Men's Fashion Magazine Breakdown

Oniikei, Street, High-Fashion Mix, Working Debonair, etc.
28 February 2008
A guide to the main market segmentation for men's fashion magazines
As Part Three of our Japanese fashion magazine market breakdown, this installment will look at magazines for men in Japan. Although the men’s fashion market is relatively smaller than the women’s fashion market in Japan, Japanese men probably remain the most fashion conscious males on the planet. Designers and label heads like Raf Simons or Paul Smith have more recognition amongst the mass population here than anywhere else. So while there may be fewer fashion titles targeted towards men than women, there is still a wide range of magazines that attract not only distinct fashion subcultures but also correspond to age-based lifestyle changes. This guide breaks down the main men’s fashion magazines — and thus, the market — into easy-to-understand categories.

Note on Circulation Figures
: The more objective and accurate circulation figures are those provided by the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC). Those few magazines with ABC-certified numbers are indicated by "(ABC)." Magazines with a (JMPA) after the circulation number indicates a more flattering Japanese Magazine Publishers Association figure. Those starting with "~" are uncertified publisher-provided statistics and not particularly credible.

Figures updated on December 1, 2008.

Age Range: late teens to 30
Race of Models: exclusively Japanese
Authority Figures: senzoku models, "hosts"

The word “O-nii-kei” — meaning “big brother style” — is relatively new, but the fashion look should be seen as the latest incarnation of the “yankii” (yankee) delinquent working class subculture that has existed in Japan since the early 1970s. This particular version of yankii style is closely tied to the Gyaru style that revolutionized teenage girls’ fashion in the late-1990s. The predecessors of O-nii-kei were called Gyaru-o, guys who socialized with the more extreme members of the gyaru and adopted some of their signature looks like darkened skin and near-tribal face makeup. Now the Gyaru-o have grown up and taken the look into a more masculine direction — keeping the dark tans and poofy hair, but adding silver accessories, fur-collared nylon jackets, and ripped jeans to the mix. This has allowed a certain level of crossover with “normal” consumers.

Like the “Oneekei” (meaning “big sister”) style featured in CanCam, the general wardrobe is based on the concept: “cheap elegant.” O-nii-kei, however, takes cheap not just to mean inexpensive, but also “tacky.” O-nii-kei adherents worship (and often, become) the pretty boys in the “host” industry (where women pay an arm and leg to flirt with overly-tanned lotharios). Hosts make a lot of money, but are essentially one step away from being gigolos. The O-nii-kei look, however, sees nothing wrong with having one foot in this demi-monde.

Men’s Egg
was the original bible for Gyaru-o, but has now become one of the central titles for O-nii-kei. The focus is a bit on the street casual side and focuses on younger readers. Men’s Knuckle, on the other hand, is close in tone to Men’s Egg but a bit more “grown-up.” Men’s Knuckle also publishes a special edition solely dedicated to the host industry called Host Knuckle. We should note that both titles are published outside of the main fashion press, and the O-nii-kei style is generally anathema to mainstream standards. That being said, O-nii-kei brands like Buffalo Bobs and Vanquish are selling extremely well in somewhat central places as Shibuya 109-2 and the new Hankyu Men’s. (Also see our original report on O-nii-kei from August 2007.)

Men's Egg 
Men's Egg

    Publisher: Taiyo Tosho
    Average Age: 27
    Range: 20-30
    Circulation: ~300,000

Men's Knuckle
Men's Knuckle

    Publisher: Million Shuppansha
    Average Age: 27
    Range: 20-30s
    Circulation: ~200,000 

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