Fashion, like so many other industries, was upended by the pandemic. Brands that have made luxury leather goods for decades switched over to producing masks and hospital gowns; in-person runway shows turned into interactive video games; storefronts spent months boarded up, with some never reopening. It was a bleak year for retail, too. Still, creativity flourished.
In the publishing industry, specifically, print magazines (which had already been near-death before 2020) found new and refreshing ways to sell fantasy and tell powerful stories, especially through their covers. They didn't feature the same celebrities, wearing the same three designer looks, shot by the same three photographers as they might've any other year. In fact, many ditched the idea of fantasy altogether and in its place sold something much more valuable and essential to 2020: hope.
Frontline heroes and activists appeared alongside pop culture headliners like Beyoncé, Harry Styles, Rihanna and Zendaya on newsstands. If you looked closer at the credits, you'd also see more Black designers, photographers and creatives contributing to these issues. (Zendaya's September InStyle cover, for example, featured all Black designers, styled by Law Roach and shot by AB+DM.)
Ahead, we've chosen the most memorable covers from 2020. See them all in the gallery below.