Vitals Offers Some Statistics: 8/31 (Launch), 200,000 (Rate Base), One (Ambitious Editor)

Fairchild Publications has finally begun providing some details on Details' spin-off. Vitals, Fairchild's new men's shopping title, arrives on newsstands on Aug 31. And despite the trend in consumer magazines toward catalog-like shopping titles a la the wildly successful Lucky--and despite the fact that Vitals' distant cousin is the recently launched, similarly conceived Cargo--Vitals' editor promises to be different.

"I can't speak to Cargo, but the difference between theirs and our book is night and day," says Vitals Editor in Chief Joe Zee. Zee asserts that Vitals is "really a new concept." The title will start out being published quarterly with a rate base of 200,000 and a newsstand cover price of $4.95. Matt Damon, decked out in a gray suit and tie, is its first cover subject.

If Zee's comments sound a bit rivalrous, they're more akin to sibling rivalry. The burgeoning shopping magazine category that Vitals will compete in is dominated by Conde Nast, which publishes Cargo and Lucky, and owns Fairchild.



Moreover, Fairchild is taking a page out of the archives of some rival men's category magazines. GQ, now owned by Conde Nast, originally began as a quarterly fashion-oriented supplement to Hearst Magazine's Esquire magazine that was called Gentleman's Quarterly. It took several decades and one brilliant editor--Art Cooper, who died last year--before GQ began to rival Esquire in publishing circles. It doesn't look like Vitals plans to waste that much time.

The magazine, which employs the tagline "At Your Service," will be less about listing hundreds of products--for example, like Lucky--and will be more about reviews and recommendations. "It's not about showing the 50 raincoats," says Zee. "It's about showing the best three."

Zee, who has recently served as fashion director of W magazine and as a contributing fashion editor at Details, believes therein lies the difference between the way that men and women will view shopping magazines. "For women, shopping is far more visceral," he says. "Guys would be overwhelmed by that kind of choice. Our magazine will be functional, practical, and informal."

So Vitals will be focused on products and services, and "how they relate to my lifestyle," says Zee.

A lifestyle of means, for Vitals' target is men ages 25-45 who have acquired some wealth. "These are men who have their empire," says Zee. "It's completely luxury, completely upscale. There is an insider's point of view."

These insiders are accustomed to getting what they want when they want it, as their expectations have been heavily influenced by modern media like the Internet. "We are used to MTV time," says Zee. "We are talking about immediacy. We can't delay anymore [when shopping]." Those expectations have influenced the way Vitals organizes its products by category, similar to Internet shopping sites.

Like Lucky, celebrity will be a big part of Vitals--although the focus will be less about their shopping preferences and more about how they use products in their everyday life. Besides talking to cover subject Damon, a feature in the first issue, called "From the Desk of," focuses on Larry David and how he works in his office (and what kind of humidifier he uses). "It's a really voyeuristic look," Zee says.

So far, high-end advertisers appear willing to buy into this luxury service concept. Vitals' debut issue carries 80-plus ad pages, from companies like Armani, Absolut, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Cole Haan, and Cartier.

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