CCTP-725 Cultural Hybridity
Communication, Culture & Technology
Georgetown University, 2012 Spring
Professor Martin Irvine
Yvonne Junya Yuan

The New Urban Favorite in Chinese Consumer Society - Male Fashion Magazines
While women’s style magazines in China can be traced back to the end of the nineteenth century, it was only in the recent decade that lifestyle magazines directly targeting at the male readership group emerged. Since 2000, the Chinese men’s fashion magazine began to flourish and experienced a rapid growth period. And now the number of men’s fashion magazine in china is over twenty, although the number was only five in 2003. This phenomenon seems to prove that besides financial, sports and automobile magazines, there is a new window opening up to the world of reading for Chinese men- the male fashion magazine.
The Year 2004 could be marked as the year of Chinese male fashion magazines. The center of attraction was definitely the launch of FHM (originally published as For Him Magazine)《男人装》as it defined itself showing the natural color of men and aimed at audiences which are the so called urban post-yuppie, and the almost-cross-line sexy photos (considering the conservative conditions in China). Forward and backward, there come the initial or revised version of Metropolis|大都市(男士版), Mangazine|名牌,Wo|男人志 and Outlook|新视线. Meanwhile, internationally famous male magazines like GQ (originally published as Gentlemen’s Quarterly) and Maxim itched to have a slice of the cake. However, after one year’s market test, few survived, leaving others end up with abortion or full-scale facelift.
Why suddenly a bunch of male magazines sprung up? Why in a short period of one year, some of them progressed into the “Soup of the Month” for the male soul while some just couldn’t escape from the destiny of defeat? Both as the subjection of the fashion industry, is there lying a deeper level of social significance for male magazines than female ones? All these magazines are copperplate printed and pricy, and aimed at upper class, but is all the content of high grade and noble character? From the perspective of sociology, what’s the relationship between male fashion magazine and the specific social strata? The above questions are mainly discussed and studied in this essay.

2. Concept, Theory and Context
2.1 Consumer Society
There is all around us today a kind of fantastic conspicuousness of consumption and abundance, constituted by the multiplication of objects, services and material goods, and this represents something of a fundamental mutation in the ecology of the human species.... We live by object time: by this I mean we live at the pace of object, live to the rhythm of their ceaseless succession.--Jean Baudrillard
As Jean Baudrillard depicted the consumer society in the first paragraph in his book, it rests on consuming material goods as a paramount feature of its balance and values; hence, people who do not consume are undervalued. Consumer culture became the predominant pattern of culture reproduction in western culture, and with the economic globalization, it has reached every part of the world. The blanket advertisements, dazzling shopping malls, ubiquitous new media swept all over our life, even you are living in the most remote region, you could smell it. Undoubtedly, media has played a pivot role in encouraging consumption. And one typical example is the fashion magazines’ function in vigorously advocating the fashionable lifestyle as well as the material comforts.
2.2 Fashion
In order to explore the fashion magazines, the first thing is to define the concept of “fashion”. Plenty of sociologists and fashion scholars have made the definition under their own research framework with different emphasis. As Edward Alsworth Ross once put it, “FASHION is a series of recurring changes in the choices of a group of people which, though they may be accompanied by utility, are not determined by it.” And Bell argues that fashion is the essential virtue in a garment without which its intrinsic values can hardly be perceived; fashion encompasses the value added to clothing, which exist only in people’s imaginations and beliefs.
2.3 Fashion Magazine
As regard to the relationship between lifestyle and fashion, Mike Featherstone believed that the term “lifestyle” is currently in vogue. While the term has a more restricted sociological meaning in reference to the distinctive style of life of specific status group, within contemporary consumer culture it connotes individuality, self-expression, and a stylistic self-consciousness. One’s body, clothes, speech, leisure pastimes, eating and drinking preference, home, car, choice of holidays, etc. are to be regarded as indicators of the individuality of taste and sense of style of the owner/consumer. This explains why the fashion magazines are usually called “lifestyle magazine” by western publishers. The promotion of certain lifestyle is always the focus of fashion magazines, introduction of clothing and make-up trends are far from perfection. As for male fashion magazines, information about 3C products, automobiles, sports and health is indispensable. Although different fashion magazines have different preferences and target readers, what they share in common is the purpose of remodeling people’s fashion concept by telling them which several are recognized as faddish and which ones are considered as out of vogue. Yuniya Kawamura also labeled the editors for fashion magazines as gatekeepers who make aesthetic judgments and decisions to ensure the high hurdle of fashion.

