There comes a time in a man’s life when bare breasts begin to lose
their shine. Big, bouncy, full-colour breasts sported by cheeky, brassy
blondes, badly photographed and splattered across the pages of lads’
mags, that is.
Which is why you’ll find a better class of tit in Later. Beautiful,
black-and-white, Herb Ritts-style tits. And arses. Because even when
they start to grow up, real blokes still like tits and arse.
Later is the new men’s magazine from IPC, designed to fill the gap
between youth’s obsession with naked women, lager and farting and the
onset of middle age when baldies with paunches struggle to rediscover
their youth by reading about naked women, lager and farting.
So Later Man has probably moved out of his blokey shared flat full of
empty beer cans and the smell of takeaway curry and into his own home,
purchased jointly with his girlfriend. Where work used to be a necessary
evil to fuel nights out with the lads, it’s now called his career. These
are the halcyon days between divorce, second marriages, falling off the
top of the career ladder and penile dysfunction. Later but not too
And Later will cater to his tastes with a mix of lifestyles,
relationships and careers, reviews, health and fashion, all delivered
with a lightness of touch, a real irreverence and sense of fun. The tits
and bums may look stylish, but this is no serious style bible.
It is the progeny of Phil Hilton, the magazine’s editor and the guy who
came up with the Later concept for IPC. The unobtrusively ordinary
looking Hilton may seem to fit the ’affluent but still average guy’
label of the typical Later reader and, at 35, he nestles into the 25-40
age bracket for the title. But he’s been editing magazines in London for
too long to pretend he fits the Later stereotype completely. He
frequents the Groucho and Soho House, his mates include Mike Soutar (the
new editor of Maxim US) and Ed Needham (editor in chief of FHM), his
favourite reading matter embraces the New Yorker while he enjoys
listening to thrash metal. Hardly average.
Yet, while Hilton is not editor-as-reader, neither is he
editor-as-gossip-column-fodder. He’s an editor’s editor, not a profile
writer’s wet dream.
Jaded from a 2am stint working on the first issue the night before our
interview, he worries he might be a little, erm, boring. He’s certainly
not the colourful chappie snorting coke from Groucho toilet
’I’m no wild man,’ he murmurs. ’In fact, the joke is that I’m too
I’d rather be liked and respected for what I do and say than for a load
of anecdotes.’ He adds, superfluously, that he lives with his
girlfriend. ’We’re very happy.’
Perhaps his grassroots beginnings in the trade press (Data Link) have
helped anchor him, though even back then the lad from the East London
suburbs was selling rather more exotic features to the nationals and
Time Out. ’I used to be the guy who went out and reviewed chip shops and
learned ballroom dancing.’ Computers just paid the rent.
And while Hilton is generally understated, his juices flow when it comes
to magazines, ’brilliant, colourful, glossy things, like sweets in a
sweet shop. No internet site will ever replace Vogue.’ On the subject of
Later, he froths with enthusiasm.
’I really love the way it looks, I feel so proud of what we’ve already
achieved. I would almost burst into tears if one of my aunties said they
didn’t like the front cover.’ Which is quite something, since the dummy
issue’s black-and-white covergirl, arms nuzzling bare breasts, won’t hit
the spot for every woman.
Yet despite his confidence, Hilton admits that others, including IPC,
have tried to crack the older lads’ market before and failed. Look at
XL, Deluxe, James Brown’s proclamations that he would liven up the older
men’s mag sector. Why is Hilton so confident that this time it will
’Often magazines are full of good ideas, poorly executed - bad photos,
bad writing, bad subbing. They’re let down on the details. We won’t fall
into that trap.’
Yet success will require more than simply quality and
Hilton’s track record on Men’s Health - with circulation up 30 per cent
in the year to June 1998 - suggest that he’s got the editorial nous
And the growing backlash against the traditional lads’ mags and a body
of disenfranchised readers looking for more than simply beer and boobs
But the differences between Later and FHM and Loaded seem slim,
according to those who have seen dummies. The front cover slips sweetly
into a pile of similar naked-babe covers - nothing screams ’new’ and
’different’. But men of all ages are likely to give it at least a second
glance. As Hilton says, preparing for another gruelling photoshoot with
wall-to-wall female flesh: ’If only my school friends could see me
THE HILTON FILE
1988: Data Link, reporter
1990: People Management, staff writer
1994: FHM, deputy features editor
1996: Men’s Health, managing editor, then editor
1999: Later, editor.