Byline: Lisa Lockwood
NEW YORK — It’s been a rough year for Self, but a remake is about to debut, and the look is upscale as well as upbeat.
New editor in chief Cynthia Leive wants the health-and-fitness-oriented magazine to look visual, energetic and cheerful and, at the same time, have a certain chic.
Leive, who recently replaced longtime editor Rochelle Udell — now senior vice president of brand development at Limited Stores — came to Self from Glamour, where she was deputy editor under the late Ruth Whitney and then Bonnie Fuller.
Under Leive’s direction, the 20-year-old Self — which is published by Conde Nast — has undergone some significant cosmetic and editorial changes, giving a visual lift to the photography, features, layouts and overall mood.
Leive said her mission was to add more energy, color, outdoor photography, interactivity and bigger visuals. She also wanted to show happy people.
Happiness, in fact, is a major theme of the new Self. There’s a Happiness Handbook, with stories about overcoming shyness, seeking therapy and getting promoted, as well as a mental-health check; Happiness Flash!, offering bits of information concerning feelings of well-being (“caffeine may actually boost memory”), and Happiness Move of the Month. For January, it’s comic Molly Shannon’s story of resiliency after personal tragedy.
Beth Brenner, publisher of Self, hopes happiness will spread to the business side as well. For 1999, total ad pages were off 9.8 percent from a year ago, which she attributed mostly to a companywide decline in the beauty business. Self’s beauty business was off 18 percent, while fashion gained 4 percent due to significant business from Tommy Hilfiger, Eddie Bauer, Ralph Lauren, Lee Jeans and Liz Claiborne, said Brenner.
“I fully expect the beauty business to come back big time in 2000,” said Brenner. Self’s January issue is up 6.5 percent in ad pages over January 1999.
Next spring it will have two new competitors: Oprah Winfrey’s still-unnamed title at Hearst and Real Simple, published by Time Inc.
“I’m flattered we have a category they want to be in, but the general consensus is they’ll both skew older than we do,” said Brenner. The median age of the Self reader is 33.
Self has a rate base of 1.1 million. Among its new advertisers are Gloss.com, Mall.com, Lancome, L’Oreal, American Express and Altavista.
Fitness remains the focus of the magazine.
“Nobody’s giving more fitness news than we do,” said Leive. “But the reader comes to Self looking for more than fitness.”
In describing the changes at Self, Leive said she wanted many of the sections to play off the word “self.” To this end, there are new sections such as Self Beauty Book, Self Exam and Self Expression.
The visual changes are evident on the cover. The logo — no longer with a stiff, digital feeling — has a more energetic typeface. Leive decided that covers would now be photographed outdoors, or indoors with a look of natural light. The January issue, with Heidi Klum in Ralph Lauren Black Label on the cover, was shot by Russell James in a London studio.
The well-known Flash! pages — for years one of Self’s most popular features — have become more visual. Leive has also added a Sexual Health page, with a story headlined, “The healing power of a roll in the hay” in the January issue.
Among its fashion pages are Personal Style Planner and Style Lab, with tips for planning a wardrobe.
The fashion spreads, photographed by Pamela Hanson, take a natural approach.
“We wanted to make it clear it’s not just fashion, but people in clothes,” said Leive.
“We want them to have a real sense of energy. Our mission is to translate these trends to the healthy active lifestyle of our reader.
“They want real fashion news, what’s in style. It will be everyday stuff,” she said. She also said the fashion shoots will have real clothes, not workout clothes. That idea will be translated to the cover, as well.
Among the resources featured in January are Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton, Tse, Miu Miu, Trina Turk and Ralph Lauren.
Beauty is a major area, with a six-page well at the front, with Beauty Intelligence, Self’s Beauty Book and Beauty Flash!. Longer features, such as “Be Naturally Gorgeous” and “Best Beauty Stuff of All Time” appear elsewhere in the magazine.
Among some of the new columns in the new Self are “Your Beauty Advisor,” by Andrea Pomerantz Lustig; “Your Money Maven,” a column by CNBC Business News correspondent Sharon Epperson, and “Your Personal Trainer,” a Q&A with Kathy Smith, that debuts in February.