3. Bibliographic Review

3.1 Foreign Research Findings

In foreign countries, especially the western world, a set of mature system of the male fashion magazine production has been established, covering editing, distributing, branding and so on. The study of relevant theory is also fruitful. When speaking of research on male fashion magazines, we have to start with media and gender studies. Floating in the various streams of thoughts in the feminist movement, scholars began to pay attention to the representation of masculinity through media. Since Robert Connell raised the concept of “Hegemonic Masculinity” in 1987, the theoretical achievements have a concentrated reflection on the heroes of movies and TV series, male fashion magazines and advertisements. Mort related the advent of male fashion magazine to the upsurge of consumption, while Sean Nixon investigated in the visual symbols and signs of masculinity in the magazine culture. Some scholars assume that the mutation of the magazine market in UK is the reflection of male gender relations and the delicate change in identity. In 2001, Peter Jackson, Nick Stevenson and Kate Brooks co-published Making Sense of Men’s Magazines in which the relationships among male gender anxiety, health, career, sex and consumer culture are discussed.
3.2 Domestic Research Status
Compared with the Chinese male fashion magazine thrive in real life, the research in theoretical realm is kind of silent and still. Few industry experts covers this area, even they have, are only some fragmentary essays, not to mention any monograph or academic thesis of magnitude. The first research paper on Chinese male fashion magazine is The Study of Brand Image and Lifestyle Affect consumer Behavior of Men’s Fashion Magazine written by Zhili Wang and Yalin Jiang of Taiwan Ming Chuan University in the late 90s.
The studies in mainland China are mainly about the practical operation level, including content, marketing and prospect of Chinese male fashion magazines. The traditional articles published on scholarly journals are scarce, most essays scatter over the blogs or online channels, like Chinese Male Magazines, Dancing in Chains by Feng Huang and Remarks on the Features of Chinese Male Fashion Magazines by Jiameng Wang. One person worth mention here is Thin Horse (pen name), the editor in chief of FHM, who wrote many analytical articles pointing out the reasons why the market of male fashion magazines in mainland China is so gloomy, say the Black Book of Male Fashion Magazine, Having the Male Fashion Magazines X-RAYED, Who Is Reading Your Magazine, First Sell Your Cover, Then Sell Your Content. Above all, the research about Chinese male fashion magazines is just underway, waiting for filling up the vacancy in the field.

4. Major Chinese Male Fashion Magazines
The Esquire|时尚先生 is generally recognized as the first male fashion magazine in mainland China, its mature and noble style has established the orientation for Chinese male fashion magazines. It was founded in August 1993 and started copyright cooperation with Hearst Corporation’s Esquire in April 1999. Continuing the elegant style of Esquire, it began to meet the demand of younger readers by adding space for hot topics of entertainment and cultural concerns.
FHM /男人装 began publishing in May 2004 by Trends in Beijing and cooperates with Emap’s FHM in UK. It has received much controversy as population since its first issue because of its ingenious and tactful application of sexual appealing, avoiding making their white-collar target audience feel awkward to buy the magazines because it is considered improper in Chinese culture. Nowadays, it has been the hottest male magazine in China.
Men’s Health|时尚健康 is the second magazine published by Trends, cooperating with Rodal’s Men’s Health. It emphasizes on eliminating pressure and being healthy, guiding male readers to care about their body.
Mangazine|名牌 is produced by South Weekend and administrated by Nanfang Media Group. It's the only male fashion magazine without copyrite cooperation with foreign magazines and develops on its own. It pursuits the profundity of its idea and integrates the political, financial, historical, technical information which male readers are interested in. The responsibility to the society is also emphasized.
Men’s Uno|男人志 collaborates with Men’s Uno of Taiwan, covering the news and trends important to today’s young men, including fashion and accessories, fitness and beauty, as well as lifestyle and romance. The main target is centered on audience of single male between the age group of 18 to 35. And the categories of the magazine are similar to female fashion magazines.
Maxim|风度 made its debut in China in 2005, it cooperates with Maxim, one of several so-called lads’ magazines that started in Britain and is known for photos of cantily clad starlets as well as cheeky articles on sex, sports and fun. The overall style and target readers are very similar to FMH which won a priority for entering the market.
GQ|智族 released its first issue in October 2009 and collaborates with Condé Nast’s GQ Magazine. As the male equivalent of Vogue, it focuses on fashion and culture through articles on news, movies, fitness, sex, music, travel, sports, technology, and books.
men_s%20uno090201.jpg 2311100345.jpgimg.jpg

