Although it has been around for some time now, some people may have been surprised when Buffalo Zine won Best magazine at the Stack Awards recently. Not, I hope, because they questioned the decision, but because they simply didn’t know the magazine. We’ve championed it here since the first issue in 2011, and looking back have featured each issue as it was published, but here’s a quick introduction to the project and the latest, sixth, issue.
What makes Buffalo Zine so unique is the way it combines cutting edge fashion work with a healthy disregard for the fashion magazine format. Anyone with an interest in the experimental will get a thrill from the result, it stretches way beyond the fashion world, being as much about the act of making magazines as it is a magazine in its own right.
Every issue takes a different form. From tabloid newspaper to hardback book via mail-order catalogue, each issue is quite different. The launch issue newspaper was a meta magazine, with images of a ‘magazine’ on its pages and handwritten notes critiquing the content; subsequent issues parodied music zines, catalogues and Victorian childrens books.
The success of such ideas rely on their execution, and issue by issue the Buffalo team – led by Adrian Gonzalez- Cohen and David Uzquiza – have hit the perfect note. They manage to call in the best fashion collaborators and big-name contributors while creating a spectacularly inventive context for the work produced.
This shape-shifting approach has its problems, one of which is the lack of a recognition factor. Alongside more readily identifiable, visually defined publications – both in the fashion sector and the broader indie scene – Buffalo Zine loses out. They don’t even have a logo for their publication. Readers have to guess what they’re looking at. This approach makes it all the more powerful for the curious, but leave it easily overlooked.
The latest issue comes in the form of an interiors magazine; six different front covers parody familiar mainstream magazines from Living Etc to World of Interiors via Elle Deco. The covers (above) are all perfectly positioned visually and graphically, not an easy task to manage. It is worth emphasising the point. This kind of parody easily becomes over-done and repetitive. The Buffalo team have an extraordinary ability to deliver just the right degree of spoof without killing the idea dead.
The same intelligent use of typography, layout and editorial sense runs throught the whole issue, while also presenting the latest fashion. With almost 500 pages (‘OUR BIGGEST ISSUE EVER!’) the edition is stuffed with shoots and ideas – ranging from the grand spectacle to the tiny detail. This shoot (below) is made perfect by the inclusion of cheap everyday objects alongside exotic objets d’art.
Adrian notes in his editor’s letter how fashion people find an outlet via interiors, and how he has become bored with fashion and in the process turned to interiors. And the issue is full of people’s real interiors – in that sense it actually is an interiors magazine – they just happen to be peopled with models working their fashion shapes. One example that had me laughing is this story about dressing to match your interior which ends with the model curled up in the fireplace (below). Many of the shoots are like this, highlighting the absurdity of fashion and leaving the reader to decide whether the intent is serious, humorous or a bit of both.
Elsewhere we visit Zandra Rhodes’ penthouse, there’s a shoot inside an branch of IKEA (below) and an anti-modernist shoot based around the idea of hoarding (also below), while The Real Review’s Jack Self offers a think piece about our understanding of ‘interiors’ and the shift from a desire for the standard to the unique. This is one of Buffalo’s key traits; turn from a page of fashion indulgence and find a surprisingly serious reflection on modern life.
The magazine remains one of my current favourites and the only problem I can see going forward is the lack of futher formats to riff on.
Perhaps the most promising direction lies with issue five of the magazine, the one that won the Stack title. Instead of direct parody, that issue looked inwards at the Buffalo team’s studio space and its location to create a more abstract critique of the fashion world.
Read more about that remarkable issue here.