These days it seems that in order to be a successful fashion brand, you also need to be a publisher.
For the trendiest brands, this means delving in the world of ‘zines’: rough-and-ready print publications filled with personal essays, artwork and photography that subtly integrates promotional images.
Adidas Originals is the latest to jump aboard with its “September Non-Issue,” launched this week with digital news site, Dazed. According to Dazed, the Adidas Originals zine was designed as the “very antithesis” of the September issue, the thick, ad-heavy tomes put out every fall by major publishers like Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar. “Inspired by the spirit of punk zines and printed ephemera of previous eras, we scrapped the idea of a cover star, cut the trend reports and dropped the celebrity interviews,” Dazed wrote in a post.
Adidas Originals and Dazed featured six notable individuals in the zine, including basketball player Damian Lillard, photographer Campbell Addy and musician, Gaika. It includes short essays on mental health, personal style and the impact of social media, among others topics.
Zines first rose to prominence in the 1970s with the Xerox machine, which allowed for quick duplication and soon served as outlets for widespread political dialogue, music critique and culture discussion. Now they’ve been adopted by brands as a promotional tool and remain popular for their “counter-culture roots and DIY ethos,” according to Racked.
The Adidas move is a nostalgia play for a brand that is currently capitalizing on ’90s-style revival, while simultaneously entering into partnerships with major designers like Alexander Wang. The zine will be available at no cost both online and in print and will be distributed through the rest of the fall and winter.
This isn’t Adidas’ first zine. It previously worked with influencer Lotte Andersen on a zine for its Stella Sport line, a collaboration with designer Stella McCartney. The limited edition publication centered on female empowerment and featured articles on women’s sports and DIY projects.
The Adidas initiative also comes on the heels of VFiles launching a publication of its own this summer, chronicling the challenges of growing up through art and style. The idea for the quarterly publication came as a means to repurpose the submissions to VFiles’s crowdsourced fashion show, founder Julie Anne Quay told Glossy in July.
“The whole idea was to showcase all these photographers and kids on VFiles and that we see every day doing amazing things, and give them an opportunity to see their work in print,” Quay said.
Celebs are into it, too: Kanye West has zines that serve as a teaser for pending fashion lines. In June the performer launched his second zine in advance of his Yeezy Season 2 footwear line, a publication that sold for $80 — a lofty cost given his already steeply priced items, including shoes that sell for upwards of $600.
Other brands, including Calvin Klein have also joined the zine trend. In February, Calvin Klein released a zine in partnership with Justin Bieber who served as the face of CK before his “Purpose” world tour. The limited edition publication included outtakes from his underwear shoots.
“This is how these kids see the world. Some of it might be dark, but you don’t want to edit someone’s vision, and I think that’s the strength of the whole thing,” Quay said.