“I’m pretty bad at time management,” laughs Claire Milbrath, editor-in-chief of The Editorial Magazine. “I feel like I’m working all the time…but not working hard enough all the time.” We’re in the kitchen of the 27-year-old’s Montreal apartment with her best friends and fellow editors Olivia Whittick, 25, and Rebecca Storm, 29. The apartment—mustard-yellow damask wallpaper, kitsch cabinets, mismatched floral bedsheets—doubles as HQ for the tight-knit crew behind the girl-run indie rag, which has amassed a cult-like millennial following as well as a reputation for breaking emerging art talent. “It would be cool to have a full-time staff and office,” admits Milbrath, but as Whittick puts it, “maintaining control and no bad vibes,” has its perks.
The Mile-Ex apartment’s hashed-together charm, combined with the team’s DIY approach (back issues piled everywhere, logo tees folded haphazardly in a bookcase, screen-printed tote bags tossed in the corner) feels—how do I put this?— very Montreal. There’s a sense of low-ebb creativity: ever-changing, in-flux projects accomplished in no real rush. Prolific, but in slow-mo. “I think we take an intentionally unprofessional approach,” says Whittick. “Amateur is the wrong word, but there’s an openness and a friendliness to the way we do things.”
Originally from Victoria, B.C., Milbrath launched the magazine in 2011 during her last year at Concordia University (she majored in history) as an outlet for her own work (she’s a painter) and the work of other artists she admired. Whittick (who edits and styles) and Storm (whose still life colour flash photos add high-impact visuals) joined shortly after.
Many of the artists they feature are found on Instagram. Their most recent issue includes an interview with buzzy Montreal-born, New York–based artist Chloe Wise, an essay by Toronto painter Brad Phillips and a fashion shoot by Toronto photog Maya Fuhr (who, BTW, is also a frequent FLARE contributor—check out her story, “The Mystery of the New Models”).
Key to the magazine’s identity is a sense of humour, especially when it comes to fashion. For example, a recent shoot titled “Smart Casual,” features models wearing a clash of conventional business attire (button-ups, pinstripes) and streetwear (graphic tees, fishnets) as they shake hands, point a lot and literally climb a ladder.
Which brings us back to Milbrath’s “office” and three friends scrolling through Insta at the kitchen table. This may be where it all begins, but 15 issues in, the magazine’s ecosystem of artists and friends has gone global. In June, the team held a launch event in Tokyo and was shocked by the turnout—300 hardcore fans showed up. “We met readers who had a mental Rolodex of every issue,” says Whittick. “Like, they would reference a specific artist we featured in issue 10. It was insane.” A fancy office and full-time staff aren’t the only way to climb that ladder.