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Details is celebrating its 10th anniversary about seven months early, but who’s counting?
Editor in chief Dan Peres knew he wanted to mark the occasion of the magazine’s relaunch in 2000 (it actually was founded 28 years ago) sometime during the first half of the year, and when Robert Pattinson was confirmed for the cover, he decided on March. And the publishing side, overseen by senior vice president and publishing director William Wackermann, undoubtedly embraced the earlier celebration to boost first-half advertising. Last year was challenging for most magazines, and Details was no exception — ad pages fell 38 percent to 787.
The first few issues of 2010 mark somewhat of a new beginning for the title, or a “mini facelift,” according to Peres, who’s been tweaking the covers and some of the features.
The signature style of Steven Klein for Details — dark, a bit brooding and always shot in a studio — has been replaced by Norman Jean Roy, who has a penchant for infusing a more upbeat spirit into his images, while still maintaining some sex appeal. This is evident on the January/February cover with Channing Tatum, shot outside on location, and Pattinson for March, who’s fresh faced but laying his head between a woman’s thighs. For April, “Avatar” actor Sam Worthington was photographed in a studio, but “with more flattering lighting,” said Peres.
Roy has signed a contract with Details and will shoot covers for at least the next six months. “We needed to lighten things up a bit,” Peres noted. “I’ll be the first to say that we were getting too dark, with the content and the packaging of that content. There was an anxiety about everything going on with the economy and the election and if we’d ever be able to return to how things were before. It’s important now that we make an even stronger connection with our reader.”
And even though Details is playing with its covers, the title actually fared better than its competitors on the newsstand during the second half of last year, with sales declining 7.1 percent to 57,200. This compares with drops of 16.9 percent at GQ and 7.8 percent at Esquire, although both titles sell more on newsstand.
As for the inside of the magazine, there has been an effort to “re-engage and reconnect with the reader,” said Peres, in the front of the book’s “know + tell” and “style” sections.
“It’s a light redesign,” he said. “It’s cleaner, with lots of information, and it’s easier to navigate.”
The changes probably won’t end there, either, as Peres will continue to play with the architecture in coming issues. For April, he’s replaced the “dossier” section with a portfolio of young artists. “We’ll continue to sharpen our focus and tighten up the design,” he said.
But a magazine story these days isn’t complete without some mention of digital strategy, and, like any other editor, Peres pays close attention to the daily numbers on details.com. Based on the stories that attract the most interest, he often tinkers with the content and its placement on the site. He’s also planning to introduce a series of guest bloggers (although he’s not ready to reveal any names yet).
However, there are no plans for an iPhone app. Peres said Details’ parent Condé Nast (which also owns WWD) is using larger titles like GQ for research and development in the technology, planning eventually to roll out the apps to other magazines once “best practices” have been determined.