The Financial Times just published an article about the growing success of grown-up men’s magazines, paying particular attention to Men’s Vogue, which is edited by Jay Fielden (pictured above in a dapper silk-knit tie):
One of Mr Fielden’s most artful sleights-of-hand has been his treatment of fashion. He has banished male models from the editorial pages and instead outfitted subjects such as tennis star Roger Federer and survivalist Bear Grylls in clothes that are stylish but accessible. It is a Trojan Horse strategy of sneaking fashion into the magazine on the backs of interesting, well-rounded men whom other men might care to read about.
“Fashion is not a word that translates well to men in America,” Mr Fielden says. His readers are more comfortable with the notion of “looking good”.
While getting rid of pouty male models is all well and good, Fielden seems to conflate “fashion” with “looking good.” Fashion, as women’s magazines demonstrate, is about constant change, with a focus on what’s “in” for this or that season. To be fashionable requires the ability to buy lots of new clothes with the “right” labels. It’s not the word “fashion” that most American men have a problem with—it’s the very idea. They may care about looking good, even having style, but that’s something entirely different from being on the sartorial cutting edge. Unless that distinction is kept in mind, Fielden’s magazine will likely have a hard time finding its audience.