Men's magazines, the most schizophrenic sector in the industry. Barely a month goes by without a redesign being flaunted by one of the main players. Recent times have seen Maxim, FHM, Loaded, Arena and Esquire all under the surgeon's knife, with Jack soon to be prepped for theatre! The latest magazine off the operating table is Condé Nast's GQ.
Dylan Jones is at pains to point out in the June issue that GQ is not changing its appearance due to times of crisis, as many have before, but evolving from a "position of strength". GQ will first have to build on the Jul-Dec 02 circulation rise to fully justify its editor's words!
Changes have been made to the editorial staff - most notably the art editor, Paul Solomons, after a mere five issues, makes way for Steven Baillie (ex-Arena, New York Times Magazine and the Face). Toby Wiseman joins from Esquire as commissioning editor, while Paul Henderson has returned to the GQ fold as health & sports editor from Jack (a fact duly noted by Jones!).
Within the magazine, each major section now starts on a right hand page with an ad site opposite, all columns and opinion pages have been brought together into a new section called "Talk", while the pre-well and fashion sections have been distinctly separated by a previously absent ad page.
The typefaces and headlines have been changed and the customary "cleaning up" has been done creating more white space and a slightly less cluttered feel. A nice touch is the colour coding at the top of each page, while the front cover with reduced straplines will stand out better at the news-stand.
The new GQ then looks good and is easier to read, so overall a job well done. However, this latest redesign further highlights the apparent identity crisis in the Men's market at present. No one appears to have found that magic formula that they are truly happy with. Readers are barely given time to get used to a format before we are told it is changing again. My advice - if it ain't broke, don't fix it!
This article was first published on Media Week