A Cultural Kaleidoscope

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Nylon's Identity Crisis

Not for girls. This bold tagline and the bright pink title instantly made me reach for a copy of Nylon Guys magazine on the newsstand. And I wondered, “Is that the point?”

After reading it cover to cover, I’m still not sure that this magazine is only for guys. And I’m also not sure that Nylon Guys knows whom it is for either.

The Fall 2007 issue of the quarterly magazine from Nylon Holding, Inc, the publishers of Nylon Magazine, features Jason Schwartzman on the cover – a solid, non-mainstream cover choice for a magazine that aims to “Celebrate independence and a pipeline to popular culture.” However, Schwartzman is holding a placard that says, “Nylon?,” which is exactly what I think to myself as I wonder who the target audience is and what the goal here actually is.

The cover story is appropriately titled, “Is Jason Schwartzman The Coolest Guy In Hollywood?” It feels like the magazine itself is trying so hard to be cool and define itself with its jargon and tone that it lacks depth and loses sight of being a credible hipster magazine for men.

This idea resonates in Marvin Scott Jarrett’s Letter from the Editor, as he writes mostly about his crush on Schwartzman and his career, mentions another upcoming movie he wants to see, and then ends with, “As usual, Nylon Guys is cool as shit.” I beg to differ. It’s as if he is trying too hard to please and the letter comes off as overkill.

The cover also boasts “144 pages of really awesome stuff!” These “awesome” pages are boring, repetitive, and lacking in design. Each page in this section has photographs of nine or more watches or pairs of pants lined up in neat rows against a white background. Too much cookie cutter design of this kind is not a good thing and the reader quickly loses focus when this drones on for too many pages. This magazine reads more like a catalogue for sneakers, hoodies, blazers, gadgets, and the like.

Nylon Guys is a prime example of nuggetization at work. Everything is broken down into small chunks that are easy for readers to digest. Including the cover story, there are only two other feature stories and about ten short half-page articles on music and movies. One of the features is about Blake Lively, the star of the new teen drama, Gossip Girl, and another spotlights a former ballerina – not for girls, huh?

The magazine also has a lot of full-page ads – 55 of them to be exact. With 55 pages of ads, 144 pages of “cool stuff” (i.e. ads), about 20 more pages that look like ads, and a few articles and text sprinkled in between, it’s hard to distinguish what this magazine is trying to achieve. The plethora of ads causes the reader to unknowingly skip over what little content there is. The magazine tries to promote so many different products that it loses sight of trying to define and promote itself. Now in its second year, Nylon Guys should celebrate its birthday with a makeover.


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