Today the good folk at Frankie unveiled their very first men’s title, Smith Journal. Aimed at what sociologists have called the disgusting sex, Smith boasts the same inquisitive nature, intelligent copy and compelling stories of its older sister but does so with a focus on the artisanal beers and gentlemanly style which the more hirsute among us should appreciate. We recently caught up with Editor-at-Large Rick Bannister to discuss the prospective Smith reader, the magazine’s point of difference and what we can expect from the launch issue.
What prompted you guys to start a men’s title? With Louise (Bannister, Frankie co-founder) being my wife, there’s always discussions about magazines in our household. But the biggest thing for me – I come from a magazine background as well, I used to work at the same company as Louise and I’ve sporadically written for Frankie since the first issue – is that there isn’t really a men’s magazine that I look forward to reading. That was the beginning of it and we just started chatting about what this hypothetical magazine might be.
And moving into a men’s market which has seen title after title fail, what is Smith’s point of difference? It’s funny there are a few people involved but everyone feels the same about our point of difference. It’s not exclusive and it’s not trying to be cool or be the first with anything. It’s about real people doing real things, guys that are making stuff, creative thinkers, adventurers, whatever. But I think the real point of difference is that the title is really inviting, something which makes people feel like they’re apart of it.
Does Frankie’s aesthetic and voice crossover too? I reckon it does. There are a lot of people who are involved in Frankie who are involved in this. Benjamin Law and Jo Walker are involved and Lara Burke is designing so it definitely has Frankie’s fingerprints all over it. I think people will recognize parts of it as far as the voice and perhaps the look. The other interesting point is that Frankie has always been pretty unisex and Smith will definitely be lady-friendly too. I think it’ll be similar in the way a lot of guys read Frankie, I think a lot of girls will read Smith. It’s appeal isn’t really limited by gender.
Who’s the Smith reader? It’s a guy who’s interested in making things and being creative and being hands on. The type of guy who might revive a few traditions whether that be brewing or making furniture or restoring bikes. There’s that side to it. Generally speaking, it’s a guy who looks beyond the surface of things and is interested in things that last, not things in the moment that come and go. It’s a guy who’s pretty sure of himself and doesn’t really care what other people think or if he’s wearing the right jeans. He’s on his own trip.
What’s the etymology of the title? The Frankie girls came up with that. They were doing a bit of research and they liked the idea of wordsmiths which led into blacksmiths which feeds into the whole hands-on and reviving tradition thing. Smith just means an artisan or craftsmen. Funnily enough, some people are taking it the other way where Smith Journal means the common bloke’s journal.
The everyman journal. Yeah, Smith. We didn’t think of that when they came up with the title but it’s funny that it’s already been interpreted like that.
So when is the launch date and what can we expect from the launch issue? Smith launches September 5th. As far as what to expect content-wise we’ve profiled a few people who make things; a furniture maker from Victoria and a taxidermist from Florida. Some photography features. Tex Perkins shows us his favourite items in his wardrobe. A story about brothers, all different brothers and their experiences together. A story on a couple of guys who rode bikes from the top of Alaska all the way to the bottom of South America. On the thinking man’s side there’s a story on the history of chess and the history of a few objects…so there’s some longer reading in amongst the other bits and pieces.
Smith Journal launches September 5th.