Hitting newsstands this week is the first of an annual endeavor from ESPN The Magazine: a fashion centric issue called the Style Report. The special issue marks a major move toward including more fashion coverage than ever before.
While this might be a risky move for a sports publication, Steven Binder, Vice President, Publishing Director for ESPN The Magazine, told FishbowlNY that he was completely confident.
When we suggested that this seemed like an attempt to lure more female readers, he countered that 20 percent of ESPN The Magazine’s subscription base is women, so that wasn’t the case. The shift, said Binder, was actually in response to reader – both male and female – feedback.
“This is something our readers want to know about. They want to see what athletes are wearing on and off the field. We’re not looking to become a fashion magazine at all, but this is the beginning of an increase in our coverage.”
He says that as time goes on, the magazine will incorporate about four to six pages dedicated to style and fashion, adding that readers will appreciate it “because it’s going to be done organically.”
To help usher in the fashion coverage, Binder has hired Samantha Rubin as the magazine’s first Fashion Director. Rubin brings plenty of experience, having worked at Men’s Health for the past five years as Associate Fashion Editor.
By incorporating more pieces on clothes and styling, ESPN The Magazine is increasing the distance between itself and its main competitor, Sports Illustrated. The differences in the brands are becoming more clear, which can only help gain readers. Those seeking straight sports coverage are going to pick up SI, while those looking for sports as well as lifestyle features are going to gravitate toward ESPN.
Binder is more than happy to push this movement, because he thinks that’s what truly makes ESPN The Magazine unique. “While others are cutting back we’re making additions, and it’s all because we’re about what’s next, not what has already happened.”
The future, at least for ESPN The Magazine, is looking great.