Fashionable care packages, designed to surprise and delight recipients, continue to enthral industry insiders and consumers alike, especially during the stay-at-home pandemic. The concept has taken off across high and low culture, from designer J.W. Anderson’s ‘show in a box’ concepts for Loewe and his namesake label to the mass-market Fab Fit Fun subscription service.
Enter the magazine in a box: “_____is fun” is a new experiential media project designed to celebrate “slow fashion” from stylist Julie rag, who is based in New York but works internationally. Her co-founders are Eric Shiner, executive director of Brooklyn cultural centre Pioneer Works, and Mick Purzycki, chief executive of Jerry Media. The first edition was art directed by Drew Villani.
“I think that a lot of people are a bit jaded by magazines at the moment because they move at such a fast pace, and the industry moves at such a fast pace, but I just wanted to slow it down,” Ragolia said, explaining that the idea for the title came before the pandemic. “If I think about what’s missing now, in magazines, or media, it’s that aspect of discovery because everything is immediately available.”
The result is a limited edition sleek polycarbonate box, filled with an array of magazines in different shapes and sizes, fold-out posters, stickers and other items. The first issue is loosely about “play.”
The multi-part, three-dimensional format — which recalls Francesca Burns and Christoper Simmonds’ Print magazine, which started in 2017 — isn’t the only unconventional element of the project. The magazine cannot be bought. The first 300 readers, selected by Ragolia and her collaborators, will receive it for free this month. They, in turn, will each select someone to add to the distribution list and receive the second issue as a gift, so the audience for each successive issue will grow.
“It’s a little bit of a redefinition of luxury in the sense that it’s not based on access, or what’s in one’s pocket,” Ragolia said. “It’s based on sharing.”
The first edition has no advertisements but was underwritten by Hermès (which is mentioned in a thank you note to the brand, printed on a small accordion cardstock featuring an editorial with the French luxury giant’s clothing). In the future, Ragolia said the team has plans to add more experiential and participatory elements that can be monetised via brand partnerships.
The business model allows for greater creative freedom than a traditional, advertising-driven fashion magazine, she said, citing a photo series by Craig McDean featuring just one JW Anderson wool puff sleeve coat. Another image series by Vanina Sorrenti focuses on nude models posing with designer fabrics from Dunhill, Bode, Dior and others. It comes in a booklet placed inside a gutted vintage edition of Playboy magazine. “It’s our take on sensuality, and sexuality and intimacy,” Ragolia said.
Contributors to the first edition include photographers Tommy Ton, John Balsom and Michal Chelbin, actor Riz Ahmed, model Hanne Gaby Odiele with husband John Swiatek and artists Saya Woolfalk and Steven Cogle, among others.
“It came from this place of thinking, we all have an idea of what is fun and meaningful to us,” Ragolia said. “So maybe, from that, we can find something that then outwardly grows.”