Thursday, November 10, 2011

Issue # 50 - What NOT to read

Issue # 50 - What NOT to read

Good afternoon gentlemen. I was originally planning on writing a handy guide to gift giving for your lady this holiday season, however I was side tracked when a new magazine landed on my desk. It's the debut publication from the Freeds company, and it's called "Image Magazine". Now, some of you may be unfamiliar with the Freeds name if you're not from this area. Freeds is a well known store that has been around for 80 years in this city. They are known primarily for Men's clothing, specifically suits, although they do women's as well. For decades, they have been the main place that men in the city have gone to get their suit needs fulfilled, with all the accessories. They have survived almost a century and are still going strong.

The above paragraph is the nicest thing I have to say about Freeds.

I for one, have never been a fan of Freeds, for several, very specific reasons. The clothing is highly overpriced. The quality of wear in the lesser-name brands (which there are an abundant amount of) is pathetic, with many of their items falling apart after the first few wears and washes. But  most importantly, they are ridiculously and astoundingly out of touch with modern men's style...and they could not be more oblivious about it.

Regardless of my preconceived thoughts of Freeds, I decided to give this magazine a read with the highest of hopes. I wanted my notions of the company to be put to rest. I held this magazine in my hands, staring at the cover photo; a sharp and mean looking model sitting cross legged in a light grey suit with a blue, pink, purple and white check shirt, paired with a rather hideous tie. (not to mention the tie width greatly exceeds the width of the lapels...proportion 101). Tie aside, I still endeavoured into the pages, optimism afloat. A short while later, upon finishing the magazine twice, I came to a final conclusion:


 And I mean this on more than one level. It became very obvious to me within the first few pages that not only have the powers that be at Freeds obviously never even looked at a real men's style magazine, but they are officially more out-dated and old fashioned than I could have ever imagined. This became painfully obvious when on page 7, the owner of Freeds mentions the "New 'fitted' Look" as one of this seasons major fashion shifts. I'm sorry? New fitted style? Have you not been around for the past 4 years?  Have you paid ANY attention to the shifting trends in men's fashion at ALL? Or did you just decide that your knowledge of what was fashionable in the late 80s and early 90s was more than enough to qualify you to put out a style magazine? The very fact that fitted style was referred to as NEW trend easily set the tone for what was to be an extremely poorly thought out, written and executed magazine.

After the fluffy letters from the owner, Ari Freed and the General Manager, Dan Orman (both of whose positions in the company I am only assuming since they don't say who they are), confidently patting themselves on the back, the magazine opens up to a varietal plethora of gag-inducing 'fashions'. Page 10 begins the painful journey with a self boasting article on Freeds and a lack-luster 4 photo spread; 3 of which are almost identical photos, showcasing a billowy men's shirt with a predictable tie, and a backdrop of a typical stuffy men's store. The article closes itself claiming that Freeds stays 'ahead of the curve' and 'shocks customers with incredible selection'. The only thing shocking here is the lack of style, and further lack of character.

Now I could do a page by page breakdown of this publication, but I don't know if I can come up with enough synonyms for 'useless'. The issue goes on to disappoint around every corner, choosing to focus minimal attention of giving visual examples of men's style, and instead choosing to place poorly written mini articles with very little visual support around double-page spreads of local business people who clearly are not doing much in the way of style, nor are they depicting the very style trends that the magazine said it was offering. (ie pg 20, 28,34, and 44...really? i mean...REALLY?)

 The only article that could have possibly held any sort of merit was on page 38, entitled "Custom Fitted". It showed reputable promise, making me think the following read would be informative, interesting, and would shine some light on the custom fit look that this city needs to embrace. But alas, as with the rest of the publication it very quickly got off topic choosing to talk about what designers made an impact on a runway, and what colours stole the show as opposed to offering visual examples of how you can achieve such looks. In fact the only photos they offer in their blink-and-you'll-miss-it article on "one of this seasons' major fashion shifts" are one they obviously lifted from the internet depicting a perfectly slim-clad gentleman in a lift elevator with 2 gorgeous women, and a heavily blacked out photo of a man wearing a suit and tie. Neither photo show any real suit details. The article goes on to continually name drop designers they carry (as with the entire magazine), and then finishes by telling you to essentially buy a suit off their rack, take it to their tailor, and just be open to new possibilities. Thank you Freeds for that lovely piece of useless writing.

The issue continues to showcase business professionals in the city, which in my opinion are nothing but space fillers, since it's burningly obvious that the main writer Reena Kainth simply doesn't have enough knowledge or passion to write an in depth article that I'm sure many other men were looking forward to. The article on page 25 "Zip it up, a buyer's guide to jackets" is a prime example. Yet again, an article filled with a lot of useless filler, a lot of designer name dropping, and very little useful information paired with absolutely no visual support to give the reader something to compare the words to. How is this a buyer's guide to winter jackets if there is no guide to be seen? The article spends much more time on the history of the designers rather than guiding the reader.

As I neared the end of the magazine, I laughed to myself since the vast majority of the ads in the issue, (for brands that Freeds carries), contain models dressed better than anything the magazine has to offer, wearing better clothing than the magazine has showcased. One would think that the creators of this magazine would have taken a queue from the designers they name drop so frequently, and actually do some research. Instead they choose to dress their models (ie/ pg 34) in an overly typical outfit that Far, far too many people in this city wear. It is not stylish, nor is it trendy. It is not fashion. It is a man dressed poorly, in poor fitting clothes, dressed by people who - given the entirety of this publication - must think that if it's 'designer' then it looks good regardless. Well, I have news for you. You're wrong.

This magazine is a joke from beginning to end. The very idea that it could be a go-to for men or women looking to catch up on new styles and trends is nothing short of crazy talk. After a third time looking through it, it's truly nothing more than a piece of self inflating puffery from a company who is well past their time, and knows it. If they had removed every instance of dropping the name of a designer they carry (many of which are much less than impressive), and refrained from useless information that makes them sound like they know what they're talking about, they could have maybe saved a couple of pages for actual useful style information.
Luckily this is only out bi-annually, so you have a few months to recover before they fill their spring/summer issue with Ed hardy t shirts and jeans with rhinestones on the pockets.

In conclusion gentlemen, do not read this magazine. Do not shop at Freeds. If you want real style advice, I suggest you check out GQ magazine monthly, and also Men's Health magazine. Whether you subscribe or not, they are invaluable tools to keep you on the pulse of what's happening in men's style right NOW. Not 20 years ago.


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