updated 2 Dec 2010, 16:57
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Thu, Dec 02, 2010
Urban, The Straits Times
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by Ian Lee

Beyond the outlandish fashion spreads, cutting-edge labels and Harajuku style references, Japanese magazines often dangle another carrot - attractive premiums from designer labels.

Since last October, at least three titles have come with Marc Jacobs premiums. The October issue of In Red offered a Marc Jacobs purse to promote its Daisy fragrance, Sweet's issue last month had a small canvas Marc by Marc Jacobs tote bag and Spring's edition this month gave away a Marc Jacobs pouch to tie in with the launch of the brand's Lola perfume.

All three have sold out at Kinokuniya, the latter two within a month of hitting the bookstore.

Kinokuniya, the only major bookstore here to sell such magazines, declined to comment but it is believed that most of the buyers are Singaporeans who do not read or understand Japanese.

The latest lust-worthy title, released here two weeks ago, is the March issue of Japanese teen magazine Steady. It came with a small Agnes b. canvas tote bearing the brand's latest heart print.

A Marc by Marc Jacobs spring/summer 'mook' (Japanese lingo for magazine book) by Japanese mook publisher E-mook, is expected to hit Kinokuniya's shelves within the next month. It will come with a vanity mirror, printed towel and matching canvas pouch made by the brand.


For the uninitiated, Japanese titles, which cost $15 to $30 each, usually hit the shelves two weeks before the month of issue. For instance, March issues are now on sale.

Some may argue that the designs of the premiums are basic and their quality does not match that of goods sold in the labels' stores.

But most are still happy to pick up these branded goodies.

In an e-mail interview, Junsuke Yamasaki, fashion editor of the Japanese edition of edgy British fashion magazine Dazed And Confused, tells Urban that while Japanese street fashion or teen magazines such as Smart, In Red and Sweet usually come with giveaways such as small canvas bags or cosmetic pouches, high-fashion titles such as Vogue Nippon, Spur and Numero Tokyo offer premiums at most twice a year.

'It's a completely different strategy. Teen magazines offer value with every issue, often collaborating with emerging Japanese brands such as Crystal Ball and Zucca, while luxe magazines wouldn't want to cheapen their image by doing regular giveaways,' says the 27-year-old.

'Instead, they look for special occasions such as anniversaries to tie in with big brands.'

The goodies offered by luxe magazine are worth the wait.

For instance, Dazed And Confused Japan has done two photo books with designer Hedi Slimane of Dior Homme fame, a T-shirt with Australian cult label Ksubi, as well as pin badges with Belgian designer Raf Simons.

Yamasaki cites Vogue Nippon's anniversary tote bag with Comme des Garcons for December 2009, Numero Tokyo's camouflage print Louis Vuitton mouse pad for October 2008 and a vinyl Gucci monogram envelope case for its November 2009 issue as three notable luxe label premiums.

So even though marketing manager Joy Lee, 29, does not read Japanese, she has been buying at least two Japanese magazines a month for the past seven years.

The titles she buys include Vogue Nippon, Numero Tokyo and interior design magazine Casa Brutus.

While Yamasaki concedes that these giveaways are 'a business trick' and do not boast the same quality as that of items sold in a store, he says there is a 'three-way advantage'.

'The magazine can sell double the number of copies, the designer brand gets to promote its new products and the readers can get branded items at a relatively low price.'

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This article was first published in Urban, The Straits Times.

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