Off the peg Until now, British men only had one magazine to tell them why their lives weren't complete without Velcro. All that is about to change.
Saturday 19 September 1998
dedicated to men's fashion (as
opposed to the usual adventures, interviews and gadgets) was Arena Homme Plus. It launched, way ahead of itself, back in 1993, and has just published its 10th issue. It sells 30,000 copies twice a year.
If the latest issue is to be believed, stylish men are obsessed by Velcro. They ask several pop stars: "Would you wear it?" Mostly, the answer is no. The joke is the celebs they chose to ask are all somewhat naff (Gary Barlow, Mick Hucknall). You can almost hear the trendier-than-thou Arena Homme Plus editors chuckling. It says a lot about the magazine and its rarefied tastes, and very little about British men.
This is about to change. Loaded launched a separate fashion magazine for men at the end of August, imaginatively called Loaded Fashion and subtitled "the clothes you need for the next six months". It is full of blokes, shirts, jeans and belts, and a few near-naked women (of course). If Arena Homme Plus is the Prada of magazines, then Loaded Fashion is the Mr Byrite. What about the middle ground? The Jigsaw of magazines? Yesterday, the most popular consumer title in the country, FHM, launched FHM Collections, a twice- yearly fashion magazine for men. Sound familiar? Its editor, Ed Needham, says: "It [Homme Plus] is what we hope our new title is not going to be. We want it to be for the man who doesn't necessarily know a lot about fashion but would like to know more. I see Collections as offering guidance. Half the battle is knowing what's available."
Good news for men? It's hard to tell. These last two new magazines could be responding to all the hype about men becoming more fashion-aware, spending more on designer labels, beauty products, and cosmetics, but there is actually very little truth to back it up. Instead, a recent survey conducted by the Menswear Council says that reports that men have become more fashionable are completely unfounded. Its survey reveals that over 45 per cent of men only buy clothes when they absolutely have to, and 75 per cent see shopping as a chore. Compare this with the fact that 81 per cent of British women are attracted by men with good dress sense and there is a big discrepancy, which women know all too well.
So now that there's a fashion magazine for every kind of guy, will we see a marked improvement in the way men dress? "Everyone wears clothes, everyone has money, and everyone shops," asserts Needham. So it's only a matter of time before "Mr I hate shopping" becomes "Mr I'm over Levi's, give me Evisu"
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