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The Disappearance of Fashion Magazines

Years ago it was a routine, a ritual even to make your way to a magazine stand. The grocery store, airport, or where ever it may be one could find solace in the highly saturated pages. Amongst the bizarre headlines on the National Inquirer and gossip fueled rumors in People Magazine were the greats: Glamour, Seventeen, Marie Claire, and Vogue. Yet now, the routine of flipping through pages is not without interruption. It's a strange occurrence; one by one fashion magazines have ceased to exist as physical copies and now continue in an online space.

As of late InStyle was the latest victim of this tragic affair. The magazine, a hub for all things fashion, beauty, and lifestyle related is no longer continuing their print issues as of April 2022. While their latest fashion issue serves as a nice distraction to the grim new, one can't help but wonder: What lies ahead for print fashion magazines?

The Pattern

InStyle, one of six publications residing under Dotdash Meredith, has become a hot topic when discussing the end of print magazines. While the high editorial pages are no more, the company and remaining articles are finding a new home in the virtual world. Neil Vogel the chief executive of Meredith spoke candidly in the New York Times about the change in direction. " It is not news to anyone that there has been a pronounced shift in readership and advertising from print to digital, and as a result, for a few important brands, print is no longer serving the brand's core purpose." The memo continues to discuss the importance of welcoming the "inevitable digital future" and how the company is looking forward to growing both online and within their other print magazines.

InStyle is not the only one leaving the shelves. Famed magazines we've come to know and love have already been left behind. In January of 2018, Glamour hired digital journalist Samantha Berry to act as the Editor-in-Chief of the publication. Only a year later the magazine announced it would no longer be in print and would instead focus on its digital presence. During the pandemic, Marie Claire's executives from the Hearst corporation reduced it's print issues from 11 to 7, while at the same time launching their first digital issue. After being acquired by Future US the following year, Marie Claire ended its print publication. Among other factors, there's a pattern here. A change in management, a new media corporation, and the quiet current of the digital media landscape that's forever changing print magazines.

The Numbers

Take the beloved Seventeen Magazine, a fan favorite that's been passed among teens and tweens for decades. Similarly to every other publication the numbers simply weren't showing up on newsstands. According to MPA's Brand Audience Report from 2017-2018 Seventeen’s digital and print edition readership was down 3.4 percent, with its digital desktop readership also reduced by 11.7 percent. In addition, the Alliance for Audited Media report in 2018 had noted that the magazine had cut it's circulation - reducing their presence by 100,000 copies over the course of six months. The evident decline for many fashion publications couldn't be ignored. Yet a ray of hope remains at the end of the tunnel. In noticing these declining numbers corporations noticed their audiences somewhere else. Viewership in spaces such as Snapchat, Youtube, and other video formats was increasing (for Seventeen this increase was as large as 323.3 percent year after year). Those previously flipping and through pages and skimming articles didn't disappear, they had simply migrated elsewhere.

And it makes perfect sense. As times evolved and changed with modern technologies, so did the audience of each magazine. For Gen Z and many others it can be much more convenient to open your phone and chose from a variety of apps to get the latest fashion news. Why wait and pay for a print of Vogue when you can head to their Instagram in a matter of seconds. Endless scrolling to get live updates about NYFW and behind the scenes information from your favorite editors and celebrities is just a click away.

The Hard Truth

The evolving digital landscape couldn't be the sole reason for making the transition online; after all these magazines and the media groups they live under are multimillion dollar entities set on maintaining their wealth. From Vogel's words the intent of corporations is clear. He doubles down, echoing, "We have said from the beginning, buying Meredith was about buying brands, not magazines or websites." It all comes down to money.

For many making the switch, it was simply a way to cut costs in areas of printing and advertising. As the transitions occur many staff members are also vulnerable to these major cuts. The long list of creatives working diligently day in and day out have fallen victim to harsh treatment and uncertain futures. InStyle and its sister magazines is soon to face 200 job cuts, which accounts for around 5 percent of the company's total workforce.

Releasing a collective statement, Meredith Union spoke candidly on the matter at hand. " The company conducted the layoffs in a rushed and disrespectful fashion unbefitting of the long and dedicated service the workers provided to the publication." Truths of the company's failure to respect its workers, in addition to their uncooperative behavior, and "arbitrary decisions" shines a light on the fashion magazine we've all come to know and love. While we come to value the dedicated labor put into these publications their work is often undervalued and understated by those in charge.

The End of an Era

Fashion magazines act as a companion for us all. They live in our purses and entertain us during dull moments, they keep us preoccupied in various waiting rooms, and they dazzle us every week when our weekly subscription arrives in the mail.

For me fashion magazines were a source of inspiration. With my favorites being Teen Vogue, Nylon, and Seventeen I was thrilled every time they showed up at my door. After flipping through them day after day select pages would be chosen to grace my bedroom walls with Scotch tape and remain there until the next fashion moment came along. To this day I still have all my copies of each magazine. While some may think of them as a thing of a past I consider them to be a fashion capsule: incredible editorials and fashion advice that are solidified on glossy, printed pages.

The end of an era is coming so indulge yourself. Buy a copy of your favorite fashion magazine and go wild. Tear out pages ad stick them to your walls. Make a collage. Make a vision board. Or simple just grace the pages with your fingers and truly value the team and editors that put the work together. Print magazines are now a relic, and it's time to cherish them before they fly off the shelves completely.

Illustration by Inci Sahin


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