Esquire UK redesign trims the design fat, and considers its aging audience?

So I got a copy of the redesigned UK Esquire magazine, with Naomi Watts on the cover. I’m sure I’m late to the party on this, but living in the US has made it a lot harder to keep track of the magazines I used to read while living in London (but can’t afford to subscribe to any more). First things that strikes me about the cover is how clean and and clutter-free it is, the modern/retro 60’s looking font they’re using on the main coverlines (and throughout the magazine), and finsaly the thick black bar bleeding over from the black spine on the left. It’ll be interesting to see if the cover is a definite way-forward in terms of the white space used there, and relatively simple but effective photography allowing each element room to breathe. I was thrown by the headline font for a second or two, but I think I really like it. To me it looks very London, very cool, aware of its huge backlog of influences and very unique…no-one’s going to be able to copy this easily without it being obvious where they’re lifting the idea from. The black bar bleeding from the spine seems to help the overall impact of the cover….covering it up and looking at the cover alone, it seems to lose a lot of impact, so I think the black bar was a good call, helping frame the important stuff to the right. It looks like the Esquire logo has taken a considerable step back toeward it’s original look too, contributing to the retro-feel.

The contents page is very straightforward and clean, easy to read. The thumbnails of the pages don’t do much more than re-affirm what you’re looking at, and I think they’d have been a little more effective on the right-hand side of the page away from the full-page ad to the left.

The clean, no-frills graphic-treatment continues inside on the front-of-book stuff. There’s a nice, airy feel to the pages, even the ones that are copy-heavy. The continued use of the new font seems to be the dominant element of the redesign, providing the biggest visual clue that something is different. It doesn’t feel over-used yet. I’m assuming, although I have not researched the decisions behind the redesign, that the redesign as a whole is aimed at their readership that has now presumably moved on or grown up/out of the lad-mag culture which was so huge at one point in the UK.
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The cover story continues the Naomi Watts image from the cover, all on white, very clean and what looks like maybe a condensed/light version of the new main font, nicely separating the feature well from the rest of the department content.
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Note that the sidebar here, as on other pages, is only called out by a thick black bar running across the top, there’s no large header or background color separating it from the rest of the copy.

There’s a large amount of fashion-photography-driven content, with some amazing sets/locations being utilised. I’d love to know how long and how many people it took to set this shoot up from concept to completion. It’s nice not to have the model taking up the entire page or spread in each shot, there’s a generous amount of background used, and the shots pull back far enough to really give a sense of the scale of the production, without taking away from the products on display.
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The retro feel continues with this studio-shot fashion feature. Paint is awesome!

And I love the 60’s vibe in this studio-shot peice, which uses cardboard cutouts of illustrations by James Taylor as props and set-pieces.

Smaller prouct driven pages such as this one are really nice and clean, I seem to be a sucker for pages with symmetrical image boxes such as this one.

On page 129, there’s a section called ‘Critics’, which contains their film, tv, music, books etc reviews, and another self-explanatory section called ‘Business’. It’s interesting as they’ve chosen to fit it all in one or two signatures and print those signatures on cheaper paper-stock in one color. I wasn’t sure why at first but in thinking about it for 5 seconds, really there’s no big use of images, no compelling photography used here, the reviews are just that – reviews, not fashion or product pages. In a way I guess they’re stating that the content is really worth reading, and needs some time invested in it, it’s not another glance-through section of the magazine.
Or I might be talking crap and they’re just out to save money.

Finally, I wanted to call attention to this secondary feature opener, another nice clean use of good photography and their new font.

All together I think the issue looks great, it certainly seems much more mature than many of its competitors, and really feels like it feels good about its own content. The confident, vaguely old-school vibe given off by the font use, white space and treatment of some of the graphics/photography makes it feel like a magazine that really knows the direction it wants to go in, and exactly what it thinks its audience want to see.

Explore posts in the same categories: contents pages, cool, Covers, design, Future, Illustration, Influence, Magazines, Photography, Production, Readers, Why is it like this?

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4 Comments on “Esquire UK redesign trims the design fat, and considers its aging audience?”

  1. Jimmy G Says:

    I purchased a copy of Esquire the other day for the first time. The design attracted me away from the tiring face of GQ and blew me away.

    I am really impressed by the typography especially. Does anyone know what typeface they are using for titles?

    Would really appreciate some info on this and / or who the fonts are by.


  2. […] on doing a little write-up on the subject until I found I’d been beat to the punch by this nice little post from Magazine Love. Also, here is another review from magCulture with some nice shots of the […]

  3. Paul Baker Says:

    could someone please tell me what font esquire magazine uses inside for titles etc. If it is of their own design are there any similar fonts?


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