What started as a joke about the corporate world concept of "Casual Friday" gave rise to the new indie men's zine and brand Chest Hair Friday (www.chesthairfriday.com). In 2007, founder Brent Rosen was an alternative fuels lobbyist for a car manufacturer. He opted for open-necked shirts on the few Fridays out of the year he didn't have to spend huddled on Capitol Hill in a suit, and he honed his palate for "exposing himself" to adventure at various Washington, D.C. happy hours, rubbing elbows with musicians, bartenders, restaurateurs and government employees.
Mixing and mingling with people from all professions not only inspired one of the brand's tag lines ("Expose yourself") but also opened Rosen's eyes to the benefits of creative collaboration. Chest Hair Friday published its first zine this year in New Orleans, but having contributing writers, photographers and other creatives scattered from New York City to Austin, Texas makes content that covers topics from travel to street art to the appropriate beverage for an afternoon bocce ball party easy to compile. The co-founders are Will Abner, the "food and beverage guy" as Rosen calls him, who is based in Birmingham, Alabama, and Will Farley, formerly of Billy Reid menswear, who covers fashion from New York City.
There's New Orleans-centric content (Rosen's paean to the ham and cheese po-boy at Gene's Po-boys on Elysian Fields Avenue, for example), but there's also a photo essay by New Orleans rapper Cypher about the streets of Los Angeles, shot entirely with disposable cameras loaded with 35 mm black-and-white film.
Rosen also hosts Chest Hair Friday's podcast, which features interviews with locals such as Mason Hereford of the restaurant Turkey and the Wolf and photographer Rasharie Brown, and an upcoming episode features Alba Huerta, owner and beverage director of Houston's Julep restaurant.
"We're not chasing celebrities," Rosen says of the brand's broad content coverage. "We know who this is for. We don't know how many people that actually is — it could just be the three of us and we're having a blast, but I think it's bigger than that. ... We're trying to grow and expand and make it ... more than an inside joke between 2,500 people. ... It seems like it has the legs to be something more. ... I see Chest Hair Friday as a mission statement."
Zines are available through the online store and at Hattie Sparks and Simone's Market.