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Fall Fashion returns to pre-2008 growth

In 2010, The Wrap literally weighed the top fashion magazines, and found while they weren’t quite as heavy as they were in 2008, the stack still weighed a total of 1.24 pounds more than they had in 2009. Fashion magazines seem to be making a trend of this, as the majority of top magazines are showing increasing numbers of ad pages for September 2011 issues. Granted, the magazines don’t look like the September issue of Vogue from 2007, which holds the record for being the largest issue ever, but it’s a start.

September issues of the top fashion magazines serve as an unofficial indicator of the fashion industry’s success. Although top designers don’t premier their biggest lines of the year until fall, buyers for clothing stores have already purchased the ready-to-wear-looks based on those lines. And while ad pages in the 700s are not expected to return any time soon, the increase in magazine ad sales indicates that the 30 percent reduction in clothing sales during the recent recession seems to have eased – because the more ads sellers buy, the more clothes they plan to sell.

Even the content of these ads has changed compared to last year. There are still ads from discount retailers and major designers alike, but this year, the number of ad pages major designers paid for is much greater. For example, in both the September 2010 and 2011 issues of W, Target ran two ad pages. However, Dior, Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Hermès and Oscar de la Renta all ran at least double the amount of ad pages in 2011. Gucci also ran one more ad page in this year’s W than in last year’s issue. And designers like Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney made appearances in September 2011 that were absent in 2010. As far as the physical weight of the magazine, W weighs over a pound more than it did in 2010, coming in at 2.7 pounds compared to 1.5 pounds last September.

Not only is the caliber of the advertising going up, but the overall ad page count is as well. According to Ad Age, Vogue has 50 more ad pages this year than last, and Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire are up as well. Vogue is running 584 ad pages, which isn’t quite as impressive as the 727 the magazine ran in 2007, but it is still a 9.3 percent increase compared to last year’s numbers. Glamour is running about the same amount of ads as last year at 240 ad pages, and ad revenue for the magazine is up. Allure, like Glamour, stayed almost even, running approximately 114 ad pages compared to 117 in 2010.

According to Portfolio.com, People Style Watch, which launched just five years ago, increased ad pages 22 percent, or 165 pages. Meanwhile, Ad Age reported that Time Inc’s InStyle shows a 5.8 percent increase from last year, running 431 ad pages – a record for the magazine. And although Elle is running about 18 ad pages less than in 2010, as a whole, Hearst is looking at increases. Cosmopolitan’s ad pages increased by 13.8 percent at 167; Marie Claire’s increased by 16.8 percent at 193 ad pages; and Harper’s Bazaar saw an increase of seven pages this fall, a 2.2 percent gain. WWD reported that even T: The Style Magazine of the New York Times sold one more ad page this year than last, while WSJ. Magazine saw a 52 percent increase in ad pages this September.

Despite print’s last few turbulent years, fashion titles still offer readers a glossy portfolio spread of designs, and advertisers seem to be agreeing that print is the way to go this fall.

–Rebecca Bredholt & Julia Russell

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