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The Rise Of Men’s Fashion Magazines

For the fashionable male It’s been a lengthy drought. In the past, after decades of being obliterated by the majority style magazines, there is an influx of new magazines focused on the masculine side of of dressing.

With new titles such as P.O.V., Maxim, Icon and Dossier all set to grab readers that traditional magazines have left off, there’s an enthralling new generation of publishers that want to be the prime source of real stuff for real guys.

As the new mags struggle to be noticed and heard icons like Details as well as Esquire are undergoing their own highly anticipated revamps with new editorial teams as well as fresh fashion-related content. Also, Men’s Journal, that hulky purveyor of biking and biceps is now embracing the latest trends in fashion.

Magazines aren’t as simple to classify as they appear. However, most magazines designed for men have a combination of these elements including music, sports and fashion, as well as money fitness, technology and women.

There are a myriad of formulas, allowing this field of work to cover the most diverse of magazines such as Playboy Men’s Health, GQ. All three have a common recipe for success: a money column here, a naked female there, ab workouts in between.

Beyond the features The magazines have an advertising partnership. Within each magazine, you’ll find the Tommy Hilfigers, Gaps, Chryslers and Budweisers. But, increasingly they’re the first two, which are fashion ads–that publishers are most keen to capture.

“Right currently, fashion accounts for 40% of our advertisingbase] and it could end up being more than half,” says Drew Massey director of the three-year-old P.O.V. Playboy Editor Richard Kinsler says fashion advertising is “absolutely important.” This is also true for younger publications such as Vibe and Spin music magazines that attract mostly male audience. There, fashion accounts for more than 50% of advertising, says John Rollins, publisher for both of the male fashion magazine.

But why the sudden surge of new publications and editorial relaunches? In the case of the new magazines, it’s simple. Publishers want a piece of an advertising base with lots of cash to spend. They see a need in the market for accurate, service-oriented fashion coverage.

“Our purpose is not to be too serious or to be another insipid fashion magazine,” Massey assured P.O.V. readers last month. “We [want] to sift between the noise and offer the classic style that will help you look and feel great.”

This is a good option for magazines for men according to Paul Wilmot of Wilmot Communications and former Conde Nast executive. “Men are looking for quality service. They want their concerns addressed in a manner that is efficient. Period.”

Men also need advice according to industry analyst David Wolfe, creative director of the Doneger Group. “There’s an enormous opportunity there for a practical book. How long should a neckerchief be? Which way do I tie bow ties? The world isn’t bound by Gucci on one side and Armani on the other.”

Every publication has an individual voice in editorial that is used to determine the tone of the content, choose contributors, and also sign up advertisers. Sometimes, this voice is opposed to the magazine’s fashion coverage. Certain fashion editors prefer to dictate trends than read them. Since publishing is an enterprise, there’s also a desire, whether spoken or un-, in assuaging advertisers.

Even the powerful GQ and Details Conde Nasta’s men’s patriarchs of fashion, can seem incompatible to the “real” coverage Wolfe describes. GQ is proud of its affluent educated, white-collar, and educated readership but do Wall Street types or Orange County lawyers have the hubris to put on Comme des Garcons suits, Missoni sweaters, and Prada boots? It’s a white-suit, blue-suit and a red tie audience, Brooks Brothers, but not Fred Segal. Does the cutting-edge Details audience buy the well-known Dolce & Gabbana trousers and John Bartlett coats or turn to Levi’s jeans and Gap shirts?

Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and W are viewed by a few in the trade to be aspirational publications. Many of their readers, whatever their size, shape or bank account, are enthralled by taking beautiful pictures of gorgeous clothing on gorgeous women. But many readers of men’s magazines, says the designer of men’s clothing Gene Meyer, are different. “Most men receive their fashion direction from peer groups and from their friends or colleagues at work.”

However, editors are working on making their style coverage better “accessible,” says Michael Caruso as the new editor of Details. “I want readers to be able do exactly what the models on the shoots are doing and buy the things they’re wearing.”

At Spin magazine, fashion director Jill Swid looks at clothes as the magazine looks at issues. “I do not create a story inspired by fashion trends. I base it on cultural topics and happenings on the streets; I try to mirror the lifestyle of our readers. Every Spin reader is a buyer of sneakers and jeans, which is why that’s an integral part of my stories.” In the same way, Men’s Journal is sure to show off the best of hiking style and ski slope sexiness.

It’s no surprise that the reader men’s magazines want to attract is more fashion-conscious than ever before. He’s healthy, fit, and even slightly vain. He’s worried about his appearance and is putting greater effort in his clothing choices. Yet, he’s not the suburban couple with two children and a dog so loved by publishers and advertisers. It’s the younger, non-corporate often non-white males who are driving fashion trends.

It doesn’t matter what you call him: urban, street, Euro, he’s the one who buys the latest designer brands. The gay-focused Out magazine’s readers are highly fashionable and, as per experts in the field, spends more on clothing than male readers of more traditional publications. The music-oriented Vibe readership shares an identical profile. “It’s about imaging and branding,” says Rollins. “The urban music lover would like to be seen wearing Armani and Versace along with Phat Farm and Nike in an image that says”I’m cool.’ “

For the casually stylish man to the sloppy fashion aficionado the present state of men’s publishing brings a welcome change: choice. With the number of magazines available, he’s almost guaranteed to find one that can speak his name.