After two decades of business, Maxim has decided to up its game.
For the publication’s March issue, which hits newsstands today, it is revealing a new look under the direction of Kate Lanphear, who recently left her position at T magazine to take on the role as Maxim’s editor in chief.
The hiring of Lanphear was seen as somewhat peculiar for the men’s magazine, as she began her career at Vogue followed by a stint at Harper’s Bazaar in Australia, and eventually serving as the style director at Elle before joining T. Her editing experience and impressive fashion background is what ultimately led to her appointment, as the publication is trying to shed its slightly raunchy image to something much more refined.
“We're architecting a new Maxim," Lanphear told Racked. "It's been two decades since the brand was first published. We wanted to reshape it to reflect the times we are living in now—really, it was about evolving. We plan to build it into a lifestyle brand for men.”
Launching in 1995, Maxim was at one time a top men's magazine that boasted the tagline "Sex Sports Beer Gadgets Clothes Fitness." It was mostly associated with scantily clad women and humor writing, giving it a Playboy-meets-GQ reputation. However, in 2012, the magazine’s annual ad revenue dropped 18 percent; Bloomberg reported that it was losing anywhere between $3 million and $5 million at that time, which resulted in a decrease of print issues, going from 12 a year to just 10.
But why is the magazine losing value? Aren’t men still interested in sex, women, sports, and clothes? According to experts, the answer is yes, but they just want it packaged differently.
“Lad magazines kind of stopped happening—they petered out," Adam Rapoport, editor-in-chief of Bon Appétit and former style editor for GQ, told Racked. "Times have changed and there's not much of a market for them anymore. Readers are interested in religiously edited magazines with high editorial standards. Most guys don't want to feel embarrassed to read a magazine on a subway.”
This much more mature and subtle approach is mostly reflected on the issue's new cover, which features a picture of model Candice Swanepoel shot by fashion photographer Gilles Bensimon. But rather than show off Swanepoel’s body in barely-there lingerie, the magazine features only the face of the Victoria’s Secret Angel with the words “Meet the Most Desirable Woman in the World” underneath.
As Lanphear puts it, the intention is to celebrate women’s beauty rather than objectify it.
“I don't think nudity or semi-nudity should be equated with poor taste,” she said. “There is certainly a wrong way to depict women and—as a woman and EIC—I'm aware there is a fine line. What you'll see this March are photos that capture a women's beauty. Yes, they're sexy, but they're fun and exude confidence."
In addition to the toned-down sex factor, the magazine will also implement more style and grooming pieces as well as long-form reporting. Each issue will also focus on a specific theme; this month’s will be “Raw.”
“It's about inspiring readers, but punctuating it with some fun," Lanphear says. "I don't think everything in every page of every magazine has to be so serious. It should be an immersive experience where you get to have some fun."