When I learned that there was a new magazine for men I knew I had to pick up it up and do a review. Vault magazine is the latest publication from ABS-CBN Publishing, Inc. led by David Celdran of the ANC show Executive Class. The Philippines is sorely lacking a good men’s magazine and I was hoping that Vault magazine would fill that gap.

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Comparing the size of Vault, Monocle and The Rake

Form Factor, Typography and Paper
Vault magazine is relatively small compared to other magazines in the market. It is even smaller than Monocle which I consider to be the perfect magazine size. It measures 15.5 cm wide, 23 cm long and ~1 cm deep. Its corners are rounded and will easily fit in small bags.

While handy, I feel that the magazine is severely restricted by its chosen form factor. You can’t have large, detailed images and there isn’t a lot of room to play around with. They used a serif font with wide kerning for body text. I find this somewhat annoying because serif font is easier read when the letters are closer to each other.

The paper they used is thick and matte just like the one used by Monocle.

Substance or Lack Thereof
The magazine’s first few pages delve into what’s new here and abroad. It talks about newly opened establishments and the best things to have. It seems like a nice opener but is lacking in depth.

The first article of the magazine is on the watches of Baselworld 2011 which I found wanting. It was very short and went right to the watches themselves. Yes, the watches should really be the focus but then I want to read more about Baselworld before we talk about the watches.

When I reached page 36 & 37 about Hublot timepieces I knew instantly their inspiration was Monocle – two pages full of numerous small photos with numbers beneath them and an area describing each photo by number on a white backdrop. And it’s not the only element from Monocle you will be seeing throughout the magazine

Another article featured on the front is ’30+ cars you’ve always wanted’. This article seemed like a filler. It’s filled with photos of cars, their specifications and what it’s got or not. The average Filipino man considers a car a status symbol but numerous pages should not be devoted to it. What redeemed this part of the magazine was an article on the 60 years of Mercedes-Benz in the Philippines. History always makes for good reading.

I reached their article on bespoke suits eager to see what they’ve written about it. I expected to see someone actually commissioning a suit from a well known tailor in either London, Naples, Milan or Hong Kong and describing the process in detail. I was very disappointed to find that they wrote about bespoke suits made by a local tailor. I want to read about true, handmade bespoke suits because most people are already familiar with what’s locally available.

The rest of the magazine talks about fragrances, audio (vinyl records and equipment), food (steaks and wine), art, people and traveling. It’s all very run-of-the-mill and tries to cover every possible topic a man would find interesting. However, it generally lacks depth and a kind of story telling I find in other magazines.

 

Areas of Improvement
I find that many areas of the magazine need improvement. First of all it needs a distinct identity and unique branding. They should avoid using Monocle-inspired layouts, graphics, photography and to some extent the typography. I’m sure the creative people behind the magazine could think of something else.

A magazine that has the word luxury written all over it needs to have the right advertising. Brands like Marks & Spencer, Oakley and Pedro (Shoes) should not be there. I suggest replacing them with Paul Smith, Tom Ford and Bally.

Menswear is not limited to suits. There is so much more such as dressed-up casual clothing, footwear, bags and accessories. They could feature brands most men in the Philippines are not aware of. Putting together outfits and placing men in their natural habitats would instantly get two thumbs up from me.

I’d like to read about men as this is a magazine for men. Manuel L. Quezon (talked about briefly in their article on bespoke suits) would have been an interesting read, sartorially speaking. When, where and how he used his white suits can fill numerous pages. That would certainly make an enjoyable read.

I don’t think it’s worth paying 180 pesos for such a magazine. I’d probably pay somewhere between 100 and 120 pesos. I had high expectations for this magazine and they weren’t met. I hope the next issue is much better.

Vault magazine is available at Fully Booked.