April 15, 2016

Vogue, a bible of high-end fashion, concedes it was behind the times on digital as its beefed up its online staff of more than 50 people, started a new section of Vogue.com (Vogue Runway), a podcast, and added more video content.

But, unlike many in the magazine and newspaper industries, Lauren Sherman reports that “the brand isn’t forgetting about its core product,” namely print, as the American edition navigates the same challenges as everybody else and deals with sharp single-copy sales declines.

The Business of Fashion (BoF) inspects the fabled publication’s attempt to navigate changing media fashion by boosting, not balkanizing, its glossiest product. That comes amid wicked competition for magazine ad dollars that’s seen owner Condé Nast last year shut Lucky and Details magazines as it focuses on stalwarts Vogue, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Wired and GQ.

Vogue didn’t launch a full-scale website until 2010 but now, albeit belatedly, it is making up for lost time. Sherman reports it had 10.3 million unique users in March, an increase of 6 million from last year. It still generally trails the likes of Elle.com and Harpersbazaar.com.

The new issue, which has a larger trim size (9 inches by 10 7/8 inches, up from 8 inches by 10 7/8 inches in April) as well as heavier paper stock on the table of contents and the introduction to the features well, designed to make the magazine feel more luxurious and easy to navigate, will retail for $6.99 — one dollar above Vogue’s current newsstand price of $5.99.

The new look, it concedes, isn’t permanent, “at least not yet.” But, as American Vouge publisher Susan Plagemann indicates, it will resurface with a special edition on the Met Ball it sponsors.

While the changes are surely meant to entice advertisers as well as readers, they also reflect sustained belief — and added investment — in the power of print.

Macro challenges persist and Vogue will be an interesting case study in how a long authoritative bastion can maintain its influence given rapid magazine industry and cultural fragmentation, not to mention competition from from fashion coverage on TV and the Internet.

Newsstand sales have declined, with single-copy sales down to 193,941 last year, compared to 343,614 in 2010. Subscriptions were up somewhat at the end of 2015, and overall print and digital readership was 18.5 million in February, up from 15.2 million a year earlier.

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New York City native, graduate of Collegiate School, Amherst College and Roosevelt University. Married to Cornelia Grumman, dad of Blair and Eliot. National columnist, U.S.…
James Warren

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