The power of the September issue and all the Sept. 2020 issues out now

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There’s nothing like working on the September issue of a magazine. Although those days are behind me, I remember the nostalgia of everyone coming together to celebrate what is, arguably, the most important issue of the year for magazines. The September issue of a magazine is so important, there’s an entire documentary about it.

While “The September Issue,” a documentary that chronicles how Vogue’s editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and staff compile and prep for their big September issue, is over a decade old, much of media has had a more recent reckoning of prioritization, especially over the past few months in particular. With a global health crisis and civil unrest for Black and brown communities in the fight for Black Lives Matter (the movement and the moment), the industry has had to question what’s important and what’s pure fluff.

September has, generally speaking, been the time to shine for many glossy publications. Whether it was in the form of high-intense editorial shoots, the lavish budgets spent on talent (and your cover star, undoubtedly), the trend forecasts we would see for the following year or the return to life after summer getaways, a September issue can feel like it’s more than just the superfluous and mundane.

But September issues have also historically been riddled with white models, white celebrities and white influencers. It was not long ago that seeing a person of color or member of a marginalized community on a magazine cover appeared “edgy” and “out of the box.”

Alyssa Bereznak, in her piece “How The Magazine Industry’s Identity Crisis Is Playing Out On Its Front Page” for The Ringer, notes that “a magazine cover is all at once a cultural statement, a conversation starter, a negotiating asset, a digital selling point, a mood.”

Despite print magazine sales dropping, almost every publishing company still has one piece of consumer real estate — the cover page. “The cover is a concept so ingrained in our lives that it may even outlive the industry that made it indispensable. In the meantime, it’s one of the reasons the industry still exists,” Bereznak explained.

So, why do I say all of this? Well, because times are changing. As we continue to bring diversity and inclusion to the forefront of fashion and beauty, we should expect to see a changing of the guards, which includes more visibility on the things that matter and less about turning the same monotonous wheel over and over again.

Celebrities have long been the go-to cover choices, but, this year, brands like British Vogue and O, The Oprah Magazine have decided that there’s something more captivating than a red carpet moment: a political one. After all, fashion can be political, and what better way to bring awareness than to plaster activism on your front page?

Below, I’ve rounded up some of the Sept. 2020 issues that have hit the market thus far, not only to spotlight patterns and trends that (hopefully) are emerging but to also give us all a little visual inspiration in these weird times.

I hope the September issue inspires you as much as it has me — for a better world and a better future for us all.

Kerry Washington for Town & Country

Credit: Town & Country

Zendaya for InStyle

Credit: InStyle

Lala Anthony for Essence

Credit: Essence

Rihanna for Harper’s Bazaar

Credit: Harper’s Bazaar

Cardi B for Elle

Credit: Elle

Hunter Schafer for Allure

Credit: Allure

Janelle Monáe for Shape

Credit: Shape

Joey King for Cosmopolitan

British Vogue

Credit: British Vogue

Breonna Taylor for O, The Oprah Magazine

Credit: O Magazine

Kendall Jenner for Architectural Digest

Credit: Architectural Digest

Tessa Thompson for Porter magazine

Credit: Porter

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