It's been an action-packed 10 years since 1999, a decade that has seen everything from full-blown terrorist attacks to the sinking of New Orleans, from a President elected by the Supreme Court to a President whose father was born in Kenya. So you're forgiven if you failed to note that NYLON has now reached its tenth birthday. In magazine years, that means it's somewhere well into middle age -- an interesting turn of events for a publication targeting some subscribers who had barely started reading when it was launched.

The milestone is celebrated on the cover of the April issue, as well as on the pages within. The cover's long list of "close friends" serves a dual purpose: If you're browsing mags and you've never heard of Beth Ditto or Peaches Geldof or The Pierces or Mark the Cobrasnake, then perhaps you should take one giant step to your right and select another fashion-beauty-music title.

Of course, only those who've been shipwrecked since prior to Y2K wouldn't recognize cover girl Lindsay Lohan, her tresses highlighted and her pale belly looking eerily Photoshopped. Yet the tagline -- "A Pin-up for a New Era" -- raises more questions than it answers. The interview reveals La Lohan seems to be in a post-rehab/post-feature film/post-heterosexuality phase. Goodbye to all that at age 22. So the question now is, what exactly does Lindsay bring to NYLON by gracing the "Special Anniversary Issue" cover? In fact, that blurb about partying like it's 1999 may be more ironic than intended. As for the interview, you begin to wonder when the pull quote has her saying, "There's not much I can do about the fact that I've become a kind of tabloid obsession." Apparently not speaking about her personal life to NYLON never popped up as an alternative.

NYLON calls itself an "indie girl's fashion magazine" and page after page of waifs bears that out. This, after all, is a periodical with a regular feature dubbed "Jeans of the Month" (which doesn't celebrate -Claude Van Damme or Harlow). If ad pages are any indicator, this anniversary issue appears mean if not lean. It totals 196 pages, and while it doesn't require the forklift necessary to lift Vogue, there are still plenty of A-list advertisers. That said, the pages are chock full of those annoying subscription cards, each touting 75% off.

Yet NYLON's biggest advantage is its look. Make no mistake: The magazine has a distinctive appearance if not a distinctive voice, and the art direction is first-rate hipster. In addition, there's some quirky and entertaining stuff in these pages:

  • The best piece in this issue is "Aural History," in which nine of NYLON's favorite artists -- ranging from Deborah Harry to Sharin Foo to Patti Smith -- recall memorable musical moments in their own words.

  • "Tough Enough" celebrates Helena Bonham Carter as Marla in "Fight Club," and offers shopping tips for recreating her look (the Yves Saint Laurent jumpsuit retails for $6,575 but the Band-Aids are only four bucks).

  • The music pages are particularly strong, especially the back-stories provided on the groups Chairlift and Coathangers.

  • An interesting full page is devoted to a 25-year-old burgeoning designer named Kimberly Ovitz. Even though NYLON acknowledges she "does not have a lot of formal training," midway through the piece, however, we learn she "happens to be the daughter of former Hollywood super-agent Michael Ovitz." You don't say.

    In his anniversary letter, Editor-in-Chief Marvin Scott Jarrett rightly toots NYLON's horn for not being "controlled by a huge corporation." Fair enough. But what exactly does that mean in the fashion mag biz? NYLON isn't published by Condé Nast or Hearst, but the coziness with advertisers indicates that even independents can -- and perhaps must -- blur the advertorial lines. The "Happy Birthday to Us" feature consists of 10 full pages of greetings, nearly all of them from the sales side of the editorial/advertising wall. Nearly every photo contains six lines of .9 type identifying the fashion suppliers. And there's a regular feature entitled "Factory Girl" in which a staffer visits a designer's workplace. So a better assertion is whether it's possible for anyone to publish a fashion magazine that is truly independent -- not from a powerful parent company but from advertisers.

    And say what you will about magazine cartels, but they tend to nail the pesky details, such as grammar and spelling. NYLON is filled with enough awkward syntax to wear out a grease pencil, not to mention such errors as tense switching and missing punctuation. "Most importantly" is used in place of "most important" not once but twice, and the Lohan interview alone contains two missing-word typos. Alas, the masthead lists 26 interns -- count 'em! -- but not one copyeditor. Let's hope hiring one is on the to-do list for the next ten years. Indie is one thing, but amateurish is another.

    Published by: Nylon Holding Inc.
    Frequency: 10 times per year

  • 1 comment about "NYLON".
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    1. Austin Holt from Ballinger Publishing, April 9, 2009 at 5:01 p.m.

      Well played, indeed.

      My fiance got ahold of the last couple of issues of NYLON, and they have been merrily sitting on the back of the toilet, thummed through every now and again.

      Overall, it is a nice publication, barring the unforgivable editorial faux pas listed below. I am glad that I'm not the only one who, upon seeing a missing "and," lost a little respect for a magazine that otherwise fits its niche really well. Certain stylistic liberties are permitted sure, especially in a publication that thrives of trendy scrapbook kitsch, but as far as I know, missing verbiage isn't in right now.

      Visually, NYLON keeps with the times better than others like it: every block of text, from heads, to body to caption is some formulation of standard Helvetica, so it lends well to Gen-Dot-Com's yearning to maintain individuality while wanting to fit in and stay connected (for a 52 year old typeface, that old bastard just keeps ticking...); the photography is professional but still contains the old-school contrast and graininess of a toy medium format camera with a colored gel held loosely in front of the lens; it's relevant enough to draw much of its content, at least as far as fashion is concerned, from a fairly trendy European vein without bashing American sensibilities (apparently, Gladiator Sandles are all the rage stateside, but have already gone laughably out of style across the pond in the standard two year gap--NYLON is especially good at playing this sort of culture gap to its favor); and the layouts are simple and fun (which works, I suppose).

      But, in the end, it's a magazine that is understaffed by expensive professionals and overstaffed by too many indians who are so thrilled for the opportunity to work a semester-long gig at a real magazine that they're more than happy to do it for free. Compound that with the times--reading through the laundry list of the photo credits (the 0.9 size font), I discovered that nails and shoes on the celebrity model were credited. Fine, except for the fact that hands and feet were cropped out of the shot. Sloppiness, or pandering? I know it's not the make-up artist's fault that the photo they decided to print only shows the back of her head; it's just that Rolling Stone would have never let this shit fly, Annie Leibovitz or Liz Arden.

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