W2W: What to Watch - The Fall Of Martha Stewart, The Tough Go Shopping, Maturation Or Saturation?, The Primitivist Movement

Picking up after Martha…Trying to get Lucky…Sink or swim for the celebrity weeklies and lad magazines…Nothing slick about these mags.

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Stewart might also be supplanted by her hipster spiritual children, Budget Living and Readymade, both of which appear primed to break out in 2004. The former won launch of the year honors from both Ad Age and AdWeek in 2003, while the latter just received an investment from an undisclosed publisher that will help fund a frequency increase to bimonthly and drive circulation growth next year.

“I don’t see [Stewart’s] hold on the American homemaking imagination being loosened up anytime soon,” said Readymade editor Shoshana Berger. “But that doesn’t mean the playing field hasn’t opened up.”

The Tough Go Shopping

Labeled a threat to literacy when it debuted three years ago, Lucky now looks like the most influential magazine of the decade. Condé Nast’s decision to clone the title for men touched off a stampede of publishers looking to cash in on the premise.

Condé Nast’s Cargo arrives in March, followed by Vitals from Fairchild’s Details in the fall. (Fairchild is the parent of WWD and both it and Condé Nast are owned by Advance Publications.) A second wave of gadget-centric titles from tech publishers Ziff Davis and IDG is expected soon after that, while Primedia’s entry, Best, is already on sale.

Besides the obvious rationale for piling into the niche (because that’s where the money is), the players involved can tick off all sorts of reasons why this looks like 2004’s hot category. “This seems to be the right time, right now, that men are comfortable purchasing things for themselves,” said Cargo publisher Alan Katz. “Certainly that’s true in the fashion and grooming arenas. I think men now have cultural permission to buy certain things.”

Cargo’s editorial will be split 50-50 between fashion-grooming and everything else, Katz said — “stereos, computers, cell phones, guitars, liquor” — or in other words, anything aimed at men that can be advertised. Vitals is expected to take more of a pure fashion approach, while Ziff’s and IDG’s entries will dwell almost entirely on consumer electronics — not a bad bet when the iPod was at the top of this holiday season’s gift list.

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