Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dissertation: In Defense of GQ

2006
-My frustration came to a head last month. A realization that had been slowly building in the back of my mind, a betrayal by a good friend, had finally become clear to me: Most of the content in the April issue of Gentleman’s Quarterly did not interest me. 
-I’ve read nearly every GQ since I became a subscriber in 2002. When I first left for college in 2006 I threw out four years worth of magazines. Every issue since then, save for a few that have been inexplicably misplaced, now sit organized neatly on a shelf in the last place that I’ll reside as a college student. Keeping all these issues doesn’t make me any cooler than any other dedicated or casual reader, but the ever-growing stacks serve as a great resource to me when I need them. I recently purchased a khaki-colored chino sport coat, and I was having trouble figuring out what to wear beneath it. I grabbed a couple spring issues from the past few years off the shelf and casually perused, looking for anything that might help me craft some sensible looks around my new jacket. Flipping through the pages from years past was strangely nostalgic. It’s odd how I could clearly remember individual pages, stories and editorials. I found what I was looking for, a couple ideas of how to wear a khaki sport coat, but I also found myself remembering why I loved the magazine. When I started reading GQ there were no blogs, no online magazines or style forums. As a young man trying to set myself apart from my peers through my style, GQ offered guidance and helped to keep me from pushing my stylistic expression a little too far. I tried to figure out what was different now. Why can’t I get into the issue? What's missing?
-Nothing is missing, except my younger self and the lack of pretentiousness with which I used to approach the publication. The pages still contain the same helpful advice and smartly styled editorials they are known for. It’s me that is different. Flipping through the April issue’s guidelines for budget conscious shopping, tailoring and eBay finagling I found myself, like I’m sure many of you did, more informed on matters of style and shopping than the intended GQ audience. I’m not suggesting that the editors and writers of GQ do not possess more knowledge and insight than myself, I am confidently certain that they do, it’s that they craft content for an audience that wants to know, not one that knows.

-So why should we continue to support GQ even if we know how to measure for a custom shirt, match patterned shirts and ties without looking like we got dressed in the dark, or how to roll our chinos to show just enough ankle peeking out of our ocean-soaked Top-Siders? Because the magazine isn’t for us anymore; it’s for the guy who might not spend hours reading blogs and forums researching which pair of raw denim is best for his build. Obviously, I love the style blogosphere. I love the proliferation of unique points of view the Internet offers. But I’m a GQ subscriber, and I’ll probably be one for life. Not only because the magazine initially fueled my desire to pursue a career in journalism, and not because I’ve been to a print-shop and smelled the oddly agreeable aroma of ink as it lathers huge sheets of uncut paper. But because it’s an important publication, plain and simple, and just because I feel like I could give much of the same advice as the magazine, doesn’t mean the kid ransacking the thrift shop for vintage ties won’t find the same guidance and inspiration in GQ that I once did.  

16 comments:

Luis Valdizon said...

My favourite post in a long time Angelo. It was very well written and compelling - great work.

Will Anderson said...

I love to go back and flip through old issues and remember which advice I thought was great at the time and which advice actually was. I appreciate that they show men how to dress like men.

southerngentinnewengland.blogspot.com

p.m. said...

best. post. ever. mad, mad props.

Ryan said...

Great post man, seriously good writing...

Charles U. Farley said...

Yawn.

BeauxTieTiger said...

Yeah, so this one hit home today. Especially because my wife was trying to convince me to throw mine away. I dont condone hitting girls but almost did. Just messin. But anyway, i like GQ but cant stand their political articles. No matter what you think or which side your on, theirs suck and arent backed with facts....just sayin!

Keep up the good work!

blackandtannedny said...

Very, very well written post. It also strikes me as a very accurate assessment of the situation.

I'll be keeping the fact that I've researched my way *out* of GQ's target audience in mind moving forward, and I think I'll wind up giving them a lot more (likely deserved) credit as a result.

---Jonathan
http://blackandtannedny.wordpress.com

Zeph Colombatto said...

Right on Angelo. I really appreciate this post, as do so many others. As a former intern for GQ, I could see how they tailored to both the audience you speak of: the ones that want to know, and then the ones they have to reach out to, the ones that will broaden their reader base, by constantly revisiting the basics. It's interesting that you say guys like us have out grown the magazine, because I feel it too. I now read GQ, yes for the articles like always, but regard their work, their approach to style almost as motivation to one up them. Thanks for this!

Anonymous said...

i enjoyed this thoroughly. great post, great blog. the phrase "confidently certain" in the second paragraph is redundancy at its finest, however.

Angelo said...

Truth, that phrase is pretty redundant.

trip said...

I don't really like GQ, never have, but this is a good and well written article. Nice job.

MarcoBerlin said...

In my opinion, great post.
Have all the last years magazines as well. By now I am just flipping through them and reading about half the articles but sometimes I am thinking of an old outfit and look for it again in the old magazines in my shelf.

Junctioned said...

Great post. I've thought the same way about GQ and had even left the mag awhile back because of it. It can be hit or miss in the style dept with them but they do get it most of the time. I can imagine it hard for such an establishment as GQ to stay both commercially viable and relevant especially in this day and age when consumers are so informed. As a little bit older reader(30's)I'm much more attracted to the articles and reviews of the major city's food, culture and attractions for our particular lifestyle than anything else. It will be interesting to see how GQ matures and evolves as I do.

Matthew said...

Great post on a great topic!
I was also an avid GQ reader in my younger days. I share your view of how I am the one that has changed and wish that GQ could continue to inform me like it did back then. But supporting GQ is still a good thing to do. Like Will said, they have been educating men how to dress like men since 1958. Having just found your blog via @RugyRL I will put it on the list of quality style blogs to check out.

Ruffianism said...

I once had a subscription to GQ...And then I moved and forgot to call to change the mailing address. Nonetheless, if I had the money, I'd probably subscribe to it again.

AthensStyle said...

I've been a subscriber to GQ ever since I was in college back in 1995 as a freshman and since then I never stoped my subs. Do I read it as I used to do? No. Does it effect my style decisions as it used to do? No. Will I stop my subs? No. I think that GQ together with ESQ (also constant subs since 1995) try to be magazines for a very big target group, that means in term of style issues very basic things with the usual titles "do's and dont's". For all of us that we want something more and more advance this wont be enough. But those magazines were the base of our style journey...