The top 10 independent magazines in Toronto
Independent magazines in Toronto are surprisingly varied in their content. While corporately backed Toronto publications seem limited to current events, Toronto developments, fashion, and the dreaded cross-pollination scheme for advertising bucks, these indie mags use their own voice to emphasize the diverse culture that exists within the city.
Topics range from underground zine philosophies to international design trends, homemade fashion stars, and local fiction. We have magazines for the radical thinker and the art connoisseur, the design-conscious, eco-friendly urbanite and the fashion theorist. The magazines in this city make nearly every niche interest one worth reporting on.
Here are my picks for the top independent magazines in Toronto.
Since its start in 2003, The Walrus has maintained a consistent know-how to voicing the pressing and diverse Canadian issues in a democratic manner. Sometimes witty and always smart, its readership enjoys a thoughtful discourse endorsed -- and occasionally created -- by the country's cultural heroes, like Margaret Atwood, Shary Boyle, Leonard Cohen, and Joseph Boyden. Published 10 times each year, The Walrus' areas of expertise include arts and culture news, comments on Canada's political landscape, and short fiction. You'd be hard up to find a bookstore that doesn't stock this national gem on its shelves.
Pulp is one of those large-scale fashion magazines you buy to collect. It features stories about the international fashion game, publishes editorials that showcase important Canadian talent, and has full-page creative photo spreads akin to any relevant sartorial publication. Pulp comes out bi-annually, which gives you plenty of time between each to devour the whole thing as you eagerly await the next issue. They're stocked in Indigo stores across the country and can be found across the pond as well.
Toronto's zine and small-press culture would go largely unnoticed if it weren't for Broken Pencil. They're the hub for all things alternative -- be it cutting-edge fiction, non-conformist social views, and indie art stars. Broken Pencil's unique understanding of the influence zines can have in creating a subculture shines in every issue. Their print edition comes out four times annually and can be purchased in bookstores across Canada and the U.S.
Spacing is a magazine that tackles the finer details of urban planning and how public spaces influence our daily lives. Over the course of a decade, Spacing has grown from a Toronto-centric publication to a nationwide conversation and publishes four times throughout the year. While half of the time they focus on Toronto issues, the magazine's expansion to other Canadian cities has influenced a national discussion dedicated to making Canadian metropolises more accessible, beautiful, and happily shared spaces.
Shameless is a magazine geared toward trans youth and young women learning and maturing in an age where they can define their own paths. It's a progressive, anti-oppressive, smart alternative to teen publications that have muddied values steeped in pop culture obsessions and beauty tips. Shameless aims to promote open-minded feminism and a welcome place to talk about social issues and learn new things (like crafting and DIYs, too). It's published three times a year and can be found in a number of Chapters and Indigo locations across Canada and other specialty bookstores.
After 45 years in the business, THIS remains a national magazine with a relevant voice in the Canadian political landscape. Its values are rooted in alternative political, arts, and culture news, wherein the reader can become informed about the other side of today's issues. THIS magazine is published six times a year.
The youngest magazine on this list, Little Brother has made big steps for itself since it began in 2012. The bi-annual journal publishes short stories, essays, local photography, among other favourite artsy formats that make every new issue of this mag something to look forward to. In the short time they've been around, Little Brother has won a national magazine award, launched a lecture series, and been dubbed "several kinds of new" by the Globe and Mail.
Azure is a design and architecture magazine that emphasizes the relationship between interior spaces and their place in an urban landscape. Its real-world approaches to design have earned the near 20-year-old publication several awards in its discipline. Everything from large-scale green lifestyle architectural developments to accessible interior decorating trends are considered within the pages of Azure's eight yearly issues.
Published quarterly, CMagazine has created a space for critical art debates to exist in the Canadian magazine publishing industry. The magazine hosts art editorials and reviews from the international scene and is written for the well-informed art critic and a more academic reader. Its heady content outlines the trends and ideas that inform today's art. CMagazine can be purchased at a number of retailers throughout Canada, the U.S., and Europe.
Named for the lasting classiness of the corduroy jacket, Corduroy is a fashion publication that profiles industry professionals interested in the timelessness of fashion (as opposed to those who report on seasonal trends and annual changes in style). The average issue comes with a theme in mind and is accompanied by interviews with artists, actors, and other culturally influential figures. Corduroy's physical design -- grandiose and visually stunning -- has as much to do with its content as the words on the page.
Did I miss any? Leave your favourite Toronto-based magazine in the comments.
Photo by Natta Summerky.
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