The story of XLQ, THE fashion magazine for the Larger Man
|"XLQ", THE fashion mag for the larger man.
Bernie Hughes was looking for a new outlet for his creative energies.
As owner of "Big Adventure", the most successful Big and Tall clothing chain in the USA, Bernie has achieved much more than he had imagined on that day ten years ago, when he set about turning his designs and ideas for cooler clothes for bigger guys into reality. Big Adventure turned into more than just a clothing chain; it has become a positive force in the struggle for 'fat acceptance' in America.
Big Adventure's unique, provocative, sexy, and appealing advertising has helped turn bigger and fatter men into sex symbols across the USA ... and beyond. Taglines like "Once you'd had fat, you'll never go back," are now turning up in memes, movies, songs, ... and women's desires. One measure of Big Adventure's success is that it has been blamed, by name, by the US Surgeon General for encouraging the expanding waistlines of American teen boys and young men, influencing women to desire such bigger men, and thus contributing to the 'obesity epidemic'. To which Bernie ripostes, "Cool! If you look at the 20th century, Americans have been doing two things: living longer, and getting fatter. I believe these two are linked."
Tracing the origins of this success needs some reference to the poise, presence, and clean-cut sex appeal of Bernie's first super-sized male model, Roger Craig, whose massively attractive good looks and charismatic personality contributed heavily to helping Big Adventure grow out of the "niche retailer" zone, and to putting clothes for the bigger male squarely into the mainstream of the American fashion business.
Of course, Roger's own tale of change and growth is quite intriguing. Initially, Roger's growth was a private affair - he was growing out of personal interest, though with the avid support of his wife, Cindy. However, it was Cindy who encouraged her rapidly enlarging husband to try out for an advertised modelling position with Big Adventure, where she had been buying so many of his clothes. Roger dissembled at first, but eventually Cindy convinced him to go to the audition. She was convinced he was a natural - and so, it turned out, was Bernie.
In fact, Bernie thought Roger had such an abundance of natural talent for modelling Big Man's clothes, that he laid only Roger when hired - but it was a very important one. Roger had to grow more, because he wasn't big enough!
With Cindy's enthusiastic help, Roger immediately set about 'improving' his weight to the 800 pound level that Bernie had been searching for in his new promotional spokesman. Roger's new role as Bernie's massive male supermodel required him to wear anything and everything in Big Adventure's upscale line of eye-catching, super stylish, yet rugged and challenging clothes for the sporty bigger man, the "Biggest Adventure" line.
Bernie consistently chose to feature Roger wearing the brightest colours and boldest patterns in Biggest Adventure's line in his advertising - ostensibly to show other fat guys that they didn't need to hide their gorgeous, lovable bulk under dark colours and baggy clothes. Of course, as with Roger, in reality it's the girlfriends and wives who Bernie is marketing to, as they're the ones who buy clothes for their big boys.
So, for Roger's time in front of the camera, only the best of "Biggest Adventure" clothes would do:
- brilliant jewel tone tees and sport shirts in body-skimming cuts
- pants and shorts in spandex-enhanced stretch fabrics that ride closely over massive guts and thighs
- heavy cotton rugby shirts in richly toned horizontal striping or colour blocking
- and body-hugging athletic spandex shorts and jerseys in rich or dayglo colours.
Big Adventure scored its attention-getting initial successes with clothing lines aimed at America's hot fat young guys - beefy football players, massive powerlifters, heavyweight wrestlers, amateur sumos, potbellied ex-college jocks, and radical gainers - and more importantly with the growing numbers of fat teens and even fatter twenty-somethings who wanted to look like their beefy football heroes or the leading sumo wrestlers. These fat poseur types, and their girlfriends, flocked to Big Adventure's most radical lines.
Bernie soon backed up his choice of Roger as top model by hiring a stable of young SSBHM supermodels, including Coleman, a young cousin of Cindy, who at just 15 years old was already an awe-inspiring 450 lbs, and who Cindy had noticed was copying the more radical of the fashions his uncle Roger modelled. With Coleman on board, flaunting his youth and phenomenal size in ads for Big Adventure's new "Teen Hero" line for ample teenage boys, Bernie saw total sales shoot upwards. This business growth enormously increased the value of the Big Adventure stock options Bernie had given Roger.
Then, Bernie decided to further reinforce the success of Big Adventure by filling another unfilled need, a men's fashion magazine featuring the larger styles and fashions that were making Big Adventure famous, by launching XLQ, XtraLarge Quarterly, "THE fashion mag for the larger man".
Initially, XLQ was a house organ, intended to be given away to regular customers - a beautifully laid out dream catalog/promotion piece, but with a few additional articles, columnists, and op-ed pieces to round it out. The first issue came out with a front cover featuring Roger in "Indiana Jones" style, boots, sturdy cargo shorts, open-necked rugged canvas shirt, fedora and binoculars, while the back cover featured Coleman, in searing neon yellow striped spandex muscle top and electric blue shorts, body and gut seemingly suspended in the air, lunging to spike a volleyball.
Nearly as soon as the first issue appeared, however, requests began to come in for subscriptions. Many came from women wanting subscriptions for their bigger husbands/boyfriends/sons, and requests also arrived from gay men wanting subscriptions for their BHM partners. While Bernie had expected his catalog to be popular, this demand for subscriptions caught him unawares. He sat down with his publishing crew to see if they were prepared to greatly expand their publishing goals, by moving beyond being a house organ. Of course, they were, and XLQ is now bi-monthly - and growing.
XLQ has its detractors, of course, who refer to it as FQ - Fatso Quarterly. But, frankly, who cares what Richard Simmons, Paris Hilton or the US Surgeon-General think? Certainly not the women and men who read XLQ! Its mix of fashion-forward pieces, fat-positivism, sports reporting (on sports for the larger male), news items on bigger guys and even male-focused recipes gives it a unique flair. Advertisers have been flocking to it.
Caution: this item is a work in progress