Out now at good rural newsagents: The magazine for downshifters


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The Independent Online

Ditched the rat-race for a downshifted life of chicken-rearing, crochet stitches and long country walks? A new lifestyle magazine will target the laidback adherents of Britain's thriving “go slow” movement.

The first edition of The Simple Things, launched this Thursday, will include features on growing your own vegetables, rejecting a new coffee table because you can accessorise an old tea chest, and the joys of a muddy ramble through the countryside.

With its cover line "celebrating the things that matter most", the new monthly claims to be a publication for the recession-battered who want to "downshift and backpedal, whose love of food is in the preparing and sharing and who are as happy to revamp and upcycle as to buy new."

Future Publishing green-lit the magazine after consumer research suggested that modern-day families are resurrecting the dream of self-sufficient living, once comically portrayed in the 1970s BBC sitcom The Good Life.

Demand for allotments is growing by 20 per cent annually and vegetable seed sales are booming. There are now 500,000 chicken-keepers in the UK, up 1,200 per cent in seven years. Sewing machine sales are soaring as a spirit of "make do and mend" replaces designer purchases.

Bloggers have charted the rising influence in Britain of the "go slow" movement, which began in Italy in 1986 as a campaign to support local traders against an "invasion" of fast food outlets.

But the movement, which rejects the dizzying pace of the modern world in favour of "relaxed entertaining" for close friends, traditional craft skills, organic vegetable boxes and home baking, is also attractive to advertisers.

The first issue of The Simple Things contains its share of beautifully-designed interiors, vintage radios to die for and a spread on shopping, albeit of the thrift kind. Experts delivering "lifestyle tips", which might generate consumer anxiety, are not permitted.

Katherine Raderecht, group publisher for Future's creative portfolio, said: "We picked up from blogs a real feeling that people are becoming more in touch with tradition, nature and sharing.

"The Simple Things is primarily aimed at women in their late 30s who are sick of money, money, money. They've been through that and are slowing down. What I buy doesn't make me happy; it's cooking for friends, taking the kids to the beach, or finding an old trunk and doing it up. There's a generation of women whose mothers never taught them how to sew, who are learning how to crochet."

Although the magazine includes an article on "why trees matter", Ms Raderecht said the concept was not a revival of "hippie" values. And far from rejecting technology, digital interactivity is important. "It will be sold as an app on the Apple newsstand and our blog already has 10,500 Facebook likes," Ms Raderecht said.

Case study: 'We embrace a slower way of life'

Karen Sahoy, 43, works in events and marketing

"We moved from London to Bath and have embraced a less fast-paced way of life. We keep chickens which give us eggs. They're great for the kids, too.

"I grow my own vegetables which saves us money buying expensive salad leaves. I'm into sewing and even made the curtains. I still work but we've reached a position where we're able to indulge our interests in simpler things like making jam, enjoying time with friends or making a fire to cook sausages. Those are my interests and I hope that there is space for a magazine that reflects that."