How Long Can Legacy Fashion Magazines Survive?
With worrying ad trends and print on life support, the future looks bleak.
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Market trends indicate a worrying picture for the world’s leading ad-supported fashion and lifestyle magazine brands. If budget troubles aren’t being felt yet, they probably will be soon — meaning we are unfortunately likely to see even further consolidation and cuts across the media industry going into 2023. One editor told me: “It feels like 2008.” However, this time could be even worse. Back then, bloated print magazine teams faced the brunt of recession-induced cuts. But now, the cuts are likely to come for digital because, well, that’s all we have left after years of turmoil and consolidation.
A tipster told Back Row that 20 percent of the staff was recently cut from Domino and Saveur, both of which are owned by private equity firm North Equity. (A spokesperson for Saveur did not respond to an email seeking comment.) North Equity acquired Saveur in October of 2020; four months later, the title announced the closure of its print edition. Then North Equity acquired Domino; that title’s print edition died five months later, in the summer of 2021.
Media mergers and acquisitions seem to always come with headline-making cuts. Just two months after DotDash merged with Meredith, the company announced it would close six print titles, including InStyle.
Private equity companies continue to explore ways to meddle with the media industry. Axios’s Sara Fischer recently reported that private equity firm CVC partnered with Group Black to make a bid for Vox Media, which owns New York magazine including its fashion brand The Cut (where I started my fashion journalism career). Fischer had previously reported that CVC was looking into financing Group Black’s acquisition of BDG Media, which includes Bustle, Nylon, and W, among other titles. (Group Black is a media company that aims to shift ad spending to Black-owned outlets and seeks to acquire digital titles as part of its strategy.)
Also worrying is everything that’s been in the news about the ad market lately. Take Elon Musk’s email to Twitter staff, as reported in The Verge:
“Frankly, the economic picture ahead is dire, especially for a company like ours that is so dependent on advertising in a challenging economic climate,” he wrote. “Moreover, 70% of our advertising is brand, rather than specific performance, which makes us doubly vulnerable!”
This point is an important one not just for Twitter but any ad-driven business.