Fantastic Man is a men’s fashion and lifestyle magazine founded by Gert Jonkers and Jop van Bennekom and released bi-annually by Amsterdam-based Top Publishers in March and September. It was launched in 2005 with the aim of re-inventing the ‘gentleman’s style journal’, and is sold across the world only as an English language version. Since 2009 it has been supported by daily content website while a sister publication, The Gentlewoman, launched in 2010.
Each edition has a circulation of around 85,000 copies – the UK being the chief readership location – and an 85:15 male:female reader ratio with a median age of 34 years. Fantastic Man is recognised as an important industry journal and, while it has a relatively small circulation, it is read and openly acknowledged as an influential source of style and trend-related information by key people within the fashion and design industry.
That the magazine is aimed at a well-educated, sophisticated, urbane and cultured audience is demonstrated by its rating of 15 under the Gunning Fox Index (a measure of the level of reader education and exposure based on editorial construction). It is primarily read by the upper income bracket earners with an average annual income around £90,000, so the £6 cover price is unlikely to be an issue.
Fantastic Man sets out to feature the best known, and frequently creative male celebrities of the day. Previous covers and editorials have included stars from the worlds of sport, stage and fashion, including David Beckham, Ewan McGregor and Tom Ford, but also features ‘real’ men too as the magazine likes to highlight its resistance to the use of professional models. They pride themselves on featuring men in clothes rather than models in fashion.
Fantastic Man features lengthy interviews with inspiring men with interesting personalities and personal style, and from many walks of lives – from architects to zoologists. Its tone is dry but honest and genuine. However, the journal defies editorial convention in that it has no editor’s preface, is a heavy tome at 311 pages but only 26% of content is adverts and advertorials. With adverts costing between £9,000 and £22,000 and almost exclusively single or double-page spreads, it is unsurprising that most of the adverts are for designer or luxury clothes, goods or fashion accessories. It stands out on the newsstand due to its unique 23.5cm by 30cm format; the mixture of matt and glossy, and heavy and lightweight papers; and, its concise but enlightening cover lines.
Despite not offering the greatest remuneration, Fantastic Man nevertheless still has the top photographers, stylists and models eager to come onboard, simply because it’s an eminent magazine in which to be seen. The cover reveal of Fantastic Man is always a much anticipated affair; although the publishers mixed it up with their recent issue and, instead of having a single, recognisable man, they selected a group of five anonymous men from Peniche in Portugal. This quite different approach was designed to convey an idea of community and collaboration and can be seen as an affirmation and acknowledgement of their readership – ordinary men wearing real clothes.