How i-D influenced fashion photography

As the iconic magazine turns 40, we examine how i-D’s embrace of subculture and the everyday reverberated across the fashion photography landscape

Terry and Tricia Jones launched i-D in 1980 in the high tide of post-punk and new wave, and these countercultural roots imbued the magazine from the outset. Terry was coming from the comparatively glossy world of British Vogue where he brought an unconventional twist to the magazine in his time as art director between 1972-1977, including the ‘green jelly’ cover shot by Willie Christie, which he sent to print despite some of the wider team’s best efforts to stop it.  

“As art director at British Vogue in the 70s, Terry Jones felt that there needed to be a publication that was engaging with new notions of street style, punk and popular culture that was being ignored by titles such as Vogue,” explains Adam Murray, pathway leader of the MA Fashion Communication: Fashion Image and BA Fashion Communication and Promotion courses at Central Saint Martins. “As with most good magazines, it was first made to respond to what other titles were ignoring – there was a need for it.”  

The magazine was born in a year that also saw the arrival of other magazines in the British publishing landscape (including, of course, Creative Review), namely style titles like Blitz, which shuttered in 1991, and The Face, which closed in 2004 before its 2019 revival. Though all three fashion publications are often lumped together, Blitz, founded by two Oxford graduates, was considered more high-brow, while The Face felt more polished with a “higher budget, production and finish”, according to Dean Davies, lecturer in Fashion Communication at UWE. “i-D’s first issue was incredibly DIY, a true reflection of the punk era of which it was born into,” he adds, noting i-D’s immediate and sustained focus on “culture and fashion from the street” as the key distinction

Top: Terry Jones’ archival collages from the 40th Anniversary Issue, photographed by Emma Lewis. Above: the cover of the first issue of i-D magazine in 1980