System Magazine Defies Lockdown with Blockbuster Issue

System magazine bucks the ‘print is dead’ mantra with their latest issue, a gloriously overstuffed volume bursting with the industry’s crème de la crème… and entirely produced while under lockdown.

Published biannually since 2013, System has developed a strong voice in the industry as it explores it from within. Each issue features long-form talks with relevant insiders alongside supplements and portfolios from some of the industry’s most exciting and noteworthy creatives. While in the wake of Covid many publications and companies scrambled to make a transition to digital, System boldly doubled down on print. The latest issue, their fifteenth, is their largest ever at a whopping 500 pages.

Such a high page count seems necessary for the ambitious scope of the issue. It contains contributions from some of the biggest players within the industry today, a promise already made apparent by its covers. Modern photography icon Juergen Teller created 35 different covers for the issue. Teller captured the magazine’s many participants across a series of Zoom conversations, interestingly working the digital format into his signature slice-of-life style.


Among the conversational pairings are Virgil Abloh and Daniel Lee; Victoria Beckham and Kim Jones; Tommy Hilfiger and Telfar Clemens; Rick Owens and Gwendoline Christie; Natacha Ramsay-Levi and David Sims, and Matthew Williams and Bella Hadid. “My advice to younger designers, whose brands might be closing and for whom bankruptcy is a real issue, is to look at the upside and see what you can do to work at a house or see what you can do to partner with another brand, and start something new,” Abloh says in his conversation with Lee, the creative director of Bottega Veneta. “Bankruptcy is not a bad word, shutting down a business is detrimental, sure, but what I’ve learned from my own career is that the sooner you put your first idea and your first business in the trash, the sooner you begin your real career. As soon as I let that first thing go, I realized that it is not the end of the world, it is only the beginning,” he added.

Elizabeth Von Guttman, one of the magazine’s four cofounders who also form its editorial board, reflects on the emotional context that gave rise to the ambitious idea:

Building this issue while in Covid isolation provided an opportunity for us as a team to feel less isolated.

Back in April, we sought to create a remote community of people from within the industry; inviting them to create work and communicate with us as well as between themselves. The exercise really lifted our spirits and we hope that it might have provided a creative outlet and some positive respite to those who participated, too.  

Would we want to repeat the exercise every six months? Clearly not. But it has allowed us to peek into a possible future for publishing, and consider how this kind of spontaneous and freewheeling editorial work might be achieved moving forward.

– Elizabeth Von Guttman | Co-Founder System Magazine
photo – System’s Elizabeth von Guttman & Alexia Niedzielski by Juergen Teller

Von Guttman went on to explain, “Given how quickly and turbulently the world is currently moving, the lockdown period already feels like a distant memory. And in some respects, we achieved what we set out to do – create an editorial time-capsule of a unique moment.”

This moment is beautifully captured from various perspectives in ‘What are we looking at?’. The 300-page section assembles 18 exclusive fashion portfolios, each one orchestrated by a leading industry art director, including such figures as Marc Ascoli, M/M (Paris), Fabien Baron, Ferdinando Verderi, Ezra Petronio, Dennis Freedman, David James, Veronica Ditting, Christopher Simmonds, Patrick Li, Franck Durand, Lee Swillingham, Ben Kelway, and more.

System is available exclusively at Dover Street Market London, Shreeji News in London, OFR Bookstore in Paris, and online at IDEA Books. The Impression has already placed our order as we love to support goodness. You also can buy here.










System Issue 15 will be available at stores and newsstands internationally from July 1st.

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