Once upon a time, there was a girl that loved fashion magazines, particularly American Vogue. To find out who was on the cover, to flip the pages, to admire Grace Coddington’s editorials, to read about designers of the moment and to check the new campaigns from beloved brands was a pleasure and also a way to elevate her fashion culture. She saw models been replaced by celebrities, swapped paper for tablet and followed Vogue in its digital expansion. However, one day, when the time to renew her subscription arrived, she realized that the pleasure had turned into a habit and there weren’t any reasons to keep it. After years watching the same celebrities with little or nothing to say on the covers, superficial topics and embarrassing trials to increase an online presence (how hard it may be to edit the top 10 beauty Instagrams of the week???), she knew it was time to say goodbye and ended a relationship of almost 20 years.
The problem is that like her, thousands of readers are also bidding farewell to fashion magazines. Meanwhile, the younger generation couldn’t care less about them as they grew up accessing content via blogs and social media. That means the fate of magazines has been traced? The possibility exists, just don’t blame the internet but the way they are interacting with the public.
As a start, the Vogues, Elles and Bazaars lost their authority and power to influence fashion. They gave up being leaders and turned into followers thanks to pathetic attempts of talking with a “deaf” audience. Instead of captivating the ones who grew up reading them, they insist on competing with bloggers/vloggers or put Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid in every issue. The average age of a Vogue reader is 38 years old, as I’m almost there I can speak with propriety that “social influencers” don’t inspire me to buy a magazine. I’m positive that a lot of people agree. Nothing against them, but to know about their lives, I just need to follow on Instagram.
Magazines are missing the chance to reinvent themselves, to be a more analytical vehicle, with a more in-depth content. Instead of exploring new ways to communicate, they let instant demands rule and keep trying an approach that simply can’t match an image projected for decades. The result is unwilling, artificial and irrelevant. When was the last time that a Vogue cover made headlines? When Kim Kardashian was on it? What was the impact for the industry? None.
I really believe that fashion magazines were created to sell dreams, to plot purposefully unreal images that inspire creativity and, yes, consumption in an indirect way. The distance between the publication and the reader is part of the game. On the other hand, the internet (blogs, vlogs, social media) suggests the opposite: it is the space to fast interaction and direct consumption (literally, a product is only a few clicks away). They don’t need to be exclusive, quite the contrary, and may complement each other – as long as they manage their domains, which unfortunately is not happening in Anna Wintour’s office…