Meet Ren: the basketball magazine that’s made for kicks

by Steve Watson in July 2014
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Most independent magazines are made for fun. Some begin with a business model too, but that irresistible impulse to publish tends to be fuelled by passion, and new basketball magazine Ren places it front and centre.

The magazine’s opening text explains: “Twelve months ago we sat down and started talking about making a magazine about the sport we all love. Not to make money, not to make a job out of it, but just because we thought it might be fun. It was.”

Focusing on a different city for each issue, Ren magazine hits the road to tell basketball’s many local stories. The first issue is dedicated to Los Angeles, and its Portland-based editor Ben Taylor says he has his sights set on places like New York, the Bay Area and Virginia, as well as international hot spots like Shanghai, Rio or Paris.

Ren magazine

And, he says, this locally-driven wanderlust is core to the magazine’s mission: “The main thing for us is we didn’t want to be forced by the news agenda into covering the things that everyone else is covering. We wanted this to be something you could pick up in a year’s time and it feel like the stories are still relevant.”

The desire for timelessness also informed their decision to print. He acknowledges that he and his team are “obsessed” with magazines, but says that print also brought a facet that would otherwise have been difficult to achieve.

“The thing with digital is that it’s throwaway. We wanted to make sure that on every page of Ren you could feel the effort and love we put into it, and I think you can do that in digital but it’s not easy, and it would have made it harder to get across that passion we have for the game.”

Ren magazine

With a limited run of 1,000 copies distributed in select outlets around the world (including Colette in Paris, bookshops in Tokyo and Osaka and several Ace Hotels) there’s a temptation to go bigger for issue two, especially with a smattering of brand partners already on board. But Ben says they’re not about to let business come before pleasure.

“Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t love to spend all day talking about basketball and making magazines? But our intention is definitely not for this to all of a sudden become a business – we’re just doing it for the fun of it, so our main focus is just to run with it. If an issue goes well it allows us to make another issue and that’s all we’re really bothered about for now.”

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