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Esquire, the oldest men’s fashion magazine on newsstands today, is just four months away from becoming a 21st century medium, said editor in chief David Granger.
This story first appeared in the March 31, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The timing is linked to the launch of a new men’s style and e-commerce site, Clad.com, a wholly owned subsidiary of J.C. Penney Co. Inc. Esquire plans to provide its editorial expertise to Clad, and in some cases, the items shown on Esquire.com can be purchased via a link to Clad. But this partnership doesn’t mean Esquire will be trying to sell JCPenney merchandise. Clad has the financial backing of JCPenney, but the site will feature a range of brands that have yet to be revealed, said Will Swillie, who is president of the site.
In developing the site, Swillie worked with consultants to try and figure out where the “white space was” online and who Clad’s customer will be. Clad will be aimed at men aged 24 to 54 who spend an average of $3,300 a year on men’s wear (the average man spends $1,800 a year on clothing). “Our target guy is an extrovert that is frustrated about his apparel choices and wants to know how to pull it all together — that’s where Esquire comes in.” The site will offer a wide variety of price points. “Fit is the biggest frustration online, so we’ll have a unique sizing tool,” Swillie noted.
Esquire’s team will lend editorial expertise to the site and produce 16-page quarterly promotional magazines. “Who are we as Clad to tell the dresser what and how to do something?” said Swillie, adding that Esquire will provide that credibility. “The Clad customer is willing to accept general advice, but he does have a particular sense of style. The idea is to create a destination site that has easy shipping and returns.” He stressed that Clad is a standalone e-commerce business and Esquire will not be responsible for merchandising. “But as the magazine is paginated and they are doing a story on great shearling outerwear, we’ll want to make sure we’re doing something on that too,” said Swillie.
Granger said that Esquire has made various attempts at e-commerce, but nothing really stuck. In March, he created the Esquire Collection, which provided “the 25 items that you need to get by.” The magazine printed barcodes on its pages and readers could scan them using their mobile phones to make an instant purchase via that brand’s Web site. “I’m sure there were tens of thousands of scans, but it was too complicated and I’m not sure how much product we moved,” Granger said. “I bet it wasn’t very much.”
He said Clad will have an ever changing menu of content from the magazine, both current and historical, and the biannually published Big Black Book, but he won’t shape future editorial by what’s posted on Clad.
“We’ll have some editorial voice on Clad, and if it happens to be that what the fashion team is doing is also on Clad, we’ll direct people to make purchases,” said Granger. But not everything on Esquire will be available on Clad. “What we create and print has relevance far beyond one month,” Granger said.