Youth in Revolt: Bullett Reinvents the Magazine–and Their Masthead

Last week Nick Haramis started his new job as editorial director of Bullett, the curious quarterly fashion magazine now entering

Last week Nick Haramis started his new job as editorial director of Bullett, the curious quarterly fashion magazine now entering its second year.

From his designated corner of Bullett’s Chelsea loft (equipped with a big shiny Mac, but still awaiting a partition to separate the broom closet from the office), Mr. Haramis said he had been seduced by the prospect of building something new at Bullett, an opportunity presented to him by editor in chief Idil Tabanca and chief brand officer Carrie Rosten in a meeting at The Ace.

Although Bullett is not exactly a start-up, one might say it’s pivoting. In the spring, a founding investor and editor, Erin Ralph, a proto-Tavi fashion blog entrepreneur, was bought out by another founder and his or her “undisclosed overseas backer,” rumored to be a blood relation.

Ms. Tabanca, 27, replaced Ms. Ralph as editor-in-chief. She said the parting was mutual and amicable. Ms. Tabanca hired Ms. Rosten from Out magazine. Ms. Ralph went on to launch Weebo, a social shopping start-up.

Mr. Haramis, 28, joined Bullett from Blackbook, where he was first spotted as a rising star, climbing from intern to editor-in-chief in five years. He’ll take over Bullett’s written editorial, which until this point has been mostly Q&As. Mr. Haramis had met Ms. Tabanca previously, when she was launching Bullett a little over a year ago, and she was looking for advice.

But the magazine’s young masthead has since thrown out whatever playbook editors were working from then.

First, forget that pesky church-state divide between business and editorial. Bullett did not run print advertisements in the Fall issue, in part because in the past print ads broke the magazine’s creative flow. Print is precious these days, the thinking went. Now, Ms. Rosten looks for sponsors whose brands are a fit with Bullett’s aesthetic and who are open to more inventive forms of product placement or cobranding. That could mean anything from a photo shoot with a Porsche sponsored by Porsche (but directed by Bullett) to an arts section curated by MoMA.

Although, hey, if they want to make ads for other magazines, Bullett is happy to help. Part of what Ms. Tabanca calls the company’s “360 business plan” is the Bullett Creative Agency, which will advise brands.

“What’s the point in starting a business if you’re going to do everything the same?” Ms. Tabanca mused.

What has remained the same through Bullett’s rocky transition is its celebrity draw—which is surprisingly bold-faced given the publication’s age (infantile) and reputation (obscure).

Bullett’s content relies heavily on celebrity collaboration and stunts. In the Fall issue, Mary-Louise Parker wrote a letter to Nancy Botwin, her character on Weeds. In Ewan McGregor’s photoshoot, he helped conceptualize the characters, wore his own leather jacket, and took Ms. Tabanca’s dare to be photographed writing his name in urine on the sidewalk. (To be honest, they ended up simulating it. Who could pee that long?)

According to Mr. Haramis, Bullett’s art team presents their would-be subjects with 100-page books of images and inspiration about the next issue’s theme. Engaging subjects in the process helps circumvent publicists and avoid the sort of  lunch interviews and monitored phone calls that make other magazines so boring to Bullett’s founders. (Or worse, their bartering access to one client for promotion of another.) Mr Haramis’s familiarity with publicists—he is a prolific celebrity profiler—comes in handy.

In the next week or so the staff will put the “Secrets” issue, which features Michael C. Hall, to bed. The one after that is will be about youth. And not just whipper-snappers like Ms. Tabanca and Mr. Haramis. The tentative cut-off for inclusion in the “Nymphs” issue is 21.


Youth in Revolt: Bullett Reinvents the Magazine–and Their Masthead