‘Magasin Archive’: Navigating the 2000s through teen magazines

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This digitized archive of youth and culture magazines represents a collective nostalgia for Y2K. In photo: Candy Magazine, Nov.-Dec. 1999 and Seventeen Philippines, May 2005. Photo courtesy of @GLOSSYARCHIVE/TWITTER

For those of us who spent the early 2000s in adolescence, it’s hard to remember this period in life without a memory involving the aspirational content of teen glossies. Magazines like Candy, Total Girl, and Meg were our guide to navigating through recurring themes in our teen years, from the craze over crushes, preppy fashion inspiration, to the newest bubblegum lip gloss must-have.

These days, Gen Zs have co-opted the era and instigated a cultural yearning for its visuals and style. But for those who have actually lived through the early 2000s, this Y2K fascination represents a desire to return to reassuring and simpler times.

One Twitter account is recapturing this period through magazine scans. Opened last Aug. 31, @glossyarchive is a Twitter account presenting a time capsule of teen magazines from the ‘90s to the early 2000s. Run by 27-year-old Fiel Estrella, this digitized archive of her collection of dominantly Filipino youth and culture magazines offers a wealth of Y2K references. The cuts and clippings visually communicate the era of pop culture themed around interchanging love teams, TV heartthrobs, street style, a guide decoding what your crush’s text really means and other trends that we would now consider “jologs.”

Estrella, a writer and editor, toyed with the idea of starting this account in early January. After coming across a clear file full of torn-out pages from Teen Vogue and Nylon, she was reminded of the role that magazines played in her life personally. “Magazines have been a big part of who I am, which is definitely why I’ve ended up doing what I do for a living,” she said.

While her own collection dates back to the early 2000s, a significant number of her glossies were newly acquired. Some time in 2017, Estrella found herself in a phase of purchasing old copies of Candy and Seventeen off sellers on eBay and Carousell. “I found a listing for dozens of issues at a very affordable price, so I didn’t think twice and went for it,” she said.

Estrella spent July and August hauling stacks of magazines and reorganizing issues on shelves in a way that made it easier for her to access, pull out, and return them easily. Equipped with a scanner and a sizable collection of Filipino titles from the early 2000s, Estrella set out to give people access to an archive to an adolescence she lived through.

Once anything interesting or relevant page caught her attention, she would go through the scanning process she perfected. She said, “I set up my scanner app, press down the page so it’s completely flat, wait a minute or so for it to upload. But I didn’t expect that it would actually take a lot of brain power trying to decide which pages were worth that effort. I went through each issue — I’ve scanned about 80 or so of them, cover to cover.” She divided the scans into different categories: covers and advertisements, fashion and beauty, culture and celebrities.

“I scan anything that I think would resonate with people and fuel nostalgia, and anything that I think could be inspiration for art and design,” she said. “Also anything that reflects the trends of the moment, whether they’re silly or surprisingly ahead of their time.”

Investigating the demographic of her over 7,000-user following, Estrella discovered that about 40% of her audience was too young to have actually read these 2000s teen magazines, with a good number of them being below 17 years old. By digitizing an archive of print magazines, Estrella employs the benefit of media to be easily accessible, providing her younger followers with a portal peeking into what she describes as the golden era of Filipino teen magazines.

“These magazines truly shaped who I am,” said Marla Miniano-Umali, former editor of Candy and Cosmopolitan Philippines. Before Miniano-Umali started her career running glossies, she grew up as a true-blue Candy girl. “Candy, Seventeen, Girlfriend, Teen Vogue — they taught how to make friends, gain confidence, find my style, talk to difficult people, live through embarrassing moments, and deal with crushes and heartbreak,” she added. “It's so cringey and inauthentic now for a brand to claim to be someone's best friend, but at that time it felt completely accurate.”

“It's so cringey and inauthentic now for a brand to claim to be someone's best friend, but at that time it felt completely accurate.”

Visual artist Wawi Navarozza, who was also a well sought-out fashion photographer for magazines in the 2000s, highlights how working with magazines shaped the way she understood production and how to establish a workflow and collaborate with others. “Magazines, to me, filter out the noise of a rather hyperstimulated world. They have a pulse of the times we’re in and even of the time ahead,” she said.

The way Estrella talks about magazines is both romantic and reverential. She likens the act of flipping through pages of these magazines to time traveling. Beyond rediscovering old “gimmick” spots that have since shut down and what the “boho look” looked like in 2005, these magazines embody life lessons that she held onto as she navigated her teen years. These youth and culture glossies punctuated defining moments in adolescent life, shaping our tastes and telling stories that mirrored our day-to-day experiences.

“For that brief period, I love that magazines weren’t always about the celebrity and spectacle of it all,” added Estrella. “They covered timeless topics about dating, friendship, family, school, and your whole self. They were more alternative and creative than they were given credit for. They opened up this whole world for you.”

Miniano-Umali also described Y2K teen magazines as pure and hopeful. “At their core, [the magazines] inspired you to dream big, have fun, and love yourself for who you are,” she said.

“Magazines by then had learned to let readers be their own person and just to gently guide them towards becoming the best version of themselves without conforming to certain societal standards [because] they had the range to cover niche subcultures,” said Estrella. “It was the time when a best friend didn’t just need to mean a person — it could mean your favorite magazine as well.”