The Escapist is the latest extension of Tyler Brulé’s Monocle brand, published to fill the summer gap between regular monthly editions of the parent magazine. Arriving in a format familiar to anyone who saw January’s The Forecast, the new magazine is brighter and more relaxed than Monocle itself, the vivid yellow cover setting a very different mood to the black monthly. The cover also has a delightful trompe l’oeil illustration, the text-driven primary design split by the exhaust from a plane creating a folded back reveal of an illustrated scene behind. Escapist indeed.
Inside the new annual magazine is a familiar mix of long, short, and sponsored content, all designed to perfection. It’s easy to knock the magazine and its spin-offs for the way so much of its income appears to be achieved through partnerships rather than traditional advertising, but I think this misses the point. What Brulé has achieved is an extraordinary feat in these times. His magazine (like all great titles Monocle is a creation built in the shape of its founder) has managed the rare achievement of retaining its original, slightly contrarian (i.e., non-focus group tested), retro aesthetic while growing to become an absolute success. And not just locally—Monocle is a rare global success, a single entity distributed in multiple continents, countries, and cities. It has a singular voice that speaks to an international audience.
Recently, I had reason to look back at the launch issue of the magazine, and while I thought it had barely changed over its first five years, I found that first edition very simple and almost bare compared to recent editions. The monthly magazine is now packed with information and detail from its many global sources—almost too packed.
The Escapist offers a more relaxed experience; like Monocle’s recent book collaborations with Gestalten, the design and editorial approach almost suits this format better than the busy monthly. A series of first-person essays (“All About the Journey”) provide the perfect holiday read, a lovely example of content reflecting the reader’s state of mind (above) neatly illustrated by Matt Blease; a series of 10 destination cities are sampled in detail from both cultural and travel perspectives (below), with more space than usual given to photographs.
I expect most Journal readers will already have a clear view of where they stand on Monocle. If you like the parent magazine you’ll love The Escapist; if you’re less keen I’m not sure this new addition to the range will change your mind.
But even if you’re in the latter camp I hope you’ll agree magazine publishing would be very much the poorer if Monocle didn’t exist. All the different aspects—the monthly, the digital radio station Monocle24, these new annuals—add up to a stellar example of what can be achieved in print when you have a super-clear vision; the company is an independent, something emphasized by the typical nod to local magazines and magazine stores wherever possible; and there are too many magazines that loosely appeal to a general audience. Monocle, and now The Escapist, has a very precise reader in mind and has met that target full on.
Give The Escapist a go as you pass through the airport this summer.