Paper Magazine cuts deep

Monday, September 30, 2019 - 10:51pm

Emma Chang

Emma Chang Buy this photo

What is Paper Magazine? The simplistic covers leave everything to the imagination. There are no headlines, simply a celebrity’s brooding face and a title for the issue, and that’s it, that’s the cover. Given the industry convention of catchy titles hinting at how to have an orgasm, why does Paper still manage to capture our attention?

Obviously, the magazine’s covers grab attention, but beyond that, what makes them different from other fashion magazines? Among the typical coverage of celebrities and pop culture, the magazine has highlighted Colin Kaepernick’s “Know Your Rights Camp” in a series of ten interviews curated by Kaepernick himself. Though the set of articles was released in August, the magazine still highlights all ten through a tab on their homepage. Rather than letting Kaepernick’s conversation lapse, like most outlets tend to do, Paper has made sure their readers are reminded of these issues every time they’re looking for the latest fashion trends.

Or maybe it’s the people behind the magazine that keep us hooked. Kim Hastreiter and Drew Elliott started the New York-based publication in 1984 and for the past 35 years it has managed to stay relevant. Hastreiter, according to a profile by The New York Times, is an editor like no other. She’s one of the most influential people in the city, but that doesn’t stop her from eating dinner with her intern, or whoever she senses might be the next big thing in art. She’s a flexible personality spanning all aspects of culture in the city, a persona that manifests itself in the magazine. But she’s not alone. Drew Elliott, her co-founder, was the one who wanted to create the Kim Kardashian cover that would eventually bring 50 million views to the website in one day. Elliott has been quoted as saying he’d sooner look at Disney than Vogue when looking for ways to expand the brand (a sharp observation, considering the media event that was Spider-Man having to leave the MCU this past summer).

Even as the magazine intends to remain cutting-edge, Paper is still a fashion and contemporary media outlet. As such, coverage of Kylie Jenner’s latest illness and Bella Thorne’s new porn award are mixed in with West Coast artists exploring the importance of accepting our bodies. Striking this balance between the “pop” and “culture” of a pop culture publication is what sets Paper apart from magazines like Cosmopolitan or even Vogue. With a separate tab simply labeled “Art,” Paper doesn’t force its readers to sift through mounds of articles and graphics. Instead, it’s an easy grab straight from the homepage.

Whatever your thoughts are about Paper Magazine, there’s no doubt that the publication knows how to captivate an audience. From their enigmatic editors to a diverse level of content, the role Paper plays in the world of fashion is pivotal — it puts activists, celebrities and brand-new artists on the same level. Paper endeavors to tear down whatever arbitrary walls we encounter in most pop culture publications, instead opting to create a world where everyone is anyone and an assistant can rub elbows with the likes of Rihanna.