In 2013, the year fashion blogger Elise By Olsen celebrated her 13th birthday, she also celebrated another milestone—she became the world’s youngest editor-in-chief. Clad in an oversized black shirt and sporting choppy, powder peach hair, By Olsen made the rounds at all the magazine conferences promoting her chunky fashion bi-annual Recens Paper. Founded in reaction to the “commercialization, beauty standards, and gender stereotypes” she saw perpetuated by the fashion industry, the magazine’s contributors are almost entirely in their teens or—at a push—early 20s. Its energy is reflected in its design, with an upside down cover, satirical use of glossy paper, and playful color clashes. The project’s ambition and angsty graphics are compelling; on numerous occasions, By Olsen has been dubbed Oslo’s answer to Tavi Gevinson.
This year, By Olsen turned 18, and also stepped down from her position as editor-in-chief of Recens, deciding, as she told Highsnobiety, “If I’m no longer a minor, I didn’t feel that I was suitable for that position anymore. ” For By Olsen, who has been publishing in magazines or blogs for as long as she can remember, a new time of life requires a new type of magazine. Last month, alongside co-founders Felicia Granath, Morteza Vaseghi, and Geir Haraldeseth, By Olsen launched a new publishing project that intends to engage in critical dialogues with the fashion industry’s major players.
Called Wallet, the slender, sleek thing is a far cry from the chunky, thick spine of Recens. The shape of the magazine mimics an oversized wallet or clutch bag, with a flap folding over the front as “a symbol of capitalist values”—a form intended to spark critical thinking. Slight enough to fit in your pocket or handbag, the envelope also aims to make the publication more accessible and mobile—something readers could dip into on the bus, for example. The first issue features interviews with Comme des Garçons’s Adrian Joffe, colette founder Sarah Andelman, and Jefferson Hack, the CEO and co-founder of Dazed & Confused. The interviews are confrontational: By Olsen’s asks, “How do you stay relevant?” and “Who gains from your influence of power as CEO, except for you?”. Such queries navigate the tension between promoting, but also questioning, legacy.
The ornamental, skeletal logo that embellishes the cover mimics the fashion house branding that you might find stamped onto the deluxe leather wallet: it’s designed from the word “Wallet” mirrored and placed horizontally in a floral typeface. “It’s not easy to read on a first glance,” says the magazine’s art director Morteza Vaseghi. “I’ve always liked this kind of branding though—when it’s not in your face, when it takes a second to decode. The reader is a bit more touched in the process: they don’t get bored of it easily.” Wallet’s body copy is set in Oracle, a typeface by the foundry Dinamo.
Recens gives all adverts a black and white “warning” border to ensure readers understand it’s an ad. Now with Wallet, Vaseghi gives readers the option to opt in or out of adverts through printing them on perforated paper. “Every fashion publication needs adverts, it’s not a secret,” he says. “But we want to give our readers the option to rip them out: it’s a manual ad block. We don’t want to treat fashion publications like they have been, where the adverts are hidden in the editorial. It’s not an insult though: some readers enjoy tearing out adverts to put them up on their bedroom wall, for example.” Issue two lands this week, in the form of another slender, poised wallet, this time in an arresting metallic blue.