, and that I was only twenty-nine years old. I wrote to the agency that represents Valeria in Rome and I was lucky enough to talk not with the agency owner but with her daughter, Martina, who is my age. This allowed me to be very straightforward. Martina saw the press release of the magazine and decided to talk to Valeria about it and she accepted.
Often, the hardest part of shooting and interviewing famous artists is to convince their agents because the artists themselves are usually very open to new projects. They also started with a dream, a vision.
Yes. While I was interviewing Valeria, I asked her why had she agreed to work with me, and she answered “Everything that is successful has already happened. I want to be part of the things which are happening now”. Then she invited me to Venice Film Festival for the screening of her movie, she said I would bring her luck. That year, Valeria won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress. She was the first woman to ever win it twice – the first one when she was twenty, and the second time being fifty. A few months later my magazine was released and I had the woman everyone was talking about on the cover. She will always remain my uber-muse.
How do you manage to feature fashion and art in your magazine without losing the focus on the Eros?
Well, I always start from what I truly like. For our latest issue, I asked Bruce LaBruce to shoot. He is not remotely a fashion photographer, he is mainly famous for his sex, homosexual, vaguely splatter films. Well, if I think of how much I loved his movies… Of course, working with him for me is pure orgasm. So I meet Bruce, we discuss the project, he actually becomes a part of it, and only at that point, we add the fashion, which, however, comes only after the body.
Lately, I started doing some of the art direction myself because most stylists are obsessed with featuring twenty or more outfits. But the people who buy my magazine are not interested in that. In general, I always try to be as honest and as true to myself as possible. This is my language, this is my style, with all its pros and cons.

Sara Kaufman
Cover photo
Alexandra Serafimovich

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