NEW YORK — Complex hopes to be the hip-hop Lucky for Men.
The new magazine, which debuts in April, is being funded by Marc Ecko, who has built a $125 million men’s fashion house inspired by hip-hop and urban culture. It launches with a 275,000 rate base. Some 150,000 copies will be distributed on newsstands, and 165,000 subscriptions were culled from subscription drivers such as hangtags, direct mail, CDs and package inserts, said Tina Imm, Complex’s chief operating officer. In addition to newsstand distribution, magazines will be sold for $3.99 at stores such as Borders, Barnes & Noble and Coconuts, as well as specialty stores such as Gadzooks, DEMO, Buckle, Dr. Jay’s and Mr. Rags.
Among the 50 pages of paid advertising in the debut issue are Fubu, Enyce, Skechers, Lugz Footwear, Universal, Def Jam, Virgin and Sony. The magazine offered charter advertisers a four-color single page ad in each of the first two issues for $15,000.
The magazine will publish five issues this year and 10 in 2003, said Imm. It will be edited by Ben White, chief creative officer and editor in chief.
A lifestyle magazine for men aged 18 to 34, Complex will have the usual features on pop culture, entertainment, sports, adventure and video games — all seen through the lens of the hip-hop generation. Urban Sprawl, the upfront news section, will have such short items as Ghostface’s guide to robes, Donald Faison of “Scrubs” talking about Samuel Jackson’s “badass” characters; a trend watch on women and guns, and Bilal’s top five hottest gun-toting women, including Jessica Alba and Lucy Liu. Complex Individuals will highlight musicians, filmmakers, young Hollywood and sports personalities like actress Michelle Rodriguez, San Francisco hip-hop group Blackalicious and Jeremy Sisto, who appears in “Six Feet Under.” Complex Sweat will cover the world of sports from inner-city fencing and boxing to golf, basketball, snowboarding, Ping-Pong and motocross. Complex Skin features what the editors are calling “the hottest women” from the worlds of music and entertainment
The key to Complex, though, will be the 64-page guide in the back to the latest products, as well as related fashion spreads. In a nod to both Japanese publications and Lucky magazine, Ecko will present and rate products ranging from sneakers and watches to briefcases, electronics, gaming devices and automobiles. Imm believes the guide will appeal to an “aspirational mind-set in which brands and products are a reflection of social status and niche affiliations as well as a tendency to live beyond means. It’s a guide to the obsessive consumer culture for men.”
For example, a guide to footwear will show 12 pairs of sneakers and boots, and rate them based on the following factors: Underground, Collectible, Classic, Buy Rating and Price. A guide to dogs would rate them according to Style Factor, Chick Factor, Thug Factor, Street Smarts and Price. The dog pages would be accompanied by a fashion spread featuring women and their dogs. A bag guide would run the gamut from Louis Vuitton to Triple(5) Soul.
“We think young twentysomethings would have huge interest in both a Louis Vuitton briefcase and a Triple 5 Soul bag.
Ecko is confident Complex can thrive, despite the deepest downturn in publishing ever. “Five years ago I started kicking around an idea,” he said at the Complex offices here. “Our men’s [line] was doing $30 million at the time, and I put hangtags on the clothes that asked where the customer bought it and their mailing address. Surprisingly, we started getting an amazing return rate. We received over 200,000 responses. We wanted to do something to take advantage of the built-in data base.”