The models of publishing have been undergoing rapid change in recent years. It’s clear that the traditional print magazine certainly hasn’t had an easy time. What has effectively been the established mode of disseminating fashion –or other popular information- even since the start of the twentieth century has undergone extreme revision in the new economic landscape precipitated by economic turmoil and technological change. Some pioneers have headed steadfastly into digital territory. And even those who have continued to produce print have had to rethink very carefully. Low pricing –or even free- has been one strategy, hoping to recoup the dividends through advertising in exchange for ‘eyeballs’.
This latter strategy has already practically revolutionised the traditional newspaper industry, for example. But, save for a few interesting exceptions to the rule, free magazines that address the traditional fashion, culture and lifestyle topics with the same feel of a glossy have been pretty limited in their success. They have either failed to gain a sufficiently luxurious or, at least, seductive feel. Or, they seem to have struggled to find their target audience, perhaps trying too hard to appeal to everyone in the locations of their distribution.
One such exception is Spain’s Calle 20, now on its 63rd issue. It’s certainly a fairly mainstream publication aiming to appeal to a broad audience within the larger Spanish cities in which it’s distributed with perhaps a slant towards a younger, trendy readership. But, unlike many titles trying to get a foothold in the somewhat new ‘free glossy’ market, Calle 20 has taken a bolder approach to fashion editorial. Maybe it instinctively understands that successful fashion editorial is more often than not about aspiration and fantasy, not grubby reality. Grim practicality is all too obvious on the daily commute or during one’s lunch hour. So, whatever the reason, Calle 20’s fashion editorial eschews a dull, mousy approach that some have thought would appeal to Mr and Ms Average in favour of the slick, professional, creative qualities that we expected from established glossy titles.
A fine example of this is the shoot by Chesco López, styled by José Herrera, in the current issue. Titled ‘Instintos Primarios’ – which one takes to be about primal instincts- won’t necessarily make the animal rights activists happy. But, filled with pelts, hides and soft furry materials, it will probably appeal to anyone who fancies a bit of tactile warmth this winter.
Presented in a subtly faded-out palette that perfectly compliments the earthy natural tones of the seductive skins profiled, it showcases a broad range of brands with a whiff of the ethnological and anthropological imagery that has appealed to fashion a lot of late. What makes the shoot particularly notable is that it also takes the sculptural approach that has often been championed by the title, ensuring that fashion is made public through bold and memorable images rather than a prosaic illustration. Calle 20 understands that the daily grind can be dull enough and that fashion simply doesn’t have to amplify the ennui.