Pleasure In, Snobbery Out
As shoppers hit the stores for this year's holiday rush, the "wish books" many are consulting come not from Sears or Neiman Marcus but from Condé Nast and Hearst. They're poring over "shopping magazines," the publishing category established by Lucky and joined this year by its male-oriented spinoff, Cargo, and its new competitor, Shop Etc.
Shopping magazines don't dilute their celebration of shoes, gadgets, sweaters, handbags and makeup with articles on politics, celebrities or art. That makes it easy to sneer at them. Critics call these publications "magalogs," charging that they're little more than catalogs. Lucky doesn't even have real articles, grouse prestige journalists, just glorified captions. Even Kim France, Lucky's editor in chief, acknowledges that the magazine's photography is "very literal," with none of the artistic ambition of Fashion photography with a capital F.
For all their blatant materialism, however, Lucky and its kin actually represent cultural progress. Their unabashed presentation of goods as material pleasures keeps materialism in its place. They don't encourage readers to equate fashion with virtue or style with superiority. They're sharing fun, not rationing status.
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