Do You Like Luxury?

Zachary Roth writes up an analysis of both DC Style and Capitol File in the latest issue of Washington Monthly. The piece is largely an on-the-scene account from Capitol File’s launch party in November but it does have a few interesting nuggets:

  • “But Capitol File–along with a competitor, Washington D.C. Style, which launched earlier this year–is trying to change all that. The inherent difficulty of the task can be seen in the fact that both magazines held their launch parties at Oya. D.C. may have plenty of expensive steakhouses, but the short list of truly cutting-edge venues is, well, short.”

  • “And there’s a hint of hometown defensiveness inside the magazines themselves. The new issue of Capitol File blurbs photos of partygoers with the tired line about D.C. being ‘Hollywood for ugly people.’ ‘Not true!’ the magazine adds indignantly.”

  • “Side by side, the magazines look pretty similar, but there are important differences. D.C. Style is ‘luxury,’ while Capitol File is ‘ultra-luxury,’ D.C. Style editor Sarah Schaffer told me.

  • “So, what makes these magazines think they can sell the luxury–not to mention ultra-luxury–lifestyle to a city where even the interns wear black or grey business suits and carry briefcases? In recent years, thanks both to the northern Virginia tech boom, and to the doubling in size of D.C.’s lawyer-lobbying industry, the capital region has developed a burgeoning population of professionals earning Manhattan-like levels of income.”

  • “But what Capitol File lacks in aggressive reporting, it more than makes up for in P.R. and marketing. The magazine hired Linda Roth Associates, a veteran D.C. publicity operation, to get itself noticed, and went with ‘Capitol’ rather than the more logical ‘Capital’–it covers more than the capitol building, after all–after focus groups confirmed that the ‘o’ spelling more effectively conveyed Washington’s distinct identity as the seat of government.”

Note from Garrett: Interesting that the article completely skips over Modern Luxury’s DC Magazine, which launched at the same time as Capitol File and, arguably, might be the best funded of the three.