While there’s been a recent a boom in niche independent magazine publishing, it appears to be  ‘time gentlemen please’ for the so-called ‘lad mag’. Loaded, which epitomised the 1990s phenomenon, reported a 30.2% year-on-year drop in sales, down to a paltry 34,505. At its height, 20-odd years ago, the title was selling over ten times that amount, at around 450,000 copies a month.

Port or starburst? You decide
The only thing I’m surprised about is that the beer ’n’ boobs formula has stuck around for so long. Loaded’s idea of sexuality is about as subtle as a Neanderthal knocking his mate out with a club and dragging her back to the cave by the vajazzle. It may once have been in tune with the swaggery, track-suit topped zeitgeist, but now it just feels decidedly primitive and predictable. But I’m not here to take the moral high ground. I’ll just be glad to wave goodbye to the appalling design aesthetic of Loaded and its ilk. The over-busy, ill-considered, pack as much in as you possibly can look. It typifies a downmarket pile ’em high, three for two mentality — cheap, nasty, and all about quantity over quality. Too many straplines, too many starbursts, far too many breasts. Over-Loaded more like. At the other end of the men’s magazine spectrum, there’s the two-year-old quarterly Port. Beautifully restrained, impeccably considered, and infinitely more seductive. Which do you prefer? If that’s not a loaded question.

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