If you ask me how I normally value a magazine, it’s by its disposable factor. Weekly glossies with poor journalism ranks low (unless it’s really bad that it’s worth keeping to inform my future self that such publication once existed). In many cases, magazines with matte covers hold more value, though they damage easily during attempts to peel the price tag that newsagents carelessly stick.
Thankfully, no unsightly price tags came with my copy of PORT magazine. The launch issue calls itself ‘The Intelligent Magazine For Men’, but it’s a nice read for non-men, too. Let’s look at the topics covered.
Aside from interviews and documentations of places, a sizeable chunk of the magazine talks about design-related matters like furniture and fashion (things need to be sold, after all).
PORT is heavy on contributor-generated content. In fact, you wouldn’t be able to tell who are the resident writers and photographers from the contributors in the imprint.
Dan Crowe, the Editor-in-Chief, says he looks highly of certain magazines from the 1960s that are different, yet accessible.
Section breakers is an opportunity for the art director to play with the page, but PORT is keeping it safe. Here for the section INITIATIONS, an excerpt from the forthcoming pages appears along with table of contents. Note the custom-made typeface Port One being used in both the font and the section breaker title.
PORT has asked several people what secret do they know of a city. Watercolour illustrations of that secret corner by Dan Williams help fill up the page.
Personally, I feel the fashion spread for Spring Essentials comes off as rather weak. By the styling and photography, one could mistake it for ‘Autumn Essentials’. To show designer fashion in a way that looks like a street style blogger might have shot it isn’t engaging. Maybe it’s just me; I’m very used to fashion spreads that have a theme to it, shot like a photo essay.
While my favourite colour is green, blue is always a better colour when it comes to clothes. This indigo-laden shoot would have been better if it was printed on glossy paper; the matte stock did nothing to distinct the various shades of blue garments.
But it isn’t all that bad with this highly graphic spread of accessories under scrutiny, shot by Robin Broadbent and styled by David St John-James.
PORT doesn’t just show the goods, but discusses it, too. Here, clothing designer Margaret Howell evaluates the duffle coat (the one featured isn’t her design though, it’s by duffle coat-specialist Gloverall).
Just like the Spring Essentials spread in the STYLE BRIEFING section, the DESIGN BRIEFING section starts off with a grab bag of the season’s latest releases. Nothing more than an eye-over here.
PORT displays its Wallpaper* instincts in this Made in Italy spread.
Matt Willey, one of PORT’s co-founders writes in admiration of the form and function of a percolator. He sees coffee as a warm invitation to start the day (Sunday, specifically). Without a percolator, he will be lost.
Text takes up more space than images in the COMMENTARY section. You can find poems inserted amongst the essays on pop culture and society. Frank Skinner’s piece on staying indoors is an easy read that can put a smile on your face, and while Janine di Giovanni’s identity-questioning essay does the same, it may leave you with a tear in your eye as well.
Following a fiction piece written exclusively for PORT by Will Self are six well-written feature articles, among them the challenges faced by French actor Tahar Rahim at work, a visit to Nike’s research lab in Beaverton, Oregon, and Daniel Day-Lewis’ encounters with the violent realities in Gaza. Every article begins with a black page, title set in MFred, another typeface created exclusively for PORT by Matt Willey. At time of writing, PORT has published its sixteenth issue and no longer calls itself a ‘men’s magazine’, but rather a ‘style magazine’ that is ‘made for the modern reader’. I haven’t gotten the chance to read PORT past issue two due to its rarity, but from what I can see on the website, the magazine remains male-oriented. And since it’s the first issue, we can forgive them for making typos in page 121 for ‘Mathmatics’ and page 73 for ‘bolier suit’.
Further reading: Interview with Dan Crowe, by Protein
Issue: 1, Spring 2011
Editor-in-Chief: Dan Crowe
Cover photography: Brigitte Lacombe
Cover price: GBP6 / USD14.99