FHM is an international monthly lad’s mag. The magazine began publication in 1985 in the United Kingdom under the name For Him and changed its title to FHM in 1994. Founded by Chris Astridge, the magazine was a predominantly fashion-based publication distributed through high street men’s fashion outlets. Circulation expanded to newsagents as a quarterly by the spring of 1987.
After the emergence of James Brown’s Loaded magazine (regarded as the blueprint for the lad’s mag genre) and later competing titles such as GQ and Esquire, For Him firmed up its editorial approach to compete with the expanding market and introduced a sports supplement. It then went monthly and changed its name to FHM. It subsequently expanded internationally. As of January 2007, it published 28 editions per month including editions in Russia, the United States, Norway, Denmark, Romania, Croatia, Australia, Estonia, New Zealand, France, Latvia, Lithuania, Indonesia, Taiwan, Portugal, Malaysia, Mexico, The Netherlands, Venezuela, Thailand, the Philippines, Serbia, South Africa, Spain, Slovenia, Sweden, Singapore, Bulgaria, Greece, Germany and Turkey.
FHM, produced by the consumer media division of publishing giant EMAP, was launched as a response to the success of Loaded, launched by IPC Media the previous year. Like Loaded, FHM arguably relies heavily on the appeal of photographs of scantily-clad women. Unlike many magazines, FHM prints photographs of women already [in]famous for reasons other than their beauty – such as actresses and pop singers. Also, unlike pornographic magazines, genitalia and areolae are hidden by props, lingerie, or hands. Thus, FHM is typically stocked in the lifestyle rather than adult section on newsstands, although Wal-Mart banned lad’s mags in 2003. Lately, the showing of nipples has crept into a few FHM photoshoots – possibly in response to a decline in sales.
The magazine is printed on high quality glossy paper and the photography is of high technical quality. FHM became the best-selling magazine in Britain during the mid to late 1990s, selling 700,000 copies per month. Towards the end of the decade the lads’ culture in which the magazine thrived began to die off and publishers turned to celebrity-oriented titles to boost overall sales. Heat overtook FHM as the UK’s biggest selling magazine.
As well as the photo shoots, the magazine contains articles on a wide variety of topics, including profiles of sports stars, movie, music, gadget and book reviews, gossip, men’s fashion shoots, the “bar scene” in a variety of locations, guy tales of sex, and extensive discussion of sexual techniques.
In December 2006 it was announced that FHM will be discontinuing its United States’ print edition after the March ’07 issue, turning to an all digital format with the launch of FHM Online.