Magazine of the week: Niijournal #1

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Niijournal (or simply Nii) is a new fashion and culture title from London that aims to ‘enlighten and educate about cultural and global issues surrounding people of colour.’

The models featured inside are mostly black as are the writers, and contributions come from Ghana, New York, Canada and England. Editorials dig into the East London music scene, shoots energetically explore notions of identity and subvert and interrogate stereotypes, and Nii also features styling and pictures by creatives Ib Kamara, Devin N Morris and PC Williams.

‘We are here to educate, not irritate,’ reads Nii’s emphatic tagline.

Niijournal first took shape when publisher, photographer and Central Saint Martins student Campbell Addy was working with the founder of 80s creative collective ‘Buffalo’, Jamie Morgan, and was inspired by the way that a group of talented friends were making work and art together. Being of Ghanaian decent but born and raised in Crydon, Campbell’s sense of identity also felt unstable: ‘In the UK I’m not British but ‘Black British’, and in Ghana I am British, not African. So who am I?’ he writes in his editorial. Combining this question of identity with the spirit of Buffalo, Niijournal emerged as a magazine-shaped journey of discovery for the young editor and photographer.

For the project, Campbell travelled to New York City and was inundated with conversations around the topic of ‘#blacklivesmatter’, realising how the day-to-day battle of African Americans is wholly different to that he’d experienced living in London. In Ghana, Campbell describes being ‘met with shock as I projected a Western view of what Africa is supposed to be’. Shoots and editorial account these journeys – Nii is both a collective, but it’s also a kind of personal diary: the connections that Campbell makes on his travels inform both his and the reader’s understanding of identity, race and colour.

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Stylist Ib Kamara, who hails from Sierra Leone but is now London-based, expresses his sense of identity through subverting historicised masculine stereotypes (above). Another shoot by Campbell, styled by Aisha Jimoh, takes a quiet and subtle approach to selfhood (above).

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In between the photo-heavy pages are short essays that delve into the mag’s themes, like an exploration into the formation of role models by Karen Dasoar (above). Quick Q&As with young black creative youth in London are scattered throughout (also above). Nii’s leading feature, called ‘Young, Gifted & Black’, is a selection of profiles of East London musicians (below) – although the magazine explores cities and places around the world, you can tell that the heart of the collective resides in the British capital. All of the casting is credited to the ‘Nii agency’ – as well as his photographic work, Campbell launched the male modelling and casting studio in June this year, aiming to celebrate a diverse range of talent by representing an eclectic, unconventional range of looks, ages, body types and backgrounds.

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The idea of inclusivity is regularly discussed and debated in the fashion industry on platforms like Dazed DigitalNiijournal makes it obvious that this debate is one that needs to happen more, with a vivid, very personal and insightful sense of time and place, in the worlds of independent magazine publishing.

Editor: Campbell Addy

niijournal.com

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