A survival strategy for fashion magazines

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When Dotdash Meredith announced he was closing the American fashion magazine InStyle’s edition printed in February, it was a fairly familiar story for the beleaguered publishing industry.

Once-dominant titles like Charm and Marie Claire had also ceased printing operations in recent years. All three magazines had appeal for all women, with articles on “pandemic brain fog” and the cosmetic procedure behind the “fox eye” trend. AT In the style, former editor Laura Brown put widely loved celebrities like Jennifer Aniston and Melissa McCarthy on the cover, just like her predecessor Ariel Foxman did. She differentiated herself from the past by moving away from the mass-buy pages, instead filling the book with profiles of up-and-coming designers like Thebe Magugu and Anifa Mvuemba and adding more quirky human interest elements.

Brown’s fashion and celebrity connections, which earned her major coverage even as celebrities began to prefer using their own channels to communicate information and build their own brands, couldn’t save InStyle. headwinds that were decimating the print edition model. According to PwC, by next year digital advertising revenue will exceed that of print in mainstream magazines, primarily because print ad sales are falling so rapidly. Publishers are rapidly pivoting to respond to this reality; Condé Nast posted its first annual profit in years in 2021 after considerable investment in its digital operations, according to the the wall street journal.

But print isn’t dead yet. This year saw the launch of Black Fashion Fair Volume 0: Seen, a magazine from the retail and education platform of the same name; old O editor Stefano Tonchi launched the first in a planned series of glosses covering wealthy American enclaves; another former editor, Emanuele Farneti of Vogue Italy, meanwhile is behind the redesign of the printed weekly D under the Italian publisher Gedi.

Publishers that still bet on print are targeting niche communities rather than trying to reach the widest possible audience. After all, In the styleThe 2.1 million subscribers were not enough to save him. They are also rethinking their relationship with brands, in some cases working with one business partner per number instead of chasing as many advertisers as possible.

“We literally don’t care how many people read us,” said Angus James MacEwan, senior vice president of US affairs at Highsnobiety. “No one in our company asks us how many people read our magazine and neither do our partners. Overall, printing is more important to us commercially than it has ever been.

Create value

Black Fashion Fair Volume 0: Seen Sold out in less than two hours in early February. The 200-page magazine was produced exclusively with Warby Parker and priced at $95 for a limited edition version and $300 for the collector’s edition.

The magazine worked because it filled a void in mainstream publishing (except for titles like Gasoline) where black designers and fashion designers were given the freedom to create images and features without acquiescing to the vision of editors. the New York Times and vogue covered the launch, while the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York purchased copies. Its deepest impact was felt by the community it addressed.

“I’m gonna cry forever if I can’t figure this out Black Fashion Fair Volume 0: Seen publication,” said one Twitter user. “It’s history! On paper!”

Warby Parker eyewear appeared in fashion editorials at Black Fashion Fair and although the magazine’s release was timed for the launch of the brand’s new collection, the magazine team had “complete autonomy” to create this she wanted, said Warby Parker chief executive Neil Blumenthal.

Rethink success

Publishers like Highsnobiety measure the success of their print magazines by their contribution to the broader brand. Securing the largest possible spread to maximize ad sales is less important.

TOPStyle, the print edition of Highsnobiety, is aimed at readers who already visit Highsnobiety’s website, attend its events and purchase its products, MacEwan said. The issues cover a range of themes: a recent TOPStyle the cover teases readers with an image of model Irina Shayk, dressed in a ribbed sports bra and matching briefs, her hands suggestively hidden; the magazine’s summer 2021 issue, titled HIGHEnergy, focused on athletics and included cover star Marcus Rashford. The magazine is available for purchase online for around $22.

Print magazines are also valuable in a more intangible way, giving cachet to their digital counterparts. It’s often easier to sell a celebrity on the idea of ​​appearing on a print magazine cover, especially as print covers become rarer and therefore more coveted, talent agents say. While digital covers can help boost social media engagement, they don’t have the same impact and are often quickly drowned out by other content.

“For us, it’s pretty clear that the print magazine is a really good trickle down for the whole brand,” said identifier editor Alastair McKimm.

Sell ​​without selling

It’s not just publishers who need brands; brands need publishers to help reach consumers beyond social media. Instead of offering ad partners full-page ads at the start of a book, magazines put entire issues up for sale. The result: Editorial titles are able to produce financially sustainable numbers, while advertisers can have peace of mind knowing their brand isn’t competing with a competitor for readers’ attention.

In March, Bottega Veneta financed the return of End magazine with a 100-page issue launched during Paris Fashion Week, of which the brand was the sole advertiser.

TOPStyle offers advertising partners paid cover placements – a longtime open secret in fashion publishing – and brand stories that are amplified on the magazine’s digital channels. As a result, MacEwan said, the magazine “more than tripled” its traditional year-over-year ad revenue.

While deals like these are a lucrative pursuit for publishers, the common refrain among creatives is that too heavy a brand hand can drown out vision. The interest of the brand is however not so far removed from that of the editorial team: the whole point of pursuing a magazine partnership is to differentiate themselves from other marketing channels of the brand where they have full control over the message. . In order to avoid conflicts, a brand sponsor and the magazine must align on vision and ethics, to allow the editorial team the freedom to create according to guidelines agreed upon from the start.

vice-ownership identifier’The “Out of The Blue” issue, which was “co-hosted” with Tiffany and released in December 2021, helped propel the magazine into its most financially successful year, McKimm said.

“It was understood that this was going to be a identifier question, powered by Tiffany and which obviously would celebrate their product as well,” McKimm said. “But there were also a lot of pages and photo shoots that incorporated no jewelry at all… all sorts of things in an issue that would normally be in a identifier question that were still in a identifier publish.”

Editor’s note: This article was revised on March 21, 2022. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the latest issue of Butt magazine is sold at Bottega Veneta stores, online and offline. It’s not. Bottega Veneta is the sole advertiser for the issue, but the magazine is distributed in select bookstores and newsstands, and is not for sale in Bottega Veneta stores.

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