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The Five Indie Magazines You Should Be Reading Right Now

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Welcome to the Racked Awards, our annual celebration of the best in fashion, beauty, shopping, and health. Below, see our nominees for the Best Indie Magazine.


Photo: Toilet Paper

Like model-slash-DJs and Brooklyn microbrews, indie magazines sprout up faster than organic kale. But what separates a passing fad from a budding media brand? Killer covers, staff with major cred, and—of course—an Instagram feed you can't stop stalking. Read on for all the subscriptions you'll want to add to your stack.

Heroine

Some magazines start with a women's edition and go from there (think: Nylon Guys, the short-lived Men's Vogue), but Heroine comes after Hero, the high-fashion journal for dudes that boasts Hedi Slimane as a frequent contributor. Heroine's first issue launched last month (welcome to the newsstand, baby!) and features Juno Temple, shot by Sebastian Kim and interviewed by her Horns co-star Daniel Radcliffe.

While the styling and photo shoots are impressive throughout, what really got our attention was how fast—and how thoroughly—the magazine's PR team turned its launch into a major news story for celeb websites worldwide. (Insert Harry-Potter-still-makes-magic joke here.)

Violet

When stylist (and Kirsten Dunst BFF) Leith Clarke announced she was leaving her post at Lula, ethereal skater chicks everywhere shed some mascara tears. Where would they get their monthly fix of Miu Miu, Jenny Lewis, and the many incarnations of their beloved cat eye? The answer, of course, was a new magazine.

Boasting major masthead heft from fashion insiders like designer Luella Bartley and activist Sarah Sophie Flicker, Violet seems to have sprung fully grown from the media landscape. Once its website gets fully stocked with original stories, it might just be unstoppable.

Flow

Attention, DIY fanatics: Get ready to scream and jump around. That's what we did, anyway, when we discovered the English-language off-shoot of Dutch design magazine Flow that features hundreds of pages of...incredible printed paper. There are sheets of graphic flowers, zig zags, and hearts. There are templates for those fortune tellers you made in 9th grade math class. There are even color-in-the-lines leaflets starring Blondie (seriously).

Oh, and there are stickers and tear-out illustrations of kittens, ice skaters, and trees covered in glitter. If you don't get why this is amazing, you are probably too cool for this magazine. If you do get it—well, we'll fight you for the last copy. Bonus: They even have an iPad edition so you can take the issues out and about without worrying about causing them any harm.

Toilet Paper

For those who want to live in a Kenzo ad, here's your chance. Toilet Paper is a magazine that believes in both couture and shock therapy, created by artist Maurizio Cattelan and photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari, who also happen to be the creative directors behind the French label's cool new campaign.

If Salvador Dali were alive today. he'd probably be doing spreads for this surrealist manifesto of a mag which boasts a website just as witty and outrageous as its print edition. Warning though: It's NSFW—the "contact" link is accompanied by a picture of a dick. For real.

Golly

The name is earnest, retro, and giggle-inducing, and so is the magazine itself. Founded by Roxanne Fequiere and Alley O'Shea, Golly's got shades of Rookie and Bust, but with a few more unabashedly girly touches.

The duo funded their launch via Kickstarter, and the debut issue has awesome stuff like a houseplant photo spread and a profile of a female NASA scientist. As Fequiere told Racked, "I was always really into magazines from a young age. I remember begging my mom for them. I got my first subscription was I was 12, and I always felt that, though they were great, something was missing." It looks like Golly's filling that void.

· · ·

All our nominees are incredible (seriously), but we're naming Violet the winner. Besides its big-deal contributors, the luxury advertisers in its first issue are nothing to sniff at. The mag's clearly focused on being financially viable—and in the world of indie publishing, that means a lot. Of course, a magazine's real success lies in its readers, so vote with your wallet and support the indie magazine of your choice at your local bookstore.