The Face / Julian Klincewicz

The Face is one of the most iconic culture magazines ever. Over a 24-year run, starting in May 1980, it explored subcultures with a reverence they had never been afforded before. It was funny and hard-hitting. It made cover stars of people like David Bowie and John Lydon, Kate Moss and Alexander McQueen. It changed the perception of what a magazine could and should be, and paved the way for every publication that takes niche culture seriously, from Dazed and i-D to Fantastic Man and Highsnobiety.

And now, after 15 years, The Face is back — with a new publisher and editorial team but the same obsession with those figures bending culture into new shapes.

“I read The Face in the late ’90s and it was a portal into fashion, music, all the things I wanted to know about,” says new editor Stuart Brumfitt, who got his first journalistic byline as a closeted teenager in Bradford in the north of England, writing in praise of gay garage and hip-hop clubs. “It gave me ideas about music, clothes, clubs — everything really.”

During its original run, The Face was read religiously by figures such as Alessandro Michele, who used its logo in Gucci’s Pre-Fall 2019 collection. The magazine employed a slew of creatives, from Buffalo stylist Ray Petri to graphic designer Neville Brody, photographer Norbert Schoerner, and editor Katie Grand, who went on to found LOVE magazine.

“The old guard have been really supportive,” says Brumfitt. As part of The Face’s relaunch, the new website is publishing the most important story from each year of the magazine’s first incarnation. “We went back and asked everyone’s permission and they’ve all said the same thing: ‘It shouldn’t be nostalgic. We want you to do your own thing and push it forward.'”

For now, that means an Instagram account and the website — “It’s the first one for The Face, which is really exciting,” says Brumfitt. Finally, in September, we’ll receive the first quarterly print magazine.

For the online launch, Brumfitt brought together Virgil Abloh and rapper Octavian for a head-to-head on the current state of culture. “We saw [Octavian] perform and knew immediately we wanted to feature him,” says Brumfitt. “We’re looking for interesting ways to cover stories, to add to stories, different ways we can make the site really thrilling. So we spoke to Virgil, hooked up this conversation, and had those two talking together. They’re big fans of each other, so it felt really natural.”

Read some exclusive excerpts from Abloh and Octavian’s conversation below.

Octavian on walking in Abloh’s first Louis Vuitton runway show

“In Paris, it was one of the maddest days of my life. Fam, I came from the London roads. Opportunities like this wasn’t really given to London rappers.”

Abloh speaking to Octavian about the connection between his fashion and the music scene

“All of us at one point were those kids who couldn’t get into the club, the nightclub… What I think we did is the camaraderie amongst all the different crews… It’s like we’ve all decided that the generation is now and it’s us. You’re making the soundtrack to it, I’m trying to make some clothes which go along next to it, and we’re just doing our thing.”

Abloh on being influenced by British music

“It goes back to me following the [British] scene… and when the whole Boy Better Know T-shirts movement was happening. That to me almost gave me the esteem to do Pyrex Vision, which became OFF-WHITE, which became Louis Vuitton. It was the idea that kids from the bottom, or kids from the left of center, that we can make a T-shirt, we can make a sense of pride.”

Read the full conversation and listen to the audio at The Face.

For more about Virgil Abloh, watch the video below.

Words by Tom Banham
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