An independent archive of typography.

Esquire and Condé Nast Traveler

Graphik plays a lead role in two very different mag redesigns.

Contributed by André Mora on Mar 3rd, 2011. Artwork published in .

The new Esquire featuring their custom typeface, Granger.

The new Condé Nast Traveler featuring Leitura Display.

Some magazines stick to strict templates and the same typefaces for years, but most are in flux. For them, new typefaces are introduced for feature stories, weights and sizes are toyed with in departments each month, and, most notably, custom typefaces are commissioned for updates or full redesigns. In addition, major publications like GQ are constantly championing new releases — in an age where few specimens are printed, magazines are some of the best places to turn to for new fonts in use.

Two major magazines have gone through recent redesigns — both choosing the same sans serif but completing their overhaul with very different serifs. Esquire and Condé Nast Traveler have both cleaned house with Graphik from Commercial Type. Inspired by the appealing geometry of 20th century modernism, this face has been used in other magazines but it still signals a fresh start for both publications.

Graphik and Mercury Text for Esquire

Graphik and Granger for Esquire.

To accompany Graphik, Esquire went to Commercial Type again, this time commissioning a new display serif called Granger, named after their long-time editor in chief. Similar in manner to Melior, Ibis, and RePublic, Granger is proud and masculine, typically set in all caps (so far). For primary body copy, the magazine sticks with Mercury Text. It’s worth recalling that H&FJ originally developed Mercury as a display font for Esquire. Perhaps Granger will expand into an entire family someday.

Graphik for Condé Nast Traveler.

Traveler chose an existing, relatively new typeface well-suited for editorial design: DSType’s Leitura. It’s a stylish serif that looks as elegant in text as it does in display. Unabashedly feminine, its italics dance in small captions and headlines throughout the magazine. Leitura Display’s swashes, recurrently applied, look like they’ve caught a coastal breeze. It’s a playful kind of luxury.

Their tagline is “Truth in Travel” and Graphik fulfills the first part — restrained, matter-of-fact treatments for department headers and confident features with titles like “27 Reasons To Love L.A. Now”. Leitura fulfills the second part — lush, aspirational waltzes through Vienna or a “A High Wind in Jamaica”.

In Esquire though, Graphik plays more of an Everyman. It’s tiny, it’s huge. It’s italicized and underlined. It’s even combined (and sometimes at odds) with Heroic Condensed. I have to wonder: is this the new Esquire man? Represented by a no frills, unassuming sans serif? After years of Crank 8 and Stag, which felt like a dad trying to wear his son’s clothes, it’s a smart turnaround.

See also: Graphik reviewed by Kris Sowersby for


  • Graphik
  • Leitura
  • Granger
  • Mercury



7 Comments on “Esquire and Condé Nast Traveler

  1. Granger (we’ll get a sample up soon) is in a rare class of typeface. There are very few large-family serifs with that squarish structure. Indra and I were searching earlier today and she reminded me of Boton’s Scherzo, which seems to me to be the only other usable example besides those you mentioned. RePublic was my favorite of the genre, but Granger’s meatier serifs are better for Esquire’s headlines.

  2. You state "Granger is proud and masculine, typically set in all caps (so far)." but if I am not mistaken, the illustration shows Granger in title case, correct? Or am I mis-reading the whole thing, and Granger is the slim sans in the dek?

    Thanks for another wonderful and quite ambitious article.

  3. Patrick, you're right — there are certainly instances of Granger in title case. I tried to emphasize "typically" because the first two issues of the redesign were dominated by all caps settings. Note even the small treatments, like the three-line dek below "Michael Bastian Has a Right to Exist."

    I think it's something to keep an eye on, since so many magazines rely on big, bold sans serif treatments to make impact. Thanks for reading.

  4. Nice work. I was just very concerned that this is a typography-based site, and there is a close-up photo of a page (Whatever Floats Your Boat) with a very obvious widow! Wow.

  5. Great work. By the way, Michael W, the close-up of "Whatever Floats Your Boat" is an orphan, not a widow. Shit happens!

  6. So, is the GRANGER example at the top of this page the wrong typeface? It doesn’t look anything like the Esquire examples… confusing.

  7. Bird, thanks for catching an error on our end. It’s fixed and the original Granger sample has returned.

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