These days, the sad reality is that print magazines are dropping like flies. I for one appreciate the tactile sense of seeing words and photos beautifully laid out on printed paper. I also appreciate the irony of me saying that through my blog via your computer monitor. The good news is, while print is retracting it certainly is not dead. And with the recent launch of the men’s magazine The Rake, there is actually reason to be excited. I got an opportunity not long ago to pose a few questions to The Rake editor Mr. Christian Barker about what exactly makes The Rake tick. Our Q&A after the jump.
ACL: If you didn’t know it, one would think The Rake was published out of London, or maybe even Tokyo. So it begs the question, why Singapore?
Christian Barker: It’s great you should say that, as our goal was really to create a truly international magazine – something with origins you couldn’t readily pinpoint. Aside from Singapore being an apt base, in that it’s something of a crossroads between East and West, the simple answer is that our publisher, Revolution Press, is based here. But we see our reader as being a global citizen, and while presently the magazine is only retailed in Hong Kong and Singapore, our aim has always been for The Rake to expand internationally within a short span of time; those plans are moving forward pretty rapidly.
ACL: When did The Rake launch?
CB: December last year.
ACL:Where does the name come from?
CB: The initial inspiration was Gianni Agnelli, who was known – among other things – as “The Rake of the Riviera.” Obviously, we’re huge fans of Agnelli’s sartorial approach, which we try to echo in our advocacy of individual style, knowing the rules and when to break them, and taking real pleasure in exploring classic menswear’s possibilities. Agnelli had nothing to prove, he didn’t “dress to impress” – he dressed beautifully because it’s a joy to do so. That’s an attitude we emulate. Plus, Agnelli’s a good example of the type of man we imagine The Rake’s reader is, or aspires to be: well-travelled, tasteful, experienced, virile, successful, cosmopolitan, confident; someone who appreciates and seeks out beauty, is a bon vivant, but is astute in the way he spends his money, always looking for real and lasting value, legitimacy, a return on the investment. So, Agnelli was the primary inspiration, but then a term like ‘The Rake’ also evokes the likes of Cary Grant or George Clooney, stylish guys who only improved with age; sophisticated, charming, clever, irreverent men. Rakish, really.
ACL: One thing I like about the magazine is the emphasis on make, on the process of crafting luxury goods. How did that come about? Is that something you all are inherently interested in?
CB: Definitely. I think most men are interested in that additional dimension – we like to look ‘under the hood’. Going behind the scenes is vital to explaining the quantitative and qualitative value of the things we feature. Why is this a superior product? What makes this company different to its competitors? How are the raw materials different? What’s the heritage, the history, the design aspect? What’re the craftsmen’s unique skills? How much time goes into making this thing? How long will it last? ‘Behind the scenes’ is actually a great analogy – where so much fashion is pure theatre, The Rake is all about pulling back the curtain.
ACL: There is a lot of service in the book, but done in a certain way as to feel very inclusive. Is it hard to combine the two things, luxury and service without seeming preachy?
CB: [I take it by service you mean the educational aspect?] Honestly, delving into the minutiae of artisanal craftsmanship has been a huge learning curve for us too, so it’s easy to steer clear of appearing holier-than-thou when we approach the instructional side of things. We have a lot of fun learning about this stuff, and hopefully, that exuberance comes through when we subsequently impart the knowledge we’ve picked up.
ACL: How is The Rake different than other men’s magazines out there?
CB: Men’s style is our main focus, but unlike the myriad ‘edgy’ men’s fashion mags – y’know, the sort filled with dimly-lit images of skinny 15-year-old boys sporting scanty, bizarrely styled outfits that, if worn on the street, would draw incredulous stares and peals of laughter – The Rake’s approach to menswear is very classic and wearable, while remaining creative, vibrant and adventurous. Our focus is style, not fashion; the timeless, not the trendy. The Rake is also a lot more instructional and detail-focused than the more general men’s style titles. For example, we won’t give you one page on how a suit should fit – we’ll run 16 pages on how your suit jacket should fit, with sections on what will flatter different body types. We’ll follow that up with equally comprehensive stories on the other elements of suiting. As for men’s luxury magazines, most will only tell you that something is “the best money can buy.” The Rake will tell you WHY it’s the best. We won’t talk about things in terms of their expense, we’ll talk about their VALUE. It’s an important distinction.
ACL: You sent me the past two issues (thank you), but how does one get the magazine if they live internationally, say in the United States?
CB: Our website, www.therakeonline.com, just went live – via the relevant link there, subscription is now available anywhere in the world.
ACL: Anything exciting coming up that ACL readers should know about?
CB: Our forthcoming fourth issue focuses on British elegance, and as you’d imagine this entails coverage of some amazing brands and individuals. Subsequent issues will look at the unique style of Italy and the US – no doubt the latter will contain plenty to pique the interest of ACL readers.
ACL: I haven’t been this excited about a new magazine since Monocle came out, but Monocle tends to snub New York. How does The Rake feel about the city that never sleeps?
CB: We heart NY. What’s not to love?
Below are selected pages from The Rake’s Anderson & Sheppard story. The complete feature is here. (PDF) Also, check out a stylish look at the original Thomas Crown Affair (PDF) starring Steve McQueen and a fantastic piece on Charvet. (PDF)