Kinfolk and the Long, Slow Read

kinfolk2Ah, Kinfolk…the epitome of the lifestyle magazine. When it launched in 2011, founded by a quartet of 20-somethings who embodied a lifestyle that’s now emulated on nearly every Pinterest board on the planet, it set a new standard in indie publishing.

Five years on, and Kinfolk is billing itself as bigger and bolder, with a new design.

“Billed as a ‘bigger, bolder Kinfolk’ the US magazine has not only increased in size but added a range of new sections, feature formats and paper stocks inside,” writes Mark Sinclair in Creative Review. “Changes beyond the look and feel of the print title also include a new website by UK studio Six and an editorial board (consisting of designers, architects and theorists), alongside a new office and gallery space in the centre of Copenhagen by Norm Architects.”

The magazine clearly hit a sweet spot in the zeitgeist, and has captivated a strong following of 80,000 paid subscribers. The publishing team aims to advocate “slow living,” and offer a “peaceful place for readers” as an alternative to the digitally frenzied world we all inhabit. Ironically, it’s found enormous success on those very digital channels and launched a slew of similar intentionally folksy imitators.

And that’s just fine with the publishers.

“There have been many imitators, but most of them are no longer around or publishing with such infrequency they’re barely a blip on my radar,” notes co-founder Steven Gregor.

“To my mind, it’s one of a handful of indie magazines that deserve continued recognition and praise. Kinfolk represents the very best – and most successful – of indie magazines. It’s a true indie publishing success story,” Gregor continues.

To be sure, Kinfolk has its detractors, including Tim Murphy of the New York Times who stated Portland “may be out-twee’d itself.”  The brand has come under fire for what the publishers calls an “unintentional” lack of diversity in its models, and is often parodied for the somewhat unrealistic lifestyle it aims to portray.

Still, for many, it’s a far more realistic life than what’s portrayed in the high fashion or luxury magazine world, with its $5,000 purses and 4” heels.

Perhaps that’s why it works; this is a lifestyle many of its readers not only want to live, but can actually achieve on some level. As a lifestyle enabler, Kinfolk is knocking its flannelled-covered self out of the park.