Esquire Creates Home Furnishing Franchise

For more than seven decades, Hearst’s Esquire has presented itself as a sourcebook for guys, showing them how to dress, eat and act like a man. Now, with the launch of a new line of home furnishings, it’ll show them how to decorate like one too.

The Esquire Home collection will span some 90 items including furniture, accessories, lighting and rugs for the home and home office. The line will go on sale this fall at a yet-to-be named New York home décor specialty store. Hearst plans to eventually roll it out at a variety of retailers nationwide.

Magazine companies, with print advertising revenue shrinking, are taking a more hands-on role in managing their brand extensions. In the case of Esquire Home, Hearst designed the line in-house and will work directly with the retailers rather than through a licensing partner.

The average guy may leave home furnishings decisions to others, but Kevin O’Malley, Esquire’s vp, publisher, said the title’s readers are more likely to have a say in those purchases. They apparently are wealthier, too; sofas in the collection start at $3,000 and chairs, $995. “Eighty-nine percent of our readers are primary decision makers in the purchase of furniture,” he said. “That’s much higher than the average guy.”

At stores, the Esquire collection will be housed in its own space that will span some 700 square feet. To further increase the likelihood of store traffic and purchases, Esquire will host events at the retailer to which it will invite subscribers who live in the surrounding area.

“I think all retailers want traffic, and they want what they call prequalified loyalists,” said Glen Ellen Brown, vp, brand development for Hearst. “We can take the loyalist and literally use all the assets of the magazine to put them through the door of the retailer.”

Bonnie Barest, evp and group account director at MPG, said that if the products, retail environment and price points are all right, the collection could help Esquire build on the Esquire Apartments, the annual bachelor pad that the magazine creates with designers and sponsors.

“It’s an interesting way to further what they want to stand for,” she said.“They were usually doing it for other brands, so why not do it for themselves?”