I’m not sure how many of you know this but Arena magazine finally ceased publication a couple of weeks ago. And whilst I don’t really think it’s been all that good for several years now (it just didn’t seem to be able to decide what it was or who it was for), its passing marks the end of an era in men’s magazines.
In many ways, I owe a lot to Arena. As a journalist I never contributed to it but it was the magazine that first piqued my interest in male grooming – many, many moons ago! Back in 1986 when it launched, the whole notion of male grooming was still in its infancy. Arena was one of the first men’s mags to even discuss grooming – without snickering – and without it today’s raft of men’s mags (and websites!) wouldn’t be nearly so comfortable discussing the ins-and-outs of fake tan, face scrubs and acne potions.
What’s more, I wouldn’t be writing about them! It was Arena that got me curious about moisturisers (I bought my first one from the then-new Body Shop!) and fragrances (I purchased my first bottle of Geoffrey Beene’s Grey Flannel after seeing it advertised in Arena and still wear it today twenty years on). These days, of course, men’s mags aren’t quiet so influential – the internet is where it’s all at. But as another title joins that great magazine rack in the sky (I still haven’t fully recovered from the demise of Smash Hits) I just wanted to take a minute to give credit where it’s due. Which is rather big of me considering the sods never published my letter about the state of British pop music back in 1988.
PS. Since I wrote this blog Maxim too has folded. And my spies in the industry tell me there is to be one more casualty in the men’s magazine market before long…