Kinfolk: The Last Lifestyle Magazine

kinfolk (1)How a painfully reserved 29-year-old ex-Mormon from rural Canada bucked the “slow death” of print to create the lifestyle magazine of the decade.

“It’s difficult to define a lifestyle magazine, but…you know it when you see it,” writes Kyle Chayka in Racked, adding that “reading a lifestyle magazine is a way to learn about a particular way of life and participate in it at the same time.”

Lifestyle magazines are nothing new; Chayka cites several examples from years, decades – and centuries – previous. They serve not only to inform but “they fulfill the deeper purpose of helping us define ourselves.”

They offer a self-selected tribe mentality if you will, so essential to our sense of belonging and well-being in this mass market world. One such title is Kinfolk, launched in 2009 at what was arguably a fantastically risky time to start a new magazine.

It has thrived, not only in print but as a multi-media brand.

“Over the past five years, Kinfolk’s signature aesthetic has birthed a sprawling empire. Its umbrella includes translated international editions, clothing lines, a boutique creative agency, and a new print title launching later this year, as well as two books, The Kinfolk Table and The Kinfolk Home, that have sold hundreds of thousands of copies,” Chayka explains.

“The last lifestyle magazine to arrive before multimedia social networks truly took hold, it’s equally relevant in print and on-screen. On Instagram, #kinfolk and related hashtags like #liveauthentic collect millions of posts from loyal fans who style their own lives in the magazine’s image.”

Kinfolk and others of its ilk (see the sidebar in Chayka’s piece for a good list of titles to explore) share a minimalist artistic sensibility and luxurious tone that help readers discover and connect with their idea of the “good life.”

“The successful lifestyle magazine is a mirror that reflects the trends of our times back at us, only a little prettier, more polished, and less complicated,” Chayka notes.

The article offers an in-depth and fascinating look at the evolution of magazine as a lifestyle; the role of Mormons in the lifestyle blogging crescendo of 10 years ago; and the way in which a magazine can turn our clichés into lifestyles, and our lifestyles into clichés. Well worth the read.