If fashion monthlies binged on ad pages in 2007, only to go on a crash diet, moderation could be the watchword of 2011. That’s the sense from the titles as they close their all-important September issues, where advertisers spend big to showcase their fall fashions, and give an indication of their appetite for spending going forward.
Big Condé Nast moneymaker Glamour had a banner issue last September—up a whopping 57.5 percent to 241 ad pages, helped by a tie-in with its brand-new iPad app. This year, without such a gimmick, pages were flat. But this September's Glamour brought in more revenue than any other previous issue of the magazine, and—given the title's importance to the company’s fortunes—that was good enough for Condé chief executive (and onetime Glamour publisher) Chuck Townsend to fête the staff with a Champagne toast. Even Si Newhouse, the aged chairman and CEO of parent Advance Publications, made an appearance.
“September was one for the record books,” declared Bill Wackermann, publishing director over Glamour. “Turns out, everyday business at Glamour has to mean breaking records.”
At the other core fashion books, though, the results were mixed.
Another closely watched title, Elle, saw its ad pages drop 6.8 percent year over year, to 350. To be fair, the magazine, which recently joined Hearst as part of the Hachette Filipacchi Media deal, marked its 25th anniversary in 2010, which inflated last year's September, and it did see gains in fashion, luxury and high-end beauty ads this year.
Luxury-heavy books added only modest gains. Harper’s Bazaar clocked in at 308 pages, an increase of 2.2 percent. W was up 3 percent, to 255. (The Condé title argues that September 2010 number was tough to beat, as that was then-new editor Stefano Tonchi’s much-anticipated first issue. This year, W showed growth in the core categories of fashion, jewelry, and beauty.)
Condé Nast’s Lucky, saw its ad pages rise 8 percent under new editor Brandon Holley's leadership, to 189. It brought in 10 new advertisers, including Laura Mercier and Maidenform. At Hearst, Marie Claire was up 16.8 percent to 190 and Cosmopolitan got a 13.8 percent bump, to 167.
The category heavyweight, Condé Nast’s Vogue, won’t release its numbers until 5 p.m. Wednesday.