Code debuts as a GQ for black men

Magazine: New publication presents fashion and more for the neglected market of stylish men of color.

July 08, 1999|By Booth Moore | Booth Moore,LOS ANGELES TIMES

There's a new men's magazine on the stands this month from Flynt Publications.

No, not that kind of magazine.

The premiere, 128-page issue of Code, with actor Samuel L. Jackson on the cover, offers fashion pages, literary fiction, essays and political commentary for men of color.

Code's goal is to present a multifaceted image of black men. "Until now, there haven't been any images in the media that reflect black males to themselves," says Abbie Britton, Code's publications director.

"In the world, not in the media, black men are multifaceted human beings, bankers who listen to hip-hop and -homeboys who listen to Mozart."

A veteran of Conde Nast and Hearst, Britton helped launch Mirabella, American Marie Claire and Mode magazines.

She was approached by Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Flynt Publications to produce a GQ for black men.

"People come to me all the time and ask me how I can do this as a white woman," she says.

"I tell them this magazine is not about me. I know how to put a staff together that can make it happen. One of the most successful magazines in history was Good Housekeeping, and it was run by an old guy named John Mack Carter. What did he know about Tampax?"

Britton set out to create a style magazine for black men, although coverage may expand to include Latinos and Asian Americans.

"The potential was enormous for a style magazine of this kind because we know from research black men are the least ambivalent consumers of designer labels." Fashion Editor Timothy Snell agrees. "Black men shop. They love to look good and to spend money on clothing, and we are the style bible for them."

The premiere issue includes an article on 14 black men, ranging from attorney Johnnie Cochran to NBA player Greg Anthony, commenting on style, fashion features about beret maker Kangol and Los Angeles designer Jesse Allen, as well as new work by rising literary star Saul Williams ("Slam") and a profile of poet Quincy Troupe, the magazine's editorial director.

Britton says Flynt will contribute $500,000 to each issue of Code so the editorial department can hire top writers, photographers and stylists.

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