“I read it for the articles.”
Haven’t we all really wanted to say that? The odds are that, with your tongue firmly planted in your cheek, you have. You’ve said it, and it was a throw away line. But haven’t we all really wanted to say it and mean it?
Maybe not. Maybe it’s just me and my nostalgia. For I’ve always been an avid reader of print media. Growing up I consumed it to an almost fanatical degree. First it was books, then, as I moved into my 20s, it was a mixture of books and magazines. The trouble was, the magazines seldom sat quite right with me. I’d heard of this Golden Age of Print. Of a time when print media made a real impact and earned real respect. But it was clear that the Golden Age was behind us, and still remains there. Go to your nearest newsstand and you’ll see we’re in an era of “now only $1″ titles. What quality can we really expect for $1? Little. As a generalisation, most magazines now feel like a disposable product churned out to elecit cash from our pockets and give us no more then an hour’s entertainment. Yet there was a time when it was different. A time when you really could pick up Playboy and say “I read it for the articles.” A time when Playboy published and serialised works by Hemingway, Steinbeck and Fleming. A time when it, and other titles aimed at anyone but society’s archaic definition of ‘the housewife’, provoked thought alongside pictures of Marylin Monroe.
A time past, and yet not quite. For while its golden age has long faded, while it never will return to dominance, there are those who seem determined to do print right. Who seem determined to feed everyone’s refound love of print, to create titles that are of a certain quality, titles that create a point of difference. Collection magazine is one. treats! magazine another.
Finally, through Treats, I can say “I read it for the articles.”
And I suspect that that was the intention. For treats magazine (treatsmagazine.com) is part photographic coffee table book and part editorial indulgence. Divided into two distinct sections, the photographic gives the reader their infusion of fashion (the first issue is focussed on spring 2011’s fashions at all levels) while the editorial spurs on the grey cells. But the distinction is simply not one of text and photo, but of approach too. As if admitting to the nostalgia that I assum shaped its creation, Treats’ editorial feels dominated by explorations of our current culture’s formation (issue one includes an interview with Terry O’Neil who photographed everyone from the Beatles to Bardot) and is rounded out with pieces on the people who make an impact now. Inversely, Treats’ photographic core is all thoroughly modern, and not just in the clothing it features but in the way it approaches the clothing it doesn’t feature: Treats has established itself as a title happy to share its interpretation of the fusion of fashion and nudity. An interpretation that knows exactly where this unabashed exploration of the body, of sexuality, of fashion and of life, is going. As the press release they issued about their launch read:
In a recent Fashionising.com article, writer Daniel P. Dykes identifies a trend in fashion that treats! aptly illustrates: “…at the tail end of 2010, that is precisely where the role of nudity within fashion, be it in photo shoots or in advertising, stands: it is evolving. We, the consumers, have evolving tastes. We’re looking to consume fashion with meaning, photo shoots that drive the imagination. And where nudity is involved, that means erotica, sexuality, sensuality and emotion. Less and less are we being engaged by raw nudity simply for the sake of it.”
I admit it, I’ve never had the opportunity to quote a quote that quotes me, so I’m savouring the moment. I’m also savouring the fact that I now needn’t say what I’ve already said. What I should instead say is what I haven’t already clarified: throughout this exploration of Treats I’ve made reference to print’s golden age and to a dominant title from the period, Playboy. This is because in my nostalgic world view the Playboy of old is the title that sits closest to Treats. That mightn’t be at all accurate; it certainly isn’t entirely accurate. This is because Playboy has sold itself as a man’s title. Treats does no such thing. It is instead thoroughly unisex. It acknowledges the fact that erotica is no longer the domain of men, and coupled together with sensuality is just as much an art form for women to indulge in. And it hits that note well, as all bar one of the women I showed the first issue to described its photo shoots as “sexy” (the other made reference to the featured fashion). So untypical is its take on nudity for a print title that I’d go as far as to say that the variety of erotica-as-art-as-fashion that Treats publishes wouldn’t appeal to the average chap on the street. Erotic it may be, but it doesn’t provide the titilation that the ‘average Joe’ is after – it is also too heavily fashion orientated, too obviously high brown to appeal to him. You can see an example photo shoot by clicking the thumbnails.
Treats’ approach to nudity is not its only modern quality. While as a print title (I hesitate to use the term ‘magazine’ as its quality places it closer to a coffee table book) it evokes the feel of the Golden Age of Publishing, Treats is a quarterly publication that is available both in print and in a digital format. I haven’t browsed a digital copy personally, but I’m certain that a quality screen will represent Treats’ pictures well. But I don’t think it can represent them perfectly. Treats needs to be truly enjoyed in print. Its heavy stock needs to rest in your fingers, the sound of each page turn needs to be heard, and the smell that only quality print has needs to linger (and linger it does, the smell of ink seems to reside like the most perfect of scents). Even if the pictures themselves weren’t of the human body as evocative beauty, the quality of Treats’ print would still have a sensuality all of its own.
treats! magazine is available by subscription in print for $US80 annually, and digitally via Zinio for US$34.95. You can see a preview of one of the first issue’s fashion and nudity fusion photo shoots, model Bar by Gavin Bond, by clicking on the thumbnails.