Monday, March 17, 2008

Monocle - one year on

When Monocle magazine made its publishing debut in March 2007, it seemed an idiosyncratic launch. But a year on it’s still with us and selling 150,000 copies a month. The features cover business, politics and culture, which you have to admit sounds a lot like The Economist, but its character is much quirkier and it’s presentational style delivers so much more than the words on the page. A feature on the Finnish border police includes a camp picture of two guards that wouldn’t be out of place in a Diesel Jeans advert.

A year on the breadth of features remain impressive – the latest includes Panama’s economy, a profile on Australia’s new gay Malay/Chinese MP, property in Tokyo, German socks and sport in Qatar - you couldn’t help but wonder if this is a wild and expensive whimsy of its founder and editor – Tyler Brûlé – the man who successfully developed Wallpaper*, a design title, yet sold it for squillions. To be fair, Brûlé’s skill lies in the fact that a magazine at its best doesn’t have to reflect a demographic, but give the readers a style of life to aspire to, namely that of all-knowing, über-cool global citizens jetting between Manchester and Montevideo.

Some of the business coverage is probably a bit shallow. Some of the political features concentrate too much on “look and feel” rather than policy. All of which rather adds to the notion that it isn’t quite The Economist, but is more fun, certainly. And it’s what that publication would be like if it was put together by gay men. Happy birthday.

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