NEW YORK — Canadian teens finally have a magazine to call their own.
Fashion18’s fall issue landed on newsstands in late July, challenging the supremacy of U.S. imports such as YM and Seventeen, as well as newcomers Elle Girl and Teen Vogue. The magazine is Canada’s first English-language teen title available on newsstands across the country. Elle Quebec recently launched Elle Girl, but it is sold only in Quebec and is published in French.
Fashion18 is a spinoff of Fashion magazine, which is targeted at an older readership and published by Toronto-based St. Joseph Media. The media giant’s staple of magazines includes Shift, Toronto Life, Wedding Bells and The Look.
Ceri Marsh, Fashion18’s editor, said fashionistas-in-training north of the border have been clamoring for such a title for years.
"We knew Canadian teens were buying teen magazines, but there was nothing out there that was really for them," said Marsh, who also serves as the fashion news director at Fashion magazine. "They were really hungry for something that spoke to them."
Publisher Giorgina Bigioni said, "We spoke to a lot of advertisers and a lot of like promoters to the teen market, such as Much Music, MTV and Pepsi, and they were all supportive for the need for a teen book."
Advertisers in the first issue include Ralph Lauren Fragrance, Tommy Jeans, Op, Polo Jeans Co., Sketchers and Cover Girl.
The press run for the first issue was 150,000, including 50,000 on newsstands, 75,000 distributed through the Pepsi Taste Tour and 25,000 handed out at shopping malls operated by Cadillac Fairview.
Fashion18 will publish four issues in 2003 and in 2004, Bigioni hopes to publish six issues.
Marsh said U.S. teen titles are problematic for the Canadian market because many of the items featured in service pieces are not available in Canada or are listed in U.S. dollars.
"If [Canadian teens] fell in love with a sweater, they wanted to be able to go and get it and they wanted to see the price listed in Canadian dollars," she said.
During focus groups conducted prior to Fashion18’s launch, Marsh said teens "were also picking up on subtle cultural cues" in U.S. magazines. "They want to see Britney, but they also don’t want to see a story about cheerleaders because it’s not really part of the Canadian culture," she said. "They wanted to see stories about girls playing hockey."Marsh said the the magazine is "smart and fun" — not a common tone among many magazines, she maintained.
"I think a lot of North American magazines divide themselves down that line, but we really wanted to bring that together with a teen magazine," she said. "You can have a story about some cute heartthrob boy, but you can also run a story about bullying in high schools or weight loss issues."
The 128-page inaugural issue features an eclectic mix of articles, including "Get J.Lo’s Style," "Best Beauty Buys," "Sex Questions Answered" and "My Best Friend Is A Guy." There is also a profile of Canadian actress Kristin Kreuk, who appears in the WB series "Smallville."
Marsh and the magazine’s other staffers flipped through the pages of existing teen magazines for inspiration for Fashion18, but one legendary title, in particular, impressed the group of editors the most: Sassy.
"Of course everyone thinks fondly of the Sassy years. In fact, one of our editors, Lesa Hannah, was a guest teen editor of Sassy," said Marsh, 34. "So we drew a lot from that, but more in the spirit of it, because we wanted to get the right tone."
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