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November 28, 2011  | by: Kristine Hoang

The fashion magazine is on the rocks.

Women’s Wear Daily reports: this past year, Vogue is the only fashion magazine whose sales have gone up – its March Lady Gaga cover selling 100,000 copies alone. InStyle, regardless of its 8 percent drop, remains the top-sold magazine, selling 570, 272 issues. Other magazines suffered larger drops: Marie Claire was down 21.5 percent, Glamour down 27.5, Harper’s Bazaar down 14.3, W magazine down 11.8, Elle down 9, and Lucky down 9. Allure’s sales remained flat.

These ratings may shock the avid fashion-magazine reader, but they’re not surprising nonetheless. For the past few years, the popularity of online fashion media has skyrocketed, progressively outsourcing the print magazine. Twitter, Tumblr, fashion news sites, the fashion blogosphere, and supplementary online editions of the magazines themselves all have contributed to this rise.

March's Lady Gaga Cover

We all know Vogue’s editorial spreads can be a little elaborate – artistic some may say – and that they feature $1000 vests (plus, very thin women soaring 6 feet high). These very facts push real women, who have neither the need for luxurious gowns nor the purchasing power for them, away. In Vogue‘s stead, the fashion blogosphere emerged.

In the fashion blogosphere, real women (fashion bloggers and readers alike) are given a space to interact.  Fashion bloggers understand that real, working women want affordability, practicality, but also great style. These values are especially important, since in today’s faltering economy people are eliminating what they don’t need.  Thus, it all boils down to a question of trust: should we trust the girl from Connecticut who makes shirt-turned-skirts work, or the fashion editor who suggests a $2000 Hermes bag for our winter haul?

The ratio of ads to actual editorial content is another matter.  Fashion magazines are full of fashion ads that cost thousands of dollars, which, understandably, pay for their production costs. However, this means about one-third to half of a magazine is fashion ads. With each magazine costing about $4-5, there’s not much incentive to buy them.

The idea that magazines forge an ideal of the perfect, fantasy women is also pressing – and in turn, discouraging. Trend reports, new diet tips, and sex advice suggest that women are not doing enough – they’re too poor, too fat, and not good enough in bed.  But this divide – between the mag-o-sphere and real women – has finalized the emergence of a “new woman,” I believe, one that has long evolved from the woman of the 1920s. She’s the type of woman who doesn’t need a magazine to tell her what to buy or how to look.

Though I personally enjoy magazines, I’ll be quite honest: I get most of my fashion news online.  Blogs like NY Magazine’s The Cut produce instant and well-written news articles, while designers’ Twitters and Tumblrs provide first-hand news. It’s all about speed, credibility, interesting content, and cost. Unless editors turn out new strategies, it’ll be hard for the fashion magazine to keep up. Times have changed.

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