Towards Understanding Your Kinfolk

A “Hipster” as I remember it (Riera, 1968). 

I was an 11-year-old boy at the end of the 60’s and the hipster was a low cut pants commonly worn by men and women, but looked great on women. They continuously revisit fashion in various forms.

Knepworth 1979 Hipster still going strong, By then I was 20 (Evening star/Getty images, 1979)

So you may understand the need for me to look the term up and I found this delightful definition:

Hip: Originally “hip” or “hep” meant someone very fashionable in the first half of the 20th century. It evolved to mean someone into jazz and beatnik culture in the 1940s and 50s, and changed further still into “hippie” to describe flower children of the 60s. Today it’s changed again to “hipster,” meaning a self-aware, artsy person.
“My hip grandfather plays the sax, but my hipster brother just makes homemade pickles.”
(YourDictionary, 2019)

So  Kinfolk is magazine for someone that likes to make pickels? As I am not a millinial I had to get a reference to even understand the interview. 

A sample of a Kinfolk publication cover page (Fashion In The Media Project, 2019)

“With its focus on wellness”, not free sex, drugs, booze, folk music and rock and roll. “Minimal interiors- not the outside in a park and crashing at a friends place, living in a “Combi”, or tepee and being too anti-establishment to live in the suburbs or own a home. Artisanal food- Good foods, not vegan and eating it raw from the abundance of the world. “Kinfolk has been labelled the hipster’s style bible.” Hell, we used to call people like that “Squares!” Just joking!

Sample minimalist layout of Kinfolk book (Fashion In The Media Project, 2019)

Every time I stand in front of a contemporary newsstand I am left with an impression that photography is not worth anything as the front pages are littered with text selling what is inside the magazine. Its noise virtualy obliterating any visual message.

Cluttered Bookshelves – CNA Boksburg South Africa by Andre Nagel (2019)

How refreshing to see a book that values and puts photography in its right perspective. Using visual language instead of text to invite the reader to purchase the magazine. Inviting instead of trapping. It almost is a coffee table book that will look good lying around in a minimalist lounge.

Uncluttered bliss that can be used as a display in a minimalist home. (Fashion In The Media Project, 2019)

“The standout success among new-wave (Contemporary) indie (independent) magazines, it’s become a lifestyle brand in its own right, thanks to its pared-down photography and uncluttered design.”

Target Market

“Founded by Nathan Williams, his wife and two friends (Doug and Paige Bischoff) they intended the magazine to reach young professionals. The magazine started to reach the masses as they were drawn to the intimate and earnest nature the magazine (which is so relatable) and often not made a central focus in big magazines. Now, Kinfolk also reaches a younger audience that look for cultural and creative magazines. Around 70 per cent of its readership works in the creative industries, according to Williams.’ (Fashion In The Media Project, 2019) “ 

The interview

But seriously, or do I need to say “Bruh” ( in Afrikaans it slang brother or buddy), it is a great interview with Julie Cirelli, the then editor-in-chief of Kinfolk Magazine. She has since moved on to become the Editorial Director at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design in Cambridge (Julie Cirelli, 2019).

Woman with a vision (Julie Cirelli, 2019)

This interview in itself illustrates what style means, and what it means to understand your audience and customer. It also demonstrates how the understanding of your brand identity and style allows Cirelli and her team to collaborate to create a magazine that reflects her statement. ” Its objectives remain the same: to examine the complex elements of each person’s deeply personal narrative and explore the foundations of a well-lived life” and the founders vision”

It is done so uniquely and authentically that many others try to mimic it and fail. They understand their customer and market, their “Kinfolk”. Minimalists crave association and this magazine is the hub that values their views. And it is the reason why this independent magazine is a success where others fail or follow.

It is my impression that their magazine design layout does not want to emulate the internet and in-fact provides something that gives the “hipster” a break from their computer and cell phone by providing a larger format, uncluttered gallery styled layout and an expanded view. They present text and images in unsurpassed quality on alternative paper stocks to ensure a tactile experience. To top all the magazine experience is augmented with a matching website and a gallery space in Copenhagen.

And finally, they subtly use a non-invasive, contextual approach to selectively and subtle lifestyle marketing which really appeals to the targeted audience. They are an example of art and commerce converging.

In spite of their non- commercial stance, business strategy and planning pop up all over in the interview. Core values, objectives, goals, mission statements are reminiscent of an MBA class. In a way a perfect strategy eclectically and perfectly executed. Something all of us as professional photographic practitioners should aspire to. Cerelli also affirms the one criteria common in all successful ventures and individuals. Well directed, committed sweat equity.

“Did the magazine create the culture of visual conformity, or was it just perfectly placed to take advantage of it?” Translated, are they creating copycats or are they exploiters of it. In my opinion, they appear to be a successful service business that knows how to align with their clearly defined customer base and may even illustrate the resolve and ability to transform as this audience evolves over time. The photography in the magazine will follow the story-line and vision and will, therefore, develop over time. anyone else following will be a conformist being drawn into the allure of this eclectic work.


Cirelli, J. 2017, Kinfolk, 1854 Media, London.

Riera, T. (1968). a Hippie with his kid- take in Vondelpark, Amsterdam in 1968. [image] Available at: [Accessed 23 Oct. 2019].

YourDictionary. (2019). 30 Examples of Slang Words. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Oct. 2019].

Julie Cirelli. (2019). About — Julie Cirelli. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Oct. 2019].

Fashion In The Media Project. (2019). Kinfolk Magazine. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Oct. 2019].

Evening Star/Getty images (1979). Happy Hippie, Knebworth. [image] Available at: [Accessed 24 Oct. 2019].

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