New East Digital Archive

Philosophy magazine — New East 100

This Hungarian magazine is serving up a heady mix of style, science and substance

25 September 2017

Launched as an online fashion magazine in 2013, Philosophy magazine not only focuses on issues that affect the fashion industry but ones that shape the world around us. Made by a small team in Budapest, led by founder and editor-in-chief Eszter Boldov, the magazine features the work of artists and acclaimed photographers like Stella Berkofsky and Mark Lebon alongside in-depth stories that take you inside the minds of influential people, whether that’s rapper Tommy Cash or a researcher of the National Institute of Nuclear Physics in Geneva. Together with photographer Orsolya Luca, Philosophy’s photo editor, Boldov launched its very first print issue in 2016. It’s a truly multi-faceted magazine that asks you to pause and spend some time with it, and in turn invites you into a discussion. Here, Boldov and Luca talk about trying to fit into the fashion world and finally doing things their own way.

When did you start Philosophy magazine?
Eszter Boldov: I created the magazine 5 years ago whilst modelling. I still model but not as much anymore. We created the magazine with my modelling agency Vm Model LTD in Hungary. They had resources and contacts of models that I could work with and I had a lot of ideas and energy. It started as a fashion magazine: we featured fashion editorials and offered a behind-the-scenes look at the fashion industry. At the end I realised that if you want to top models on the cover, it’s not going to have the meaning that I wanted. That was when I met Orsolya. We realised we had the same goals, the same vision. We have even have the same birthday. After discussing everything to do with the magazine, we came to the decision to credit Orsolya as picture editor, and then to take the publication in a new direction.

Orsolya Luca: It had never been about credits. It was more of a passion project. I had been living in London for the past six years. I found it to be a very difficult process, not just because of my studies but fitting into the photo industry in general. I realised maybe I should find my very own way to be successful. I couldn’t find my own way in London: you’re trying to be successful in the Western world which essentially has different values. I think that became part of the magazine when I began talking about it with Ezster. Our main goal was to try to create our own values.

What was the first issue you worked on together?
EB: The first issue that we did together was called Identity. We chose this theme so we could really think about ourselves, where we fit in, our view about the world.

OB: We talked a lot about how we fit in the fashion world that is fast and materialistic. We have different values. It’s very much constant person questions which we are raising to ourselves. The next issue was called Action Reaction.

How do you select the themes for each issue?
OL: Every time it becomes an investigation. It becomes something you’d like to explore. Once you have this idea, you have to dig deeper. It starts with writing down the things we’re reading and thinking about and then putting it all together. A magazine for me is like a human being who may be interested in fashion, physics, music, art.

EB: That’s why we decided to keep things natural. We don’t want to put up boundaries. We didn’t want to be checking things off, for instance we have to do an interview, now we have to do a report. We wanted to reflect our thoughts and our contributors thoughts. It’s like a constant flow, which means we never get bored of it. For instance I bought a Rubix cube recently, an invention of a Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Ernő Rubik, and now I want to feature it in a future issue.

OB: As with the Rubix cube, many times a magazine is about trying to fit all the pieces together. And that’s what we don’t want. We’re not going to try to fit into something that already exists because we can’t fit in. You realise there’s a gap between that world where you want to be successful, but you need to create your own way which is a lot more fun.

Can you pick some of your favourite stories to give a sense of what Philosophy magazine is about?
OB: For me it has to be a story I shot for the Action Reaction issue with Viva Gore called Unlabelled. She’s the daughter of Martin Gore, the song writer in Depeche Mode, and the story was about her personal battle with that label. At the same time I was thinking of how high fashion brands use labels on their clothing that are sometimes misleading.

EB: For me it was in the Identity issue by Blanka Kovacs about the validation of Soviet symbols in fashion. It’s a topic close to my heart. She wrote the essay from her perspective os someone who has lived through this time and asks how we should feel about these symbols being represented at fashion week. At first we wanted to shoot a fashion story to illustrate it, but then we realised that these are our clothes. These are our parents’ clothes, many of which are still in their wardrobe. So we decided to dig up these pictures from the family archives. That felt like a more meaningful way draw out what it means to use Soviet symbols today.

What do you think think your being Hungarian adds to the magazine?

OL: I think where we grow up is like a line you follow until the end of your life. So our identity definitely forms the background of the magazine. The language is very difficult and different from any other languages. The way we think is very complicated and I think that influences how we perceive the world and how our ideas come together.

Your magazine has a very international scope: does that have anything to do with Hungary’s positioning in the centre of Europe? Do you feel a responsibility to bridge the East and West?

OL: It’s already a huge responsibility to put something out there. I think we are brave enough to do something that is kind of scary. We don’t have anything to lose. We both have travelled a significant amount. Eszter has travelled Asia through her modelling. I also lived for a long time in North America.

EB: I think it comes back to the personality of the magazine. We have run stories from Japan, China and New York because we have had an opportunity to travel there, we have friends there and it’s just interesting for us. Our magazine distributed in Japan, in Shanghai. It happened this way.

Talking of travel, what’s the first place you like to visit on your return home to Budapest?

OL: The biggest and oldest and public park in Budapest, Városliget. There is also little Japanese tea house called Marumoto. If I go anywhere, it has to be there.

EB: I love to visit the myriad of vintage and antique shops in the city. You can find clothes for as little as €2 and amazing old furniture. Some of my favourites are Retikul vintage, Dressingroom, Humana but there are all kinds of these stores, usually run by cute old ladies, everywhere in the city. You just have to keep your eyes open!

Interview: Liza Premiyak