What We (and You) Could Learn from Men's Magazines

It was announced today that M, a soon-to-relaunch men's fashion magazine for guys in their 30s and 40s, is in the works. But before we graduate to M, it's probably as good a time as any to see how M stacks up against today's men's magazines.

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Today Fairchild Fashion Media announced that they're bringing back M magazine, which back in the 80's was initially known as M: The Civilized Man. "It will be a big beautiful magazine with a circulation of about 100,000," Fairchild Editorial Director Peter W. Kaplan told the New York Post's Keith Kelly. "It will be for guys in their thirties and forties who are Web-savvy but want to hold onto print."

It's an interesting move. And we get the gist: a high fashion-focused magazine for men, aimed at men of a certain age who might remember M in its glory days or younger men who want to enjoy a magazine printed on paper. It also makes sense since there's a dearth of American high fashion men's magazines.

The move is also brave. Magazines like Details and GQ under the larger Condé Nast umbrella (which includes Fairchild), could be considered competition. And perhaps more disconcerting for the launch of a glossy men's fashion magazine aimed at men in their 40s, is the fact that digital readers for these two publications are actually older than their paper readership. According to the media kits, the median age for Details' and GQ's online readership are 40.8 and 38 respectively, compared to the median age of their print readership: 33.2 and 34 .

"The other magazines are really mass circulation," Kaplan said. "We’re targeting men whose life is style, who see the world through the lens of style."

I'm basically one year off of Kaplan's intended demographic. But before graduating to the wild new world of M, it's probably as good a time as any to look back and see what we learned, what we didn't learn, and how M stacks up against the current crop of men's magazines:


Who They Say Reads It: A 32-year-old making around $72,000 per year (Household Income). 
When I Read It: As a wimpy 14-year-old until around the age of 19
What You Could Learn From Reading It: That you might be a hormonal heterosexual male who isn't old enough to buy Playboy or savvy enough to clear your Web browser. This dude-bro magazine for dude-bros who like fart jokes and scantily clad women largely shaped many young men's minds by teaching them how to rank a women's hotness in its "Hot 100", and also the various permutations of "scoring" and famously, "How to Cure a Feminist."

Overlap with M: None we can think of.


Who They Say Reads It: A 44-year-old making $60,000 per year ($87,000 HHI)
When I Read It: Age 20-present
What You Could Learn From Reading It: How to make a drink and "eat like a man", who The Sexiest Woman Alive is, and or how to Power Dress like an Alpha Male.

Overlap with M: Some. But Esquire does skew more practical than it does high fashion.

Men's Health

Who They Say Reads It: 37-year-olds who make $50,194 ($79,629 HHI)
When I Read It: Once or twice during my teens, a few times in my 20s when I thought I could achieve Six Pack Abs!
What You Could Learn From Reading It: That you might be a hormonal homosexual male who isn't old enough to buy Playgirl savvy enough to clear your Web browser. Okay, fine, that was just umm, my friend who told me about how he first started purchasing Men's Health.

You might also be a man who can count his body fat percentage on on hand (or have dreams of getting there), someone wanting to Eat This, Not That, and someone who never gets tired of reading about Six Pack Abs! Or someone wanting to know what kind of male underwear best suits their needs.

Overlap with M: Not that much, other than the occasional convergence of scantily clad, airbrushed models.


Who They Say Reads It: 33-year-olds who make $89,076 (HHI)
When I Read It: Umm, Adam Levine is the latest issue's cover boy which is weird considering he was just in the magazine a couple of months ago telling me how to get ripped through ...ummm. Oh. 
What You Could Learn From Reading It: That you're probably a homosexual. In the 90s, Details got into some trouble for its "Gay or..." back page feature by insinuating everyone was gay anyway. And it's always been GQ's gayer little brother, with articles that highlighted the sexiest male muscles that induced body dymosphia changed the way men looked at themselves. Also, that "Ass is the New Abs" and "Anal Sex is the New Deal-breaker."

Overlap with M: Probably a bit, their spreads have more edge than say "buying the perfect brown suit," but it seems like the magazine is really focused on being accessible (hence the new fitness focus).


Who They Say Reads It: 34-year-olds who make $77,643  (HHI)
When I Read It: Still do
What You Could Learn From Reading It: That Paul Newman is basically god.  That Roger Sterling knows how to pull off a gray suit, that dressing like James Dean will always be stylish, but not more stylish than Paul Newman. And that dressing up is super expensive. Oh, and there are articles about politics (and they're great, if you're into that sort of thing)

Overlap with M: They will probably be after the same advertisers, but that's where the overlap stops.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.