“Lady Diana & her lesser known Pakistani love affair”—that’s the September issue cover story of a new Canadian lifestyle magazine to hit the stands, SHE Canada.
One of the most widely read English monthly publications in Pakistan, SHE Magazine has launched its first international edition here in Toronto. But associate editor Priya Kumar explains that the magazine appeals to all South Asians—not just Pakistanis. “Our ideal subscriber would be of South Asian origin, perhaps second generation,” she says. “I kind of see myself as the ideal reader, because while I am still connected to my origins I have a certain North American taste in fashion.”
The magazine has a standard tabloid-like structure, with fashion features, editorials and shoots toward the front of the book, and local stories and reviews at the end. Alongside coverage of the June 2012 polo match between the Jaipur Royal Polo Team and the Toronto Polo Club is feature story about Jaipur Princess Diya Kumari, who had been visiting Toronto to support her son’s team. In addition to being a grade 9 student at an exclusive prep school in India, her son, Rajkumar Padmanabh Singh, is the Maharaja of Jaipur, who ascended the throne last year at the age of 13. Later pages include a book review of The Taliban Cricket Club, a fiction novel written by former Kingston Whig Standard journalist. Fashion by Kashmir-born Toronto textile designer Anu Raina, who studied silk screening and digital printing at Sheridan College, is featured across six pages, and Toronto restaurant, The Sultan’s Tent gets a mention, as does REmix Clothing, one of the city’s niche vintage boutiques. On top of the latest style trends, the book has a page dedicated to stylish sneakers, including Isabel Marant—now a household name in shoe fashion, and even showcases designer activewear for Canada’s city dwellers on the go.
But flipping through the magazine, it’s clear that it’s not your run of the mill Western glossy. There are no Cover Girl advertisements with faces of America’s Next Top Models or Taylor Swift. Instead, a L’Oreal ad features Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor, and Deepika Padukone graces a page as a Tissot watches ambassador. Indian beauties often appear in magazines like Asian Bride, Suhaag and Kismet, but what sets SHE Canada apart from the rest is the fact that it isn’t geared towards weddings. South Asian magazines in Canada tend to focus on bridal wear, their pages overflowing with wedding venues, henna designs and heavy jewelry sets. Coverlines discuss ideas for bachelorette parties and floral themed wedding décor. “We don’t see ourselves in the same category as them at all,” says Kumar.
The cover of the October issue features model Shaifali, who is a former Ryerson student. “The thing that I like most about SHE Canada is that they understand their target market.,” she says. “As an ‘Indo-Canadian’ (an Indian born in Canada) I’ve noticed that there are a ton of Toronto based Indian magazines geared towards the modern South Asian woman. However, those magazines fail to see that we are exactly that—modern South Asian women, who don’t wear Indian bridal outfits every day of our lives.”
Shaifali explains that though a lot of her non-South Asian friends were initially drawn to the magazine to support her, they ended up buying it because of the content. “I think SHE readers can really appreciate the ‘Toronto-ness’ of the magazine, and that aside from producing quality fashion editorials, it also focuses on political issues and trending topics,” she says.
The October issue hits on one of pop culture’s most happening hot topics: UK-based boy band, One Direction. An article features one of the members, teen heartthrob Zayn Malik, whose father is Pakistani, and touches on the subject of being a “mixed heritage kid”—a story that will appeal to thousands of young South Asians living in the West.
SHE‘s November cover girl is popular American Pakistani trance singer Nadia Ali. “She is the coolest girlfriend you could ever meet,” says Kumar. “We put her in Toronto-based designer Kara Chung, a lot of Alice and Olivia, and Louboutin. Every pair of shoes was Loubs.” The magazine blends the East and West, highlighting high fashion with an opulent South Asian flair. The October issue quotes Chanel’s creative director, Karl Lagerfeld: “Even the poor have dignity [in South Asia]. Even the poor own three gold bracelets.”
South Asians are the largest visible minority group in Canada, and their influence has become increasingly apparent in the clothing industry. Chanel’s Pre-Fall 2012 fashion show last year was inspired by India, and the Spring 2013 Marchesa collection shown at New York Fashion Week this past September was a clear ode to South Asian silhouettes and styles. At a time when elements of Eastern fashion are becoming more trendy in the West, SHE Canada appeals not only to Indians, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans, but is packaged to attract Canadian readers of all ethnicities.
The December issue of SHE Canada comes out next week, and can be purchased for $4.99 at Gateway Newsstands across the GTA, located primarily in TTC stations. Readers also subscribe to the magazine on its website, www.shecanada.ca. The team interacts with readers on the magazine’s Facebook page, SHE Canada, and on Twitter @SHECanada.