5. Major Reasons of the Emergence of Chinese Male Fashion Magazines

5.1 The Rise of Middle Class in China

Along with the social transformation in 1978, the Chinese middle class arose. On the one hand, they share the common characters with international middle class, being the most sensitive group in the social hierarchical structure and the most fragile population in the social change. Their tenderness towards the hard-earned social standing drives them to make every effort to seek for the self-actualization and social recognition. Thus, the relating taste and style remain in the spotlight of their concerns as well as the key points of their consumer behavior.
On the other hand, they possess their own traits. As the revitalizing class born with aura like “social elite” “ elegant backbone of China”, and have no upper class to admire or envy but imitate the middle class and upper class in developed countries, they have an ingrained superiority complex in them. They live a glossing life from the outsiders’ view, but on the inside, they grasp the fashion appearance to camouflage and fill the inner void and anxiety. Writing full of “taste” and “lifestyle”, fashion magazines, after all could hardly conceal their esteem towards wealth because it is the great price behind the luxury ware really matters.
Different from female who are forever seeking something new, male consumers lays much attention to the classification and personality. Then how does the consumption embody the classification thing? Pierre Bourdieu, the French sociologist, developed theories of social class fractions based on aesthetic taste in his best known book Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste in 1979, claiming that how one chooses to present one’s social space to the world-one’s aesthetic dispositions-depicts one’s status and distances oneself from lower groups. [1]According to Bourdieu, “tastes in food, culture and presentation are indicators of class because trends in their consumption seemingly correlate with an individual’s fit in society. Each fraction of the dominant class develops its own aesthetic criteria.”[2]A multitude of consumer interests based on differing social positions necessitates that each fraction “has its own artists and philosophers, newspapers and critics, just as it has its hairdresser, interior decorator, or tailor.”[3]Taste classifies, and it classifies the classifier. Social subjects, classified by their classifications, distinguish themselves by the distinction they make, between the beautiful and the ugly, the distinguished and the vulgar, in which their position in the objective classifications is expressed or betrayed.
In the light of this theory, fashion magazines seized the opportunity of being the guidance of consumption where the consumer fractions are in progress, the so-called “culture taste” are pure imitation of United States and Europe, and the unique preferences of Chinese middle class have not shaped yet. Magazines command the power to define and classify their readers, portraying an elegant and relaxing picture for the middle class gentlemen.
5.2 The Growth of Consumer Demand
Before the capitalist industrialization, there are various regulations to limit people purchase goods within their own social class; while the consumer society put up such a facade where everybody could consume everything they desire, “yet here, legitimate taste, knowledge of the principles of classification, hierarchy and appropriateness is restricted, as is the case in fashion systems….It is in this context that taste, the discriminatory judgment, the knowledge or culture capital, which enables particular groups or categories of people to understand and classify new goods appropriately and how to use them, becomes important.
Baudrillared has depicted the consumer society as saturated with signs, messages and images, and the manipulation of signs is crucial in consumption. To be more specific, it’s through media and advertising that the values dispatched from the products. Within the fashion system, fashion magazines serve as the king of communicating fashion symbols. For those who have a rage for climbing up to the higher class, reading fashion magazines is one way to learn the knowledge of taste, discriminatory judgment and classification. The manufacturers wish to have their concepts and productions gain wide currency; the acquisitive minds hope to become a master of fashion and their life; the fashion magazines emerge, as the times and situations require.
The development of male fashion industry is the prerequisite of growth of male fashion magazines. Female fashion industry has a long standing and is well established, whereas it’s within the recent ten years that the male fashion industry started to expand and the male fashionable behavior is get rid of the “dandy” or “sissy” taunt. Besides the traditional formal wear, casual wear, sportswear, cigarettes and wines, new items such as cosmetics, skin care products and body shape products are coming in thick and fast. Digital products also position themselves to be the fashion must-have and upgrade every now and then. Furthermore, the automobile manufacturers, airline companies and luxurious hotels combined to provide the high-quality service. The complete male fashion industry is built up and turned into the advertiser of the male fashion magazines.
5.3 The Prevalence of MetrosexualMetrosexual is a neologism derived from metropolitan and heterosexual coined in 1994 by Mark Simpson in his article Here Come the Mirror Men published on The Independent. However, it was not until the 2002 when Simpson returned to the subject that the term became globally popular. He identified David Beckham as the metrosexual poster boy as the typical metrosexual is a young man with money to spend, living in or within easy reach of a metropolis — because that’s where all the best shops, clubs, gyms and hairdressers are. He might be officially gay, straight or bisexual, but this is utterly immaterial because he has clearly taken himself as his own love object and pleasure as his sexual preference.
In China, the first generation of metrosexual figure is F4. The Taiwanese boy band gained celebrity across the Asia for the Meteor Garden TV series in 2001. In the play, the four boys were the most popular and handsome boys at the university; they were recognized as the group named the "Flower Four", hence the title: F4. They rocketed to star overnight, so does the trend of flower-boy, who throw oneself into the work of attiring from hair to toes, even surpass girls.
Frank Mort has portrayed the late twentieth-century British society-interweaving themes of gender, commerce and geography, economy and culure- as this: consumption came to occupy a privileged place in the social fabric. Two distinct foci of this new culture can be noted: young men, and London. A distinctive market developed which was aimed at young men; they were encouraged to turn their attention to purchasing for themselves, and “the new man” became a beacon of a new British economic future. Fashion stylists, journalists, advertisers, marketing executives and graphic designers all joined forces to create a plurality of new male identities. These commercial and advertising texts were more than mere scripts for consumption, however, for they also “shaped the interiority of experience” of those who partook of them; “commercial signposts” came to occupy a significant part in young men’s narrative of self. Although the discussed topic is “the new men” in Britain, his viewpoints are based on the consumer culture, the research result is of reference value when study all the consumer culture issues.

