Scarlet women’s journal

Following on from the recent success of men’s magazines, the women’s market is at last being updated. Clare Dowdy inspects the latest addition and sees red.

The bite-size, small format sample edition of Red, Emap Elan’s latest launch, promises to speak to me in my own language. Aged between 26 and 34, independent, working, and with the income to enjoy myself, I reportedly inhabit the newly coined era of Middle Youth.

Red’s editorial describes me as having some responsibilities, but still being interested in style, passion and enjoying myself. So I am after a magazine which respects my intelligence and puts a smile on my face, I am told.

Red’s audience profile and raison d’être are explained in the feature Will You Ever Grow Up? It reads like a description of a Bridget Jones clone and focuses heavily on the aforementioned concept of Middle Youth. You have reached this period when you read cookery books in bed, and sing Wonderwall to the baby on the way to the park – two categories into which I do not fit. However, there are others I can relate to, so there’s no need to panic. These women, according to the statistics, are “the future”. It is an upbeat approach and one which I am prepared to buy into.

Red admits it will cover the usual ground of women’s magazines – fashion, food, entertaining, interiors, travel, gardening, all featured with “effortless style”. And it mostly does this well. The shopping and fashion pages, include some very tasteful Bill Amberg sandals, along with Muji and Nicole Farhi, so I am feeling fairly hopeful.

The average reader might beg to differ that the Q&A interview with “Hollywood’s most desirable bachelor” respected their intelligence. I cannot claim to being challenged by Matt Dillon’s answer to the probing query, “Are you the marrying type?” Response: “Am I the marrying type? [Pauses and thinks carefully.] Yeah, I could be the marrying type.” More Challenge Anneka than University Challenge, perhaps.

The profile of Space NK Apothecary owner Nicky Kinnaird is something I would read – she is a fresher topic than Dillon and is likely to have more relevance to most readers. But that piece, too, was slightly disappointing as it shed little light on Kinnaird as an entrepreneur, and more about her quest to hunt down the best ever deodorant.

Columnist Fiona Gibson will be a regular contributor. In this issue she sings the praise of parks – a light good-humoured piece targeting that audience sector often neglected by the glossier young woman’s publication, the new mum, though it is unlikely to be read by those yet to give birth.

Readers might accuse the interiors editor Atlanta Bartlett of blowing something of her own trumpet. The housey feature is on her own home, and focuses on her “private sanctuary”, an impractical – for anyone with children – collection of white on white on white.

Red is not that different from its mainstream competitors, but then it is not trying to be. Unlike Frank or The Passion, both launched last year, it is just trying to deliver the usual stuff in a format and with an angle which better suits its target audience. There was a welcome absence of those “more of the same about sex” articles so many magazines still carry, and the lay-out and illustrations, under the direction of art editor Lisa Clarke, are accessible rather than ground-breaking. The masthead, reminiscent of a Dolcis sub-brand, may let down the magazine’s sophisticated aspirations.

Although I can’t think of many people who will rush to get their hands on a copy of Red, I can think of others who will happily flick through it at the dentist’s. In the cold light of day, Red is just another magazine chasing the loyalty of the “intelligent” woman. We are yet to see whether the market is becoming saturated, or whether there are enough “intelligent” women to go round.

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