We are now in the third year of our September weigh-in, and probably to anyone’s surprise, the news is not good.
For those of you unfamiliar with this feature, we’ve started weighing and measuring some of the top fashion magazines to see how they stack up (literally and figuratively), since ad page sales don’t. are more considered (by some) as the gold standard for determining a successful fall fashion problem.
The September press release of this year was ushered in by fairly negative press, including questions about its vitality and its future. And we have to admit, having seen our own three-year trendline, that such questions are not without merit.
Of the eight stocks we measured, all but six were down significantly and the other two were only flat. The charts paint a rather grim picture of the continuing decline in what was once the most important month for many magazines, and not just fashion books.
If you could call someone a “winner” we assume that Carry, which remained perfectly flat, would it be. Followed by Harper’s Bazaar, which remained almost flat, aside from a slight narrowing in the thickness of the spine, which could be attributed to a number of variable factors. So basically for the purposes of this report it was also stable year over year.
Vogue, the category leader, retains its place as the heaviest pound in the stack, but its weight is down 10 ounces since last year and 15 ounces since 2016. That’s a reduction of almost 25% in just two years.
For the record, there were other troubling indicators with this year’s publication as well. First of all, from our perspective, we’ve seen very little effort to promote the books compared to previous years. In addition, the release dates have been extremely staggered, for no clear reason. She, for example, was held until August 28, while others were released during the first week of the month.
In addition, it was difficult to find all the titles again this year. And again, we ended up buying them all from a major bookseller (you can probably guess which one). One of our team members even browsed a few major retail chains as well as independent newsstands in Manhattan, but was told they no longer sell magazines. Ouch!
So with all the bad news, here’s a little good news: Four of the eight of these magazines feature a headline that isn’t white. To date, most have heard of Beyoncé’s Vogue to resume. But emerging star and comedian Tiffany Haddish as well as regular magazine cover, Lupita Nyong’o, adorn the covers of Charm and Carry, respectively. This is remarkable, considering that it wasn’t that long ago that white women were the norm on pretty much every cover, not just in September. So while there may not be much to celebrate from a business perspective, there is cause for optimism about the social implications of the fall fashion premiere of This year.
Each magazine was weighed on two scales to confirm accuracy. The weights are then rounded to the nearest ounce. In addition, each spine has been measured to the middle of the book and rounded to the nearest millimeter. Since the cup sizes and paper are not uniform, we are measuring both the weight and back thickness to provide a fairer comparison.