6. Main Features of Chinese Male Fashion Magazines
From my personal perspective, we can divide current Chinese male fashion magazines into three subcategories, namely, gentlemen magazines, beer culture magazines, trendsetter magazine. The gentlemen magazines include The Esquire|时尚先生, Mangazine|名牌, Metropolis|大都会(男士版) and GQ|智族. These magazines aim at providing the social elites with advice on leisure life and on uplifting the taste and quality of their life. By contrast, the beer culture magazines slant toward a hedonistic lifestyle, with wine, sports and sex as their common themes, represented by FHM /男人装 and Maxim|风度. As to the trendsetter magazines, like Men’s Uno|男人志 and Esquire|时尚先生, they construct a fashion manual for young men who are obsessed with fashion and want to keep up with the latest trends. What in common among all the types of male fashion magazines is stated in the following part.
6.1 Symbolization of Fashion
The primary concern in consumer society is symbol. Symbols that are edit and defined by the authoritative fashion groups and magazine editorials in the fashion system cannot be more arbitrary. The most typical and important contents of fashion are clothing and make-up, which are the focus of female fashion magazines but the weakened sections in the male fashion magazines. The reason is that if overemphasize the significance of appearance, the inner are going to be ignored, contradicting to the power pattern in the male world. When talking about clothing and make-up, male fashion magazines usually take two methods. The first one is stressing how the appearance represents the inner quality and social status. For instance, there is one paragraph the Esquire|时尚先生 saying, “Every man is expecting to become the mature man in both others and his own eyes. It is just like the forever-classic item, business suit. The charm of the real mature man lies in the endowing meanings rather than reduced to tools. ” Here, business suit is identical with maturity. And the reiteration of “man” emphasized the gender role. Together with the texts are a series of photos, illustrating a male model standing in an antiquate scenario, wearing superior business suits, watch, tie, suitcase and leather shoes. In the semantic of fashion, watch stands for precision, suitcase speaks for business elite, leather shoes means enjoying life and tie represents the details. In the whole, a man dressed appropriately and concerns with details is a successful and mature man. The other method is to accentuate the advantage of gaining social skills with good-looking. It’s not only about attracting women, but also harvesting the recognition of peers and the whole society.
6.2 Commercialization of Body
In his book The Body in Consumer Culture, Mike Featherstone drew attention to the discipline
Zhang Chaoyang and his flat belly
d body, “Discipline and hedonism are no longer seen as incompatible, and indeed the subjugation of the body through body maintenance routines is presented within consumer culture as a precondition for achievement of an acceptable appearance and the release of the body’s expressive capacity….Within consumer culture the body is proclaimed as a vehicle of pleasure: its desirable and desiring and the closer the actual body approximates to the idealized images of youth, health, fitness and beauty the higher its exchange-value. ” As body is recoded by consumer society, the leading two themes are “beauty” and “eroticism”. But the meanings have changed. In the viewpoint of Baudrillard, “ The ethics of beauty, may be defined as the reduction of all concrete values- the ‘use-values’ of the body-to a single functional ‘exchange-value’….We have clearly to distinguish the erotic as a generalized dimension of exchange in our societies from sexuality properly so called. We have to distinguish the erotic body-substrate of the exchanged signs of desire-from the body as site of fantasy and abode of desire. In the ‘eroticized’ body, it is the social function of exchange which predominates.” The body is no longer flesh as in the traditional conception, it has taken up in its materiality as the functional xin_110703041605828587472.jpgexchange value.Male fashion magazines have provided a series of ideal body sample to the readers, just not as specific as the female body criteria do. For men, the general criterion is healthy. But being healthy is not a simple task, it requires responsibility, sobriety, planning and persistence. An outstanding shape is a proof of excellent inner personality. Meanwhile, a healthy body represents the economic strength covering fitness equipment and gym membership as well as the time for exercising means high social status. In the preface of Men’s Health|时尚健康 October 2004, the editorial wrote: “if a man still has efficient control of his own abdomen in his 30s, he is man with health consciousness. The foundation of the health consciousness is that the man has leisure time, brain, financial capability and high quality of his life as well as working environment. The flat abdomen also proves him to be a person who is free from laziness, indulgence and passiveness. What’s more, he has aesthetic requirements of his own life. A man of this kind is destined to success.” In this issue, there is an essay named the commercial value and aesthetic function of Zhang Chaoyang’s waist measurement. The cover is the upper body exposed Mr.Zhang( who is the Founder, Chairman and current CEO of Inc. and one of the richest men in China), showing his flat abdomen.

