Observer Woman seeks male readers with GSOH

By Alyson Fixter

Observer
Woman, the fourth in The Observer’s stable of monthly magazines, has
launched with a hairy, stilletoed leg on the cover and portraits of
male fashion designers wearing their own womenswear inside – but editor
Nicola Jeal insists she is not out to shock.

Jeal, who also worked on the launch of Emap’s weekly glossy Grazia,
said the title’s main brief was to be readable to men as well as women.
This has led to a rejection of fashion pages and an injection of men’s
mag humour.

“Of the other three monthly magazines, Food and Music
are very unisex, but Sport is aimed more at men, so we wanted to match
that with a woman’s magazine, but at the same time not exclude male
readers,” she said.

“We wanted to make it quite sexy, relevant
and modern. When we were looking at magazines, we looked at ones like
GQ and US Esquire for inspiration.”

The first issue also includes
a column from Laura Craik on why the awardwinning Brokeback Mountain is
a “pornfor- women movie” rather than a “gay cowboy movie” and Robert
McCrum on why American women are sexier than British girls.

While
denying that women’s magazines on the newsstand lacked humour, Jeal
said: “Women’s magazines have to be very, very targeted towards women,
while we think the humour is what will bring men in.

“As we have a weekly magazine anyway that includes fashion, this can be the icing on the cake.”

Observer
Woman is the latest in a series of newly launched or revamped Sunday
supplements that are borrowing from the women’s glossies, such as The
Sunday Telegraph’s Stella and The Sunday Times’s Style magazine.

Richard
Johnstone, publishing director of IPC’s Marie Claire, said publishers
were aware of the potential threat from the titles, but added: “With
Observer Woman I expected something more glossy and glamorous, and I
was surprised that they stuck with the saddle stitching and matte paper.

“The
writing is great, but they haven’t created the environment that glossy
readers and advertisers expect, and that comes out in the fact that
they have ads for DFS and McDonald’s on the first seven pages.

“And readers still have a direct relationship with a glossy that the supplements don’t have.”

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