Identity Designed is a showcase of brand identity projects from around the world.

1883 Magazine

Contributed by Jay Mitchell of London-based 1883 Magazine.

1883 Magazine

The editor (my sister) and I started 1883 Magazine in May 2010 with the idea to showcase and promote the most innovative new talent around. We started with fashion and have since brought in the world of music, film and the arts.

What began as a small fashion publication centred in-and-around London has now evolved into an internationally distributed magazine. We are stocked in WHSmith and Urban Outfitters nationwide, in independent stores across Europe and from this Monday will be in Barnes & Noble and Borders in the United States.

1883 logo

When coming up with our brand identity it was essential that it would jump out amongst the competitive fashion/culture magazine market. We came up with the name 1883 based on three reasons.

Firstly 1883 is the year that Coco Chanel was born. When her designs hit the market they were fresh, pushed boundaries, and were often controversial. She was the first designer to make trousers for women and make it mainstream, back then that was a ground breaking idea. We want to take these philosophies and put them in our brand, focusing on new, undiscovered talent, while wanting to raise a few eyebrows with our content and design direction.

Secondly the use of a number as a name immediately creates a mystery, and people ask the question, “What is 1883?”

Thirdly the number is not at first glance related to fashion which makes it adaptable allowing us to bring in music, film, and the arts which we have done for our current and next issue.

1883 Magazine

The design had to be strong, simple, timeless, able to appeal to the female and male market, and be easily adaptable across different forms of media. Taking inspiration with what Apple do, I wanted it to be immediately recognizable without needing the word “magazine” below it.

1883 Magazine

1883 Magazine

1883 Magazine

If you look closely enough you will see a dot of gold in the logo, this was a last minute design idea. Its a company secret, but I feel it adds another level of mystery.

1883 Magazine

1883 Magazine

We printed with Wyndeham at their Portsmouth plant.
The cover was sheet fed, 4-colour process on 300gsm Woodfree gloss.
The inside pages were print web, 4-colour process on 100gsm Woodfree gloss.

Visit the 1883 Magazine website. 1883 on Twitter, and on Facebook.

12 appreciated remarks about “1883 Magazine”

  1. it looks great, but the concept seems really empty. aside from “make it pretty,” there’s really no substance to the brand. the gold dot was “a last minute design idea,” which says it all right there. it’s last minute, so it’s completely random.

  2. There are just too many things that turn me off to this identity. I suppose it’s part of the mystery and charm of the logo, but the stretched 8 bothers me. The compressed type just seems busy and messy, and doesn’t mesh well with the monospaced type on their website. Seems like a bunch of “fahsion-y” tropes mashed together.

    Usually the stuff of ID is really good, but this seems below par.

  3. I have to agree with Tyler and Ian here, this isn’t the best design I’ve seen, and the stretched 8 really bothers me (in my rules, type should NEVER be stretched. Period.), and the compressed type seems out of place or almost unneeded. The last thing I’d expect is compressed type, it doesn’t fit in as well with the logo and other elements.

    But, I’ll say this, it IS a design that has surprised me, and that’s what we need in today’s design scene, we need something new, different, original and surprising, and this has ticked those boxes for me.

    That said it’s not a design I’m too happy with, but I guess that’s my opinion.

  4. I happened to purchase a copy of the magazine at my local WHSmiths and was actually quite surprised by the design of the magazine in its entirety. After fumbling through, my reaction was quite similar to that of Louis’. They are definitely making a design statement and don’t seem to follow the motif of conventional magazines I ordinarily go for. In that respect I think the logo fits. Standards and restrictions often stunt my own creativity so I can appreciate it. I will say the written bit on it’s conception could’ve been a bit more thought out though.

  5. It’s good enough, but I just feel a bit ‘bleuurrgggh’ about it. Like I have little feeling for it either way.

    It feels dull in some way, and the scramble of shapes almost hurts my eyes. Feels a bit messy.

  6. It’s classic fashion designing – where the clothes are key, the graphic design is so often below par. It has the distinct feel of someone who doesn’t understand type. It can be fine to stretch, compress and obscure, but only when you know what you are doing, and why. If you can’t answer why (which it appears he can’t) then you know the branding must be failing. Ignoring rules is not an acceptable excuse when I doubt they are understood in the first place. These are all beginners mistakes.

  7. Agreed. Also could have done something more interesting with the cover image, or used a different image. Also, just saying ‘magazine’ suggests that your readers have never seen a magazine before, or that you need to push the fact that this is a magazine. Call it a ‘Fashion Magazine’ or ‘Culture magazine’, something a little more descriptive or leave it out entirely.

  8. Just saw them shooting on a roof in Venice Beach… Just bad.

  9. I am not a graphic design expert but I can surely relate to starting a magazine from the ground up. I am part of a small team working hard to grow an online publication, Great Design which focuses on all things design. We are currently working on a logo and have been struggling to develop the perfect one. I love this cover design and find it inspiring for our growing magazine! I wish 1883 the best of luck!

  10. Many different things when first started are never understood and mainly not liked at all.
    Many things throughout history (not just fashion) dont make sense at the time and are often rejected. BUT its the exceptional ideas- the ones that don’t make any sense at the time and are often rejected which are remembered because they turn out to be fantastic and they work they stick in our minds for reaching out of the ordinary and turning it into something that most of us cant even imagine. they become understood, accepted and idolised.

  11. I’m not quite sure why people are so keen to jump on this design. Have you read or taken a look at the magazine? Yes stretched type is one of those rules you should perhaps not break, but if you look inside the magazine, rules are broken everywhere. I think there is a place for everything. I come from an International Design teaching, strict on typography and grid structure. This magazine is refreshing, it does not conform. It knows its market. I really like the name, the logo and the content of this mag. I also admire the candidness of Jay to say, ‘I don’t know why’. Some of the best design can come out of instinct. Even in Swiss design, there must be an air of spontaneity and danger. Otherwise we are all saps to the machine.

  12. Thank you Ashley, my designs break quite a few rules and from what I can see has caused quite a reaction above. The look may not be everyone’s taste but it does get noticed and sets us part from my competitors. There’s no right or wrong in design just different opinions. Looking at each magazine issue 1-9 you will see I use different fonts for each page in each issue, make up my own ones, don’t use grids, articles go off the page, use paint, low res images, old typewriters, design pages in microsoft word then scan them in etc. etc., it all random. But why not, right?

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