Narin Palanuraksa's office is rather empty, just a table with a computer. Not many possessions are on the shelf but there are a variety of magazines hailing from all over the world. It's obvious to visitors that he has only moved in recently.
Youthful looking and elegantly clean-cut, Narin is the freshly appointed editor-in-chief of Elle Men, a new men's fashion and lifestyle publication under the roof of Post International Media Co Ltd. With the long-established Elle Thailand as the country's premier women's magazine, Elle Men is set to catch the attention of people in the fashion and publishing industries, especially with the new editor-in-chief fronting its launch today.
"I was doing my PhD in architecture in Singapore when I was introduced to an executive of Post Intermedia, and to the exciting project of Elle Men," said Narin, 33. "So it all started back last June."
His profile is as stellar as his appearance. Narin graduated with a bachelor's from Cornell University, followed by a master's from Harvard University. His life before his new post at the magazine, he said, was all about architecture.
After graduating from Cornell, Narin returned to Thailand and practiced as an architect for a year, then returned to the United States for his master's. Returning from Harvard, the director of Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Architecture asked Narin if he wanted to teach the new international programme. He had taught at Chula for four years when he got a scholarship to do a PhD in Singapore _ and Narin took it. Teaching undergrads at the National University of Singapore while working on his doctoral thesis had been pretty much his life before he made a jump into the world of magazines.
What a surprising turn.
"I was there for about a year when I began to realise that being in academia full time was not something I found particularly fulfilling or thrilling. That's when I started looking for opportunities around the region, not only in Bangkok. Then the opportunity with Elle Men came through," he said.
After several interviews and assignments by the publication's managerial team, Narin was handed the job, moved into his office, and set out to become the driving force in the new enterprise. How did he beat the other candidates?
''I was just myself,'' said Narin. ''All along, I've never considered myself as the most capable or the best in anything. I just take every day as it comes but I do try my best in everything I do. I push myself to the limit and I guess that came through.
Elle Men Thailand ‘Zero Issue’
''Also, I have always had a passion for the publishing business. As an architect, I collect books. I love rare books and books that give me an insight into subcultures or certain theories. I also read a lot of magazines and I'm familiar with what's going on. I have been reading some titles for over 10 years now. I think they reflect who I am and that's what I want Elle Men to be _ to be able to reflect what Thai men are.''
The past few years have seen a growing number of magazines based on men's interests, not only in Thailand but also globally. While most people are aware of the international brand Elle, especially its women's fashion and lifestyle magazine, Elle Men seems to be an unfamiliar product under this umbrella. Narin offered some background of his magazine.
''People tend to regard Elle Men as a supplement of the women's title. Around the world, we have seen Elle Men as a twice-yearly supplement to Elle. These supplements actually cater to female readers,'' he said.
''Even though the title is Elle Men, it was designed for women to influence their male companions.
''Essentially it was for women to browse and learn about products and make purchases for men. The Chinese saw this phenomenon of men's increasing purchasing power in the market and decided to buy the publishing rights to Elle Men and put it out as a monthly magazine in 2010. So China is the first country to establish Elle Men as a monthly that caters to men.''
Since its launch three years ago, the magazine has claimed the biggest market share among similar publications in three major Chinese cities _ Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. Hong Kong launched its own version last September and Thailand is now the third country.
The ''Zero Issue'' is being launched today, but the real first issue will hit the shelves in November.
New magazines have appeared almost every year recently, especially in the men's market. However, Narin sees it as a promising phenomenon rather than as competition.
''I think it's great that there are more options for readers in the market. It is a very exciting time for publications in Thailand,'' he said. ''New magazines are popping up almost every month, reflecting the fact that people are changing their behaviour in terms of consuming information and media. All these magazines can offer different points of view or different advice to Thai men. That means there must be more demand for information from Thai men. I think the team behind Elle Men saw that phenomenon and realised that now is the right time to launch it on the market.''
But as a newcomer in the industry, what makes Elle Men stand out?
''Our motto is Elle Men is your life's decoder,'' said Narin.
''What makes us stand out is the fact that we don't only deliver the information but we process the information for you. We only select the most interesting stories, we edit the stories to the substance of each story and we deliver the substance to you.
''We understand people today don't like to read long text on a page. We save them time but give them the best.''
Subscribers of Bangkok Post and Post Today get a complimentary Elle Men Thailand 'Zero Issue' today.
Also available upon request at selected outlets of B2S and Se-Ed bookstores.