Lifestyle magazine struts into stands
New Montreal-based publication targets fashion-conscious 18 to 30 year olds

As if the magazine market weren't crowded enough, a new entrant has recently appeared on stands across the country. Strut magazine, which is being published by Montreal fashion retailers Mark and George Batchoun is the latest in a series of lifestyle publications trying to hit the crucial 18 to 30 year demographic.

The quarterly, which bills itself as a "pipeline to today's fashion conscious consumer," launched in mid-April. The 162 inaugural issue features articles about music, art, beauty and even poetry, as well as a string of the fashion industry advertisers including Diesel, DKNY Jeans and Hugo Boss.

The initial print run is 30,000, with distribution slated to rise to 250,000 copies by the fifth issue, when the Batchouns expect to make their U.S. launch.

"We've had a lot of success selling to young people though our retail chain and I felt there was a void in the market," said George Batchoun. "I've always been a magazine fanatic, so we decided to give it a go."

Despite the fact that the Batchouns don't have any direct magazine experience they bring several attributes to the table that go a long way toward compensating for the shortfall.

The staff includes a host of veteran industry talent. These include publisher Anick Decoste, formerly of Les Ailes de la Mode, as well as art director Dave Girard and editor Adam Gollner, both Vice magazine alumni.

The brothers also know the fashion industry well and understand the trends that motivate today's young consumers. Their three-store retail chain StyleExchange boasts several lines of high-end jeans whose average price is a close to $200, as well as a variety of shoes and accessories. This supplier base gives them a ready pool of potential ad buyers, such as Farah Dib, director of marketing and advertising at Buffalo Jeans.

"We've been selling to the Batchouns since they opened their first store. When they came to see us with the layouts of the new magazine, we were interested right away," said Dib. "It's fresh, it's new, like Nylon or Surface. There's nothing like it in Canada. We really don't have an edgy underground magazine here."

Although George Batchoun, 24, and his brother Mark, 23, have big dreams, they also have big accomplishments under their belts. Mark made it big in the fast paced dot-com era of the late 1990s when he parlayed a modest $5,000 investment into close to one million dollars, by day-trading stocks on-line. But unlike most of his contemporaries, he got out at the right time, investing much of his winnings into StyleExchange, and now into Strut magazine.

 

The new publication will be set up in separate offices, as a separate company. And according to Batchoun it already has significant support within the industry from young talented writers who are itching to contribute.

"We've only been out a week, and we've already gotten more than 300 E-mails from people around the world who want to write for us," said Batchoun. "So we have a lot of good ideas to choose from."

But according to one veteran ad buyer, the brothers had better be careful because Strut is entering a highly competitive environment.

"The 18 to 30 market is tough. There isn't a strong history of success with these sorts of magazines," said David Béland, director of Carat Expert. "While they may find readers, there are not a lot of advertisers for the edge market, and they will end up competing against well-oiled fashion magazines like Elle Canada for ad dollars."

But Béland adds that Strut's "Maga-logue," format, through which the company can lean on the retail chain's suppliers to support the publication, gives it a leg up. He also said that he would consider the magazine as a vehicle for certain clients.

"The fact that they have so many big names on board gives them a some credibility," Béland said. "If I saw one of my client's competitors advertising there, I'd be tempted to suggest that he buy space too."

The initial issue featured more than 60 pages of advertising out of 164, and the brothers clearly want to boost that ratio. For the moment some advertisers are sitting on the fence waiting to see Strut's Audit Bureau of Circulation numbers look.

But those numbers won't come out for another year. In the meantime, the Batchouns are concentrating on their September issue, which will be introduced at a launch party in Toronto in August.

 

 

Photo: Use JPEG scan of cover

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