Howarth: leaving after six years
Peter Howarth is leaving Esquire after six years as editor to pursue a career in broadcasting and to write a novel set in the world of fashion and lads’ mags.
He told Press Gazette his decision to go came after he was offered a number of interesting ventures that he didn’t want to turn down.
"A big part of the decision is that things have been cropping up with increasing frequency. If I were sitting here in three years’ time and the offers dried up I would regret it," he said.
"Six years is the longest anyone has edited a men’s magazine in the UK."
As well as the novel, Howarth will be writing and presenting for television and is currently working on a documentary for Radio 4. He’s due to leave the magazine in December.
Howarth is most famous for his decision to drop naked women from the front cover. "When I came to Esquire, they’d spent a year on the more laddish approach. They had the Gladiator Zodiac on the front with a pole between her legs. I carried it on for a couple of years then thought, ‘This is tedious. I am having no more C-list girlies with no clothes on.’"
Instead, he put men such as Samuel L Jackson and Al Pacino on the cover, which he thinks has made other editors in the market change the way they think about covers.
"I think it made people re-evaluate. GQ recently had its first male cover for four years, I think, when it ran David Beckham. Arena recently had Hayden Christensen and there is a rumour that Maxim might put Vinnie Jones on the cover. I like to flatter myself that we showed that there is another way of doing things."
He believes men’s magazines will struggle unless they innovate. "Successful ones will find a way to diversify. There will be some launches, but they will be smaller, niche titles."
But he doesn’t think the launch of James Brown’s Jack is as innovative as he claims. "I admire James’s bravery and uncompromising take and I like the format and covers, but the content isn’t as different as it claims. It’s kind of Loaded without the sex with a bit of National Geographic in it. But it makes a distinctive point on the news-stand."
By Mary Stevens