Before a recent trip to visit a friend, while waiting for my flight to board, I decided to pick up the latest issue of GQ magazine, my first in almost five years, and was appalled by what I read. Apparently, a lad named Shia LaBeouf in an interview confessed that he used to crap in his pants until he was 12 years old. Did I just read this? Really? In GQ? As I continued to read on the plane, it became apparent that GQ had deteriorated into a fashion equivalent of MTV: a fashion magazine without the fashion. Page after page of sponsor driven drivel on topics I could care less about, and more importantly, with almost no pictorials.
Thirty thousand feet up in the air, I began to panic. I wanted to be taken back to that happy place when I was a little kid staring at my coloring books. I wanted to see pictures! It was also then that I inadvertently discovered how much I have longed for a magazine that spoke to my inner child and showed me nothing but pictorials of clothing and allowed me to decide whether I liked the fit of the jacket or the combination of a tie and a shirt. Fortunately, with the help of my fellow pundits at Style Forum, that magazine exists and I found it! Let me introduce you to Men’s Ex.
This Japanese magazine with the motto “Nice Look Nice Life!” is one of a handful Asian fashion magazines slowly gaining popularity in the United States. Yet, what makes Men’s Ex different from the likes of Zino, Leon, and Uomo, is its emphasis is on high end Italian clothing with immaculate emphasis on detail. Roughly ninety percent of this two hundred page magazine consists of photos of clothes, with brands like Ermenegildo Zegna, Brunello Cucinelli, Cesare Attolini, and Kiton featured in almost every issue. The other roughly ten percent is dedicated to cars, food and men’s lifestyle.
Men’s Ex is presented in a rather simple format. The magazine is divided into multi-page sections on suits, jackets, shirts, ties, shoes, bags, watches, combinations thereof, and other accessories, just to name a few. Often, there is a side by side comparison of brands. For example, in the March 2008 issue, there is a side by side comparison of Boglioli and Rafaelo Caruso suits, Isaia and Belvest suits, and Kiton and Cesare Attolini suits. In addition, in every issue, there is a section that deals with picking the right color combination to accompany shirts, ties, and suits.
Every time I get my hands on a new issue of Men’s Ex, I spend hours browsing through it. Months later, I keep coming back for more. Simply put, there is nothing quite like Men’s Ex on the domestic market and my inability to speak Japanese is not a handicap because the brand names are in English. Moreover, the fact that the magazine is in Japanese works to my advantage, as it makes me pay closer attention to detail. In addition, since Men’s Ex is oriented toward the Asian market, there are brands that American consumers are not familiar with, like Mark Bladog shoes, Albertelli shirts, or Stefanomano bags, just to name a few. Hence, reading Men’s Ex is also educational, leading to further discovery of new, interesting brands.
My only slight complaint about Men’s Ex is how difficult it is to get a copy in Florida. If you live in a metropolitan city with a large Asian population, many Asian convenience stores will carry Men’s Ex, but be prepared to pay as little as $8 or as much as $20 per issue. Some of these vendors may even offer you a yearly subscription that will set you back as much as $200. For the rest of us, places like eBay or friends in big cities are the only way to get our hands on this spectacular magazine. Once you do, however, you will understand what the fuss is all about, and will never again go back to rubbish being touted as a fashion magazine.