Different from the graceful, steady and successful image portrayed by gentlemen magazines, trendsetter magazines offer a new masculinity, featuring in stylish, narcissistic, emotional and epicurean. The younger generation men in China never talk about career, but love to discuss the workplace outfit; they never talk about sex, but love to share their emotional experiences; they never purchase the most expensive products but are ardent to search for the most special ones. Unfold the Men’s Uno|男人志, you will find it’s almost the same as female fashion magazines except for the models are male. The contents covers the latest fashion items and trends, the match of outfits, the complicated make-up procedures and cosmetics, the hairstyles, the shopping guide, the home furnishing and even relationship issues. The c1134033220_43_1.jpgover model is always good-looking male stars, no gentlemen, no tough guy, but male with feminine features. The Men’s Uno|男人志 2006 April’s cove star is Seven. In the picture, his side face is so delicate and pretty. He leans forward, slightly lifting his chin, placing his right hand at the collar, looking at the lens with indolent eyesight, exerting a backward and self-protecting stance. He has absolutely no sense of aggressive or confident, but self-admiring, just like appreciating himself in the mirror. If we say that the male in the Esquire|时尚先生 have some link with the social producers, then the male in Men’s Uno|男人志 are completely consumers.
Trendsetter|大道 has a very distinguished cover-a successful man plus a famous female star. This kind of combination, on the one hand, shows the resource advantage of the magazine and on the other hand expresses the contents of the magazine, which is about the life of successful men and beautiful women. What’s interesting about the body patterns of the “couple” displayed in the cover is that the male is always static or poses a gesture indicating protecting and guiding, and the female is dynamic. The male seems to be pondering over something, not paying attention to the female beside him, however, the female is kind of worshiping the male by trying hard to draw his attention or just following his guidance. The contrast indicates that male has the absolute control and confidence in his body.
The male body is only a small section in the female fashion magazines, whereas the female body can’t be overstressed in male fashion magazines. The magazine that enjoys the largest proportion of sales in the market in China is FHM /男人装. It reveals a raft of blatant front cover image of scantily clad young women and headlining of articles concerning sex or women. In comparison with the simple bikini women under the blank background in foreign version of FHM, the photos of China version attach more importance to the construction of the scenarios. The models in the pictures give readers a sense of distance. Their bodies present an open attitude on purpose of attracting men’s eyes. From their expressions and surroundings, you cannot tell their identity, personality or history. All the female bodies turn into modeled images with obscure faces. There is no exception for beer magazines to use the hot female images as the covers.


7. Conclusion
This paper attempts to figure out how Chinese male magazines construct the consumerist middle-class masculinity in post socialist China and the effect on diffusion of fashion and consumer culture. By depicting male magazines’ history and the actuality, the article analyzes the major reasons of the emergence of Chinese fashion male magazines, which are the middle class’s demand, fashion industry’s development and metrosexual influence. Furthermore, two features of the male magazines in China are mapped out as the fashion symbolization and body commercialization on the basis of examining the texts and pictures of several magazine samples.

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