Fashion and sport have a long-standing love affair. A new multimedia publication from GQ Style’s former deputy editor Elgar Johnson is looking to put that front and centre.
CircleZeroEight will launch Apr. 26 and run digitally and in print. Its goal is to use both fashion and sport to highlight important cultural issues.
“We’re living in a time where sportspeople [and sports brands] have so much influence,” Johnson said. “Sportspeople don’t want to talk about just sport anymore. They want to be involved in politics, art and in music and want to express themselves through fashion. Previously they wouldn’t have been given the space to do this.”
Johnson started in the fashion industry as a model before working for i-D Magazine, where he eventually became senior fashion editor. He later joined GQ Style as a fashion director and was promoted to deputy editor in 2017. Despite his success, Johnson said he always felt constrained in what he could say, particularly around issues of social and racial justice.
“In previous roles, I’ve always tried to push this conversation forward as much as I can without getting fired,” said Johnson. “Because if you don’t, then what’s the point?”
With the launch of CircleZeroEight, Johnson aims to create a platform that speaks to the issues he cares about and makes them accessible through the lenses of sport and fashion.
The move is in part a response to the last two years. Johnson, whose father is Jamaican, felt both compelled and empowered to speak up in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in 2020. At the time, he was also working on GQ Style’s 15th-anniversary issue, which drew on current events with a theme of liberation, and watching the ways popular athletes like footballers Marcus Rashford and Héctor Bellerín used their platforms to drive important conversations. It was a turning point that increased Johnson’s desire to create his own platform.
Johnson has appointed Hazel Cross, an experienced PR and brand strategist, as CircleZeroEight’s managing editor. The magazine’s first edition will feature contributions from notable fashion names including Katie Grand, the director of Perfect Magazine; emerging menswear designer and choreographer Saul Nash; and British photographer Ewen Spencer.
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