Love your age: Renaissance magazine
When it comes to magazines, newspapers and books, I’m quite old-school. I’d still rather read a physical copy than a digital one. This is partly because I spend so much time online, I like to slow down and escape in my spare time, but also because of the physical, tactile nature of print. The joy of lolling around with a good book or pouring over a magazine is impossible to replicate online. Though my subscriptions may have dwindled over the last couple of years, one publication that’s slowly stacking up beside my desk is Renaissance. A bi-annual fashion and lifestyle magazine launched in spring 2017, and now on it’s fifth issue. Renaissance is full of beautiful, inspiring images of models over-40 and all the fashion editorials and cover features are un-retouched; which is empowering to see. The latest issue is no exception, there are three different covers (this is a regular Renaissance thing) starring iconic eighties models: Marie Sophie Wilson, Tatjana Patitz and Nadja Auermann and a brilliant feature from Hana Schank and Elizabeth Wallace discussing their new book,The Ambition Decisions: What Women Know about Work, Family, and the Path to Building a Life.
Here, I talk to editor and creative director Mikella Lowe about the decision to launch Renaissance:
Please can you tell me a bit about yourself – about your background and what made you start Renaissance magazine?
Renaissance magazine was a 40th birthday gift to myself. I felt being 40 officially marked the start of ‘midlife’ and I wanted to create a platform to explore the beauty of age and to change some of the negativity often surrounding ageing in the media.
My parents were one of my key inspirations for Renaissance – the way they live their life at 70 is much younger than many millennials I know; they both still work, are open to new ideas, actively question what they see happening around them and are engaged with the world. In my first editor’s letter I wrote about what resonates with me: “I feel there is often a cloud hanging over the concept of ageing: we fear the future, we hide the years and fight our wrinkles. I wanted a platform to show that this time in life, our midlife, holds opportunities for growth, discovery and the freedom to live the way we choose”. I guess not having a background in publishing helped me, as it meant I could make my own rules as I went along. Renaissance magazine is still 100% self-funded as we have yet to get advertisers. I took a loan to help and there are many talented people who believe in the magazine and work for free. We are planning a Kickstarter campaign for mid-October which will help us keep going and making a difference.
It feels very brave launching a magazine in the middle of the digital era – why is it important to still have beautiful print publications? And do you plan to make the magazine the focus or to build online? Or both?
I always loved magazines and there are some wonderful and inspiring publications out there, but most are targeted at women aged 18-35, filled with retouched images, discussing topics that are far from where I am now in my life. I wanted to make a statement about ageing with Renaissance. My background is in graphic design and I really believe in the power of a beautifully curated print magazine to tell stories and engage with the reader. So much information is published digitally that I feel having a magazine as our main platform is the point of difference, to cut through in a highly competitive market, traditionally dominated by youth and topics related to young women. Renaissance is now stocked in selected shops across 15 countries including the UK, Europe, USA, Japan and Australia and we hope to increase our distribution in more outlets. We publish twice a year and are focussing on the print version for now, but our plans are to create content for different platforms, in particular video. We have also started a small creative agency where we work with brands that want to communicate with women over 40 in a contemporary and engaging ways.
The styling and photography in Renaissance is really strong – why is it important that we see beautiful images of older women? And what kind of reaction have you had?
There are not enough images of women over-40 out there – in a way, the world is obsessed with youth, but ageing is beautiful too; we become more confident, we know who we are, so why hide it or fight it? With Renaissance we want to be part of the change that That’s Not My Age and other bloggers are starting to create. It’s time to show that being stylish doesn’t have an expiry date. In most magazines you would be lucky to see even one editorial with an older model – we wanted to make a statement that you can create an exquisite magazine by using only older models. The reaction has been very positive, but as a small independent magazine with no money for PR or promotions, getting traction in the publishing world is a long process.
Renaissance has a global feel and features writers and experts from around the world – how does it all come together?
Renaissance is an international production. For each issue we shoot in at least five different countries and interview people from across the world. Our aim is to create an interesting magazine that stands out because of the high quality content, and not as a gimmick. In each fashion editorial we try to include small local brands and introduce our readers to new designers. In addition, since we only work with models aged over-40, our selection is limited, so by shooting in different countries we increase our talent pool. Diversity is very important to us and by using models across the world we have more options. All communications with the team is done via email, Instagram or Skype and as you can imagine there is not a boring moment.
You have used ‘power, ‘body’ and ‘relationships’ as themes – what else would you like to cover?
While age is a key part of the magazine we don’t want it to dominate the content, so we make sure the themes are dynamic and allow room to feature content that resonates with women of a broad age range. For 2019, we are planning to push our creative offering even higher, to create editorials that live across different platforms. We want Renaissance to be a beautiful, diverse and honest magazine that inspires people to feel good with where they are today. In the current issue of Renaissance magazine we explore dreams and dreamers. We also had the opportunity to talk to our cover stars about their long modelling careers and current projects. With Professor Patrick McNamara we talked about the mysterious world of dreams and the science of sleeping. Hana Schank and Elizabeth Wallace discuss their book The Ambition Decisions where they interviewed women from their graduating cohort, nearly twenty years later. We examine ‘social good’ focused businesses with Rob Caslick – founder of Two Good, where a delicious meal is donated for every purchased one; and Rohan Gunatillake – founder of meditation app Buddhify and author of the book Modern Mindfulness.
More information on Renaissance magazine HERE.