As we sit down with 23-year-old Laura Bannister and she hands us a copy of the inaugural issue of BRACE, it’s hard not to be surprised by a few things. Firstly, Bannister – a freelance writer for Broadsheet as well as a rollcall of other publications including Russh, Dossier Journal and Incu EDITION among others – has accomplished an incredible amount for someone so young. Indeed, the release of a magazine like BRACE would be a weighty accomplishment for someone with another decade under their belts, but she’s handled it with an ease that surpasses her years.
BRACE is striking from the get-go. A steely pair of eyes, courtesy of model Jack Vanderhart, stare piercingly from the cover, hinting at the magazine’s place as serious contender in the indie press ranks. Inside, the pages are filled with a mix of rebellious fashion editorial, exclusively curated mixtapes, musings on cafes and the boutique music management scene and an evocative piece on the works of Denver-based photographer Kevin Bauman, among pages and pages of interesting articles to dip into. It feels like a breath of fresh air. We spoke to Bannister about how she and her co-editor Rosie Dalton, based in New York, pulled it all together.
Sophie McComas: How did the two of you meet and formulate the idea behind BRACE?
Laura Bannister: Both of us had been interning through university at lots of independent fashion magazines, I was at Russh and Rosie was at Oyster. We continued freelancing and writing for them, and eventually decided to create something together. We talked forever about it and never did anything, but when Rosie decided she was going to move to New York we suddenly decided to get going. We pulled in [my brother] Matthew [to head up the] creative direction, who we couldn’t have done it without. Everything’s been done between countries ever since.
SM: Has that been difficult? Co-editing over Skype?
LB: The time difference has been an obstacle; everything has to be done via email. While Rosie couldn’t be here to check the proofs, everything else was done together. She art directed a shoot in NYC as well. Even though the internet is amazing, there are some times when it would be great if we were together. However, I know there’s a lot of other magazines that do the whole international thing and I think that it’s definitely worth it. I’d so much rather be working with Rosie overseas than not doing it with Rosie at all! It’s also been really hard to get everyone to meet deadlines when you’re talking to people all over the world. There are a lot of Australian contributors, but we’ve got some in America – some in Miami, New York and London. There’s an interview with a Russian graffiti artist, artists from Edinburgh…
SM: Was there ever any thought of producing a digital magazine instead of in print?
LB: I haven’t seen an online-only magazine that works that isn’t essentially a blog format. I don’t think there’s anything online yet that re-creates the magazine experience. I’m obsessed with the printed written word, I love to be able to hold something in my hands. Magazines as they are will evolve and change, but the thing that will last is that idea of a coveted object, of a coffee table book – something luxurious and for a really niche market. Obviously there are magazines that aren’t going to last forever – they’re things that can be re-created easily online – but there’s something about a certain type of magazine that has the properties of a book.
SM: Are you positioning BRACE as primarily a fashion magazine? Who’s your demographic?
LB: I’d say it’s equally an art magazine – I wouldn’t want it to be only a fashion magazine. Rosie’s strengths are in fashion and mine are in art, so it’s equally art and fashion focused with quite a bit of music in there. There’s also a bit of a literature element that’s pulled through, with a work from Italian poet and critic Cesare Pavese. We didn’t think there were any magazines, especially in Australia, which adequately catered for both men and women. They’re usually women’s magazines who have expanded their sights a little. We want to appeal to both. There’s stuff in there that is definitely not aged at a certain age range; it’s surrounded by ideas of the young, but it also looks at people who are older. I think there’s an older sensibility about some of the references.
SM: Why did you decide run with an issue theme, in this case ‘undercover’?
LB: All of the themes are going to bounce off the Stones in some way. Rosie and I both have an obsession with that kind of music and just generally that era. I liked the idea of it being somehow connected to something older, to a classic rebelliousness. Rosie loves [to think of] the magazine editor as a curator, so we created an issue [around a theme], which in turn almost seems like an exhibition. Some of the works in the magazine are so closely tied to the theme you can obviously see where the connection lies, but some are incredibly subtle. The idea behind BRACE was that you’re on the precipice of something, like everything is about to happen. And I think that’s what we’ve ended up with.