MEDIA: ALTERNATIVE LIFESTYLE - Swimming against the populist tide A new generation of ’so hip it hurts’ magazines has been spawned, but their very success could put the exclusivity they built themselves on at risk.

As the market for mainstream lifestyle magazines has gone from strength to strength in recent years, a new parallel market has developed for readers who want something a little more alternative than that on offer from the likes of IPC and EMAP.

As the market for mainstream lifestyle magazines has gone from

strength to strength in recent years, a new parallel market has

developed for readers who want something a little more alternative than

that on offer from the likes of IPC and EMAP.

The growth of this ’underground’ magazine sector was further fuelled

this year when The Face - the independent fashion magazine - was bought

by EMAP. That, combined with technological improvements allowing

magazines to be launched more cheaply, has led to the recent appearance

of a number of bright new magazines typically edited by people in their

early twenties.

The most recent addition, Limb by Limb, appeared on the newsstands last

month, following an innovative sticker-based promotional campaign.

Alison Hope, an account executive on the youth team at Ketchum Life,

says: ’There is a whole new niche developing with these slightly

off-the-mainstream titles for people who don’t want big brands, ’in your

face’ marketing and mainstream celebs.’

While these magazines are all broadly conventionally-formatted lifestyle

titles, they all have a desire to do things differently, and this often

means eschewing the expensive, glamorous approach of the glossies for

something more earthy and accessible. Street, rather than catwalk,

fashion, for example. Ali Bennett, senior press officer at the agency

Slice, says a large part of their success is their look which is very

much street style.

’These magazines are much closer to ground level - that is their

strength - they have often grown organically, like Sleazenation which

used to be given away as a free pamphlet,’ he adds. ’Their appeal is

that they say something about what is happening on the street - they are

very conscious of being cutting edge,’ added Hope.

When Sleazenation started it was so determined to be different it even

had a typeface that made it difficult to read. By their own success,

however, these magazines are likely to find themselves being swallowed

by the mainstream and losing their cherished independence. In the

meantime, they can still be useful PR vehicles.

’From a public relations point of view they are good,’ says Bennett,

’because they are always prepared to try something new, break something

from scratch or support something which is underground.’

Hope concurs that they are useful, ’especially for re-positioning a

straight-laced client’.


Position: editor

Launched: March 1999

Publisher: 4130 Publishing

Circulation: 55,000

Frequency: bi-monthly

Target readership: 18- to 30-year-old men and women

’Level is a magazine for people who do not need to be told what is good

and bad. The content I would say is diverse, including fashion and

music, but not catwalk stuff, more things we like doing - lifestyle.

’The problem with being underground is that you can be so underground no

one sees your magazine, and you have to make money. My job is to find

the balance. One way we do that is to encourage good contributors - real

people who live that lifestyle.

’Still, there is something for everyone in the magazine, my parents

could pick it up and find something in it.’


Position: publishing director

Launched: November 1996

Publisher: Sleazenation

Circulation: 46,000

Frequency: Monthly

Target readership: 18-35 men and women

’The content of Sleazenation is broad: we have arts, literature,

clubbing, music, fashion and TV. If there are elements of mainstream

culture that are interesting then we will feature them too.

’Sleazenation is different because of its visual content. We use a lot

of illustration, for example, and we do documentary photography. We have

correspondents in each of the big cities, a web site and we also have

club nights. The magazine was started as a fanzine two-and-a-half years

ago, and has gone from 16 to 132 pages. Now we want to capitalise on the

brand and keep growing.’


Position: Editor

Launched: 1999

Publisher: Speakeasy Media

Circulation: 20,000

Frequency: Bi-monthly

Target readership: 18- to 35-year-old Londoners

’Our readers are the kind of people who are interested in the state of

the world but do not go on marches. The magazine offers current affairs

but there is also satire and humour and it has an energetic graphic


’One of the things we wanted to get away from was the traditional

formula of a whole wad of music and fashion and then one or two other

pieces and ads. The market is changing now, you can have small companies

that are little multi-media publishers that can spread their brand

through different channels. Limb by Limb has this vision.’


Position: joint editor

Launched: Summer 1998

Publisher: PIL Ltd

Circulation: 15,000

Frequency: Bi-monthly

Target readership: 18- to 30-year-old men and women

’The magazine has been going a year and is about living in London,

although it is also sold internationally. Our readers are very-informed,

post-Face readers. They mostly either work, or hope to work, in media,

fashion, music or advertising.

’I hate the word ’lifestyle’ but we are in that category. We have

blurred boundaries between advertising and editorial. The ad team works

closely with the creative to create something together: unique

promotions blended into the concept of PIL. We can help brands by

putting a PIL slant on this work.’

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