Canadian Magazine Industry News
9 August 2013,     TORONTO
Flare freshens up for September issue
Flare is premiering changes in content and art direction with its 240-page September issue. The redesign is a year in the making, and kickstarts plans for the brand's 35th anniversary in 2014.

The magazine, Rogers Media's flagship fashion title, is fleshing out its style focus with an approach that sees fashion as not just a topic but a lifestyle lens. "We've added things that speak more to the culture of fashion," said publisher Melissa Ahlstrand, who started at the mag last July. Readers can expect decor, travel and food content, more profiles of film directors, photographers and the like, as well as Canada-specific bits in the new front-of-book section, The Localist.

Amber Heard covers the September issue of Flare
Amber Heard covers the September issue of Flare

The new scope reflects not so much a change in targeted readership, but a reflection of her (fashion-forward women aged 18-40) wider interests, as well as popular culture's morphing approach to style. "[Our reader] loves fashion and beauty, but she's also into the mix," Ahlstrand said. "She's into vintage and new. She looks at the trends but she also interprets them. Consumers are actually influencing trends more than they used to. You can be a foodie, or a musician, or an artist, have a beautiful apartment, and all of that speaks to your style."

The visual makeover, spearheaded by design director Michèle Champagne, features new photographers, a custom font, and different page treatments to likewise blend the posh and pop. There is more colour, and also more calligraphy. "We want it to all be very neat, very readable, lots of flow," said Ahlstrand. "We wanted it to be a little warmer, a little more friendly and social."

Flare's redesign features new photographers, typography and colour palette
Flare's redesign features new photographers, typography and colour palette

The redesign reaches all of Flare's delivery platforms, including website, social media, and replica and custom apps, and will fully unfold over the coming months. Among the brand's new content will be a men's fashion blog written by recently appointed digital editor Andrew Lovesey. (Which Ahlstrand said is not a practice run for a new men's title. "I'm a woman, and I'm interested in hearing a point of view on men's fashion," she said). A new app for hair and makeup tips, called Flare Essentials, will launch in the fall.

Ahlstrand said the mandate is to continue aligning properties and platforms. "I've been at Rogers for 10 years, and we're more integrated than ever before within our brands, and also within the company." Flare has teamed with Rogers' City network in the past, and Ahlstrand mentions more of the same is a possibility in the future. Perhaps the way forward has already been charted by fellow Rogers title Chatelaine, which has been pushing strongly across numerous platforms of late.

"Not far down the road, Flare truly will be a brand that lives in all different places rather than just being a magazine brand. It's getting more and more like that, and I think in a very short time it will be even closer to that," said Ahlstrand.

— Jef Catapang
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