In the past year, Maxim's new editor-in-chief Kate Lanphear has already completely reinvented the magazine's "lad mag" image, crowned Taylor Swift at the top of the reimagined "Hot List," and now her September issue is making history for the publication. "We’ve never in US Maxim history had a man on the cover solo," Lanphear told Racked, noting that there have been male stars on Maxim flip covers and men have been featured on the cover alongside women before. "This is the very first time, and there was no one else in the world more badass than Idris," she said, explaining that actor Idris Elba was the perfect choice to cover the fashion-focused September issue.
"For me, he was really the perfect embodiment of what I think the new Maxim man is. He’s multi-dimensional, he’s complex, he’s sophisticated, but he’s down to earth. It was funny when on set, I was like, 'Is there anything this guy can’t do?' He’s an award-winning actor, he’s a DJ, his capsule clothing line for Superdry is about to hit stores. The guy broke the [British] land speed record which hasn’t been touched since like 1928. He’s sort of a living, breathing superhero," she said.
This is Lanphear's debut September issue, and the former T style director is blowing out the fashion coverage. "It just makes sense to have a man in fashion on the cover," she said. Inside, there's an essay from Rick Owens on getting fit, a style profile with Fetty Wap, an explainer on Hedi Slimane’s rocker models, and an essay from author Gay Talese on being a well-dressed man. There are also fashion fall previews, like a moody trend piece on camel and an accessories story from photographer Karen Collins with bags and briefcases artfully posed along with nude female models.
"We wanted to cover all the aspects we would cover in Maxim as a lifestyle brand but just have a more fashion focus this month," Lanphear said. "In today's world where you can’t escape from the headlines where menswear is outpacing womenswear, so you sort of have no choice, you can’t afford as a man today to not keep up with fashion and style. We had to do the deep dive for September."
Advertisers are responding. According to Maxim, the September issue marks a 143% increase in ad pages from last year, featuring ads from the likes of Prada, Versace, Hugo Boss, Bally, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Calvin Klein.
How will Maxim readers react? Lanphear thinks they're ready for the change. "I think he’s grown up along with the magazine. I’m as focused as I can be on the reader," she said. "Even in the March issue, we had taken a heavier style approach, and what we heard from the reader was just shy of 70% preferred the new look. We felt we could dive even deeper into that and give them even more information for September. "