Maybe it’s just me, but every month, when I’m looking for material that’s going to help me figure out the latest trends, what might work for my body and so forth, I get a little overwhelmed. There’s so much information out there, so many magazines that are marketed as fashion magazines, but often prove to be disappointments once I get them home. I’m sure some of you feel the same way (“why did I waste that $6 on a copy of…….”) So, here’s a quick run-down on some of what’s out there on the magazine stands, and how to spot a hardcore fashion magazine when you see one.
Let’s start with a standard: Cosmopolitan. Cosmo lists itself as a magazine “for women” that features “fashion, sex advice, and dating tips.” Yet upon close examination, the age Cosmo considers women is 18-34, and there is evidence it may be reaching for the top-tier of a younger demographic. Guess the rest of us–those of us over 34–kind of don’t count as women?? Aside from that, with just a cursory glance of the cover headlines we can see that the magazine is more about sex advice, psychoanalizing the behaviors of guys, with a sprinkling of career advice and a few bits of fashion. Overall, if I’m looking for strictly fashion, I might not want to consider Cosmo because it slants heavily towards lifestyle rather than fashion.
Cosmo, however, is not alone among the mags aimed at the 18-34 age demographic. Many have a heavy focus on sex and dating advice, as well as on issues of building a career and so forth, with fashion as something of a secondary focus.
As for magazines for women out of the 18-34 age demographic, many of them are lifestyle magazines with a smattering of fashion as well–only they are advertised more as lifestyle magazines. A little less confusion there. So when I purchase a Real Simple magazine, I know that I’m going to get a lot of recipes (I usually buy it for recipes) and a little bit of information on fashion for the season, what beauty products hot to purchase from the local drugstore or specialty store. And I’m going to get a bunch of overly-long (IMO) feature stories on personal experiences of mothers, single mothers, women and their relationships with their mothers, and so forth. Considering the target demographic ranges from 25 to at least 60, it is more than likely publishing the kinds of information that many women in that demographic are looking for in a lifestyle magazine.
I’m not looking for lifestyle information. My lifestyle is a little different from what I ‘m going to see in the pages of lifestyle magazines, so I don’t care to read about the experiences published in their pages I’m looking for hardcore fashion. And not “fast fashion” like I’d find in H&M or Forever 21. Or celebrity style information–who’s wearing what and when. I’m looking for real fashion–for information on collections coming out, and for what’s on the runways. I’m looking for solid information that’s going to help me “forecast” my wardrobe.
At first, one might think I’d go to Vogue–but not necessarily so. The average age of a typical Vogue reader is 37, so Vogue would be a good choice. However, when an article on full-figured women considered a 34D to be “large” I had to kind of laugh, and stopped taking Vogue all that seriously. Plus, I’m not all that interested in their celebrity coverage.
However, a good foundation of reading Vogue when I was young–in my 20′s–really did help me to develop a good eye for spotting trends. So, I can’t say that Vogue is all that bad.
Right now, the best of the hardcore fashion magazines–without going for that subscription to Women’s Wear Daily– would be Harper’s Bazaar and W. Yes, W’s fancy-schmancy celebrity pictorials can make me want to wretch, but overall, there’s some really edgy fashion and style info in W–fantastic info on art exhibits, too. Yes, it’s a bit snobbish, but it’s as hardcore in its fashion as they come. Perhaps W could be referred to as the magazine for those who want fashion to actually be their lifestyle (although that’s pretty tough to maintain.
Harper’s Bazaar has a few similarities to W, but without the pretensions. As I have become more acquainted with HB, it’s become a most enjoyable true monthly fashion read. Not surprisingly then, the average age of a HB reader is 40, with a median income in the high $60Ks (I also read in another piece that readers are also primarily single.) Harper’s Bazaar most definitely hardcore fashion–consisting of a lot of ads, short and snappy lifestyle related articles but no real heavy lifestyle advice oriented articles (whew!)
(Photo credit: sassattack)hardcore as they come.
Another personal favorite is InStyle. Yes, InStyle gets a little celebrity crazy sometimes, but more often than not, I’m able to see lots and lots of great fashion and lots of little pictorials on trends and what’s coming up. It’s one of the more “chock full” magazines than some of the others, which makes it a pleasure to read (not to mention its great special feature publications, which come out at various times of the year, such as their makeover issue which came out in September.) Another plus to InStyle is that it shows women of varying ages and varying body types. Novel concept!
So, if you want to get the most hardcore fashion information, the stuff that’s going to help you build your wardrobe from season to season, and don’t give a whit about lifestyle articles (because you’re pretty happy with yours as it is) then stick to Harper’s Bazaar, W, and InStyle. You’ll save yourself lots of aggravation and gain some great fashion knowledge.
(Altbough few of these magazines give information on fashion as an industry. If you want that information, you have to go to WWD or to a whole bunch of business sites for their retail business reports. I tend to think that maybe the powers that be who are designing the editorial direction of lots of magazines believe their readers aren’t interested in industry information. They might, however, be surprised.)