Luxury Magazine and the Strange Phenomenon of Magazines for the idle Rich (essay
December 9, 2011
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One of the most fascinating trends these days in Korea -which is paralleled in China and around the world- is the emergence of glossy magazines aimed at the super rich, or perhaps the want-to-be super rich, that are found in hotels, airports, coffee shops and boutiques. I selected the magazine Luxury, but I could have presented any number of this form of magazine. These magazines feature advertisements for expensive watches, clothes and other items completely out of the range of most people.
Recently we find these magazines in hotels, cafes and airports, read by Koreans who cannot possibly afford what is advertised. I would go as far as to say that such journals are crowding out other forms of communication. For example, I recently asked at the Shilla Hotel for Sin Dong-a, a major journal and was told that is it not sold at their bookstore. I was astonished. But at the same time, these magazines are found everywhere in hotels.
For the most part, these magazines describe a timeless and unchanging world of fashionable good living with no analysis or consideration of historical and economic trends. I can imagine that if you read them for some time, you would have trouble making sense of the world.
I am not sure how to read this phenomenon. In a recent conversation with John Feffer, he suggested to me that perhaps the profit to be made off of targeting one of the super rich is now so great that such luxury products displace standard products. He may be right. If you go to an airport, you will find that the barber shops, coffee shops, bookstores and t-shirt outlets have been replaced by stores for extremely expensive clothes, watches and cosmetics which are basically empty. A young women sits there all day long in one of these stores, alone for most of the time. But it could well be that the profit from one or two sales is sufficient to surpass what can be made from selling hundreds of newspapers, cups of coffee, t-shirts and small souvenirs.
Luxury Magazine, November 2011 EditionTravel section of Luxury MagazineLuxury watches in Luxury Magazine