Sleaze hits the high street

Jennifer Rodger looks at a newcomer to the crowded youth magazine market

After a year and a half of free distribution into the sweaty palms of clubbers, Sleaze Nation magazine is about to go on sale at WH Smith.

Launched in November 1996, this design-led club and lifestyle magazine attracts elusive young opinion-formers. Now it aims to take on the hangouts and hangers-on of youth culture, and make an impact among the ever-growing mass of style and listings magazines.

"There is a market hole," says a confident Jon Swinstead, Sleaze Nation's independent publisher and sole investor. "A lot of magazines are advertising- based, poorly written and bad quality."

Indeed, Sleaze Nation is different from other publications: it doesn't use the latest "It" person to scream "buy me" from a glossy cover, and with its thickly bound book format, varying typefaces and stunning visuals, it moves away from traditional magazine production values.

But as the media-savvy generation knows, you don't judge a magazine by its cover. Sleaze Nation may employ similar scenery to The Face and i- D, but it is not obsessed with pushing the boundaries of modern style. "I think it would be self-important to say we are pushing against boundaries," says Steve Beale, the magazine's editor. "Just being different helps to push boundaries.

"If anything, we are an anti-style magazine, but you have to know how to be stylish to be unstylish. One of the greatest assets of the members of our team is the way they can analyse popular psychology and culture."

This ability to be objective or even critical about popular culture is crucial to Sleaze Nation's engagement of readers aged between 16 and 35 - the most difficult group to target successfully. And the Sleaze Nation team have found that consumerism and descriptions of designer lifestyles aren't what their readers want. "We want to redress the balance between media and the public it represents," says Beale.

He is particularly concerned with common representations of clubbing culture. "A lot of magazines are very patronising," he says. In its mission to set the record straight, Sleaze Nation offers some new terminology.

It has declared the term "youth culture" redundant, as it implies disposability or that "the kids will grow out of it". Instead, the magazine talks about "modern subculture."

But its not all earnest sermons and semantics. Sleaze Nation aims to be humorous while making its points. "Modern subculture is wonderful," says Steve. "But we wanted people to lighten up a bit about culture; it is there to be enjoyed.

"We give more honest portrayals. Especially in youth music-style mags, everything is `brilliant' and people can be lauded who shouldn't be. We encourage young people wanting to be involved in the media, we profile some people who actually do have talent."

And the editorial team plan to do more than just write about new talent. There are plans for a merchandise company, linked to the magazine, which will showcase up-and-coming British designers.

Beale says he is also keen to involve local art colleges and creative talent in a rolling exhibition of club photographs.

It is impossible to be a successful magazine without advertising revenue, and when Sleaze Nation asked its "media-aware, young, but high-spending" readers: "Do you admire and respect a product for being `down with the programme' enough to advertise in Sleaze Nation?" - a whopping 94 per cent said yes.

Advertisers include Levis, Coca-Cola, Caterpillar, Kodak and Ericsson. Beale is relaxed about the uneasy balance between underground credibility and commercial viability. "We have to open things up, be accessible. Other underground magazines are far too self-indulgent," he says.

Speaking of indulgence, Sleaze Nation will soon host a series of parties around the country to coincide with their move on to high-street magazine shelves. It is hoped that the bashes will raise the magazine's profile among both potential readers and advertisers eager to ensnare the attractive 16-35 market.

Sleaze Nation also plans a youth consultancy service to provide advertisers with information on how best to target their readers.

Sleaze Nation, pounds 2, on sale at WH Smith from March.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

    £18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

    £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own