Why This Twentysomething Streetwear Star Is Starting a Print Magazine in 2016

Melodie Jeng

Melodie Jeng

When you think of what a millennial in media might hope to break into in 2016, print probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Snapchat stardom, YouTube fame, maybe even a breakout gig on Facebook Live—that sounds more like it.

But at 22, Emily Oberg has online ennui—she’s an editorial producer at Complex, a regular feature in front of the camera in the site’s video content, and a veritable social-media star in the streetwear world—which prompted her to parlay her passion project, a lifestyle brand called Sporty and Rich, into a just-launched print magazine by the same name.

“There’s so much online right now and it’s not that special anymore to me, so I thought starting another website wouldn’t be a big deal,” she says, adding that she’s been working on the project for the better part of a year. “It wouldn’t make the same sort of impact that I think a physical piece of work does. Just myself, I just like to hold things, whether it’s physical photos or magazines or books.”

Sporty and Rich Issue No. 1

Sporty and Rich Issue No. 1

The magazine takes cues from arty titles like The Gentlewoman, Fantastic Man, and Apartamento, and features original photography, illustration, and interviews with subjects such as artist Suzanne Mallouk, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s former girlfriend. The project was self-funded, though Oberg included ads for brands such as Nomia and Sunnei—”just smaller names that I like to buy.” While the original run of 150 is already sold out, Oberg says she plans to print more and have them available on her site in the next few weeks.

Despite the name, the plan for the magazine was never to get rich. “I knew going into it that it wasn’t going to be the most lucrative thing, and I probably won’t make that much profit off of it, but that’s not why I did it,” says Oberg. “It was just more of a fun art project—I think of it more as a portfolio that I can show people kind of what I’m capable of. I’m kind of known for doing my video and on-camera stuff, but this is something else I wanted to kind of explore and prove that I’m good at.” That said, if she can secure investment money, the project could become a quarterly or biannual venture—if not with her plate so full, a yearly schedule is more likely.

Now, she has no illusions that her teenage YouTube fans will be rushing to buy copies but says older friends who still buy such antiquated things as “physical books” and use disposable cameras are quite happy to drop $18 on a thoughtfully designed magazine. And if they don’t, well, they can always follow the brand on Instagram.

Sporty and Rich Issue No. 1

Sporty and Rich Issue No. 1

Sporty and Rich Issue No. 1

Sporty and Rich Issue No. 1

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