Founded back in 1933, Esquire is one of the longest-running and highly-regarded men’s magazines around. Today, the British arm of the august organ celebrates the launch of a redesigned and reimagined incarnation, which has hit newsstands this morning.
Bigger and heavier than before, the new Esquire arrives as part of the publication’s freshly-implemented overall strategy, slimming down to six issues a year, with each issue finding itself loosely themed around one of the Esquire key points of interest.
“The redesign relates to how it looks, obviously,” says Nick Millington, creative director of Esquire. “How the new fonts (Louize and GT America), the new grids and the new photography come together in a hopefully striking, elegant and functional way that sets us apart from our previous incarnation, as well as from other titles.”
This first issue of the new regime is a “Style & Fashion” special, with Moonlight star Mahershala Ali (shot by Cass Bird, and styled by George Cortina) adorning the cover. Inside you’ll find work by Martin Parr (who provides an exclusive photo essay on Saville Row tailoring), Jon Savage (the noted music journalist takes readers on a sartorial stroll down memory lane to the big-coated days of the late-70s) and even a new story by Joe Dunthorne.
When we first got our hands on the new design, we immediately thought, “Oh, this looks a bit like the internet, maybe, with all that white space.” Nick, in all his infinite wisdom, thought this funny because, “when I go online, all I see is everyone trying to make their websites look more like magazines.”
He goes on to mention that “white space is cheap online, in print, it’s steep,” noting that as the price of paper rises and rises, “it’s getting harder to afford that white space and so in print that’s a luxury.”
In fact, the notion of an Esquire “way” feels important in the context of considering this luxe new look. We wondered if Nick and the creative team ever felt “tethered” to the long and storied history of a magazine that’s been around longer than most of our grandparents. “I’d say,” Nick says, “we pitched it almost 18 months ago and visually it’s stayed pretty true to those first designs.”
Nick tells us that at one point he and his colleagues even considered “flirting with killing the logo entirely” before they came to their senses and realised that it was “_Esquire_ that shouldn’t be messed with,” as it is “iconic and instantly recognisable.” Instead, they took advantage of the archive at their disposal and decided to lift a logo from the covers that filtered out into gas stops and mom and pop stores in the late 1950s. As Nick puts it, “it’s edgier and more aggressive than the softer rounded logo of late, and more in-line with our new direction.”
Another thing we wondered was how big, prestigious, legacy mags like Esquire keep up with the ceaseless wave of daringly-designed indie mags that don’t have to worry so much about things like sales and figures. To this, Nick has the perfect answer.
“Those big, fat, heavy indie mags have a lot of physical appeal and it’s hard for a commercial magazine with a high print run to compete because they are expensive to produce in any sort of numbers. Also, we have thousands of subscribers: try paying postage on all those really heavyweight issues. Try getting some of them through a letterbox, for that matter. But this redesign has addressed that. We’ve got bigger dimensions, more pages, thicker glossier stock, tactile uncoated sections… but we’re not so ridiculously oversized that we’re going to do damage to the postman.”
The new look, new feel Esquire is out now.