If the clothes maketh the man, surely the magazine he reads defines his style persuasion. A recent surge in new fashion mags is catering to a whole new style spectrum, covering every thread of the fashion industry, but most importantly it’s telling us that what we’re reading is as important as what we wear.
A trip to you local bookshop to catch up on the latest style news can be as confusing and daunting as finding an outfit in Selfridges: i.e. there is just too much choice. What was once considered the staple in fashion reading, consisting of Vogue (often nicknamed the UK’s fashion bible), Elle, Marie Claire, The Sunday Times Style, and for the directional bunch, The Face, is no longer the case. These days the magazine racks are filled with abundant glossies ranging from the uber directional photographic coverage and printed on expensive paper, such as Tank and 10, to the crazy ‘loca’ tongue-in-cheek fashion rag Super Super to the gossip and shopping pages of Grazia.
Whilst the reigning publishing houses such as Emap, Conde Nast, Hachette Filipacchi and NatMags continue to churn out their beloved glossies, it is newcomers such as .Cent, Above Magazine, Wonderland, Flux and Marmalade that are covering new fashion territory. Tank, for example, features high-end, designer mens and womenswear, presented in a fresh, minimal sort of way, very clean, very organic. Their collaboration with the Observer newspaper has seen the birth of a new quarterly fashion supplement called O: by Tank, covering the same stories as most magazines – menswear, womenswear, the season’s must-have accessories, but in a clever layout that is interesting to read, but this time gets household distribution rather than niche (i.e. limited) readership of its main publication.
Fashion, in a consumer sense, is all about lifestyle, and new publications are catering to the needs of those with specific fashion requirements. Take the year-old publication Happy Magazine. It’s sister version, an American fashion catalogue called Lucky, is the shopping bible of all publications. Its directory lists everything according to category, from specific accessories (handbags, wallets, jewellery) to tailoring, beauty and homeware. Page after page of single product shots has proven to be a winning formula with readers. Granted, it doesn’t have the glamour of Harper’s Bazaar editorial or the richness of Pop, but so many times artisan fashion shoots obscure what readers really want, which is to see the garment in its full glory. Yes, fashion is interesting when it is shot in a contrived, artistic way on beautiful people, however, its refreshing to see that what is printed on the page is how you’ll find it in store.
Also newsworthy is the rise in men’s fashion and lifestyle interest. FHM, the bloke publication that used to only cater to a heterosexual, low on the style-stakes kind of guy, now publishes a biennial fashion supplement called FHM Col lections, which covers the men’s ready-to-wear shows, seasonal trends and grooming and is a far cry from its borderline pornographic lo-fi style brother. GQ Style has taken it a step further, also publishing a seasonal fashion glossy, featuring high-end menswear, decadent editorial, but focussing more on fashion and less on the literature, motor interest, and reviews as featured in its monthly publication. Other men’s mags include Up Street, a little more camp than the rest, but featuring beautiful clothes nonetheless, 10 which has rounded up the UK’s most notable editors and journalists to guest edit and contribute, and Another Man, a menswear version of Another Magazine, hot off the press from the same publishers as Dazed & Confused.
Fashion supplements are becoming as important as the magazines themselves, and Vogue’s catwalk pages, Harper’s Bazaar accessories and business supplements and Tatler’s restaurant guide are all extra publications that cater to a niche lifestyle, hoping to gauge your consumer interest. Last year’s debut of Lula magazine, an ultra-girly publication featuring stories of Lolita-esque poetry and soft lens shots is in stark contrast to the bold Pop, the style mecca with Katie Grand at its helm.
Art Review, once a publication featuring long-winded articles on art, galleries, collectors and deals, this year revamped its image to embody art in a lifestyle way and now features two yearly fashion issues and regularly covers the art-meets-fashion territory, a boundary that is becoming less and less visible.
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And so it seems, what you read these days is as relevant as what you’re wearing. Is that British Vogue or French Vogue you’re reading? Do you prefer Elle’s tell-all fashion non-sense to Marmalade’s inspiring, but sometimes futile lifestyle pages. For glamorous fashion, you can’t go wrong with 10 or Crash, and if you want to know who’s the next big thing in fashion, i-D and Dazed are your best bet. Ahh, so little time, so much to read! useful