April 1st, 2014
Fashion Discussion, Featured, Magazine RIP
Fashion Discussion: With the Current State of the Publishing Industry, Would a Black Fashion Magazine Survive?
By Claire

In an e-mail titled, “Topic for Discussion,” stylist Raymond Gee wrote, ” In the fashion world we have a plethora of magazines to choose from, [but] as black people we tend to have to wait for magazines like Vogue to put black stars on the cover. Though there are magazines that represent the black audience, where are the magazines that cater to the black community who are reading for fashion edification and inspiration?”
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He continued, “At 21, I am a stylist, more specifically, a 21 year old black stylist. Since my interest in fashion peaked in high school I have been seeking inspiration in the pages of Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and following them, i-D, Z!NK, IDOL, Dazed and Confused, and many more titles. What you will notice is that among those names, neither Essence nor Ebony were listed. In the last year or so, I have found interest in Jones Magazine, a slight interest in Uptown, none in Vibe Vixen, which I found to be garish.”
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“…My point is that black people make a cry to see black models and celebrities on the cover of mainstream magazines, but never recognize that we have magazines that are geared towards our community. As a stylist, I don’t see the work of black stylists without searching for it. Big names like Patti Wilson, Pat McGrath, and Edward Enninful don’t work for Essence or Ebony, just like I won’t read them, I don’t read them. I wouldn’t work for them, they hold no interest for me.”
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Finally, he said, “When YOUNG people like Oroma Elewa of the defunct, Pop’Africana, Sarah Diouf of Ghubar magazine, and Fashizblack magazine (all foreign). Or stylists like Donald Hicks and Beagy Zielinski exist it is shocking to me to think that there isn’t a high fashion magazine that caters to young (16-30 somethings) who care about high end fashion. We have outlets that dabble in fashion, but not in a capacity that is comparable to the overwhelming majority of fashion magazines. If you and I, or anyone reading this cares about Azzedeine Alaia, Balmain, Prada, Alexander Wang, Alexander McQueen, or Marc Jacobs, why isn’t there an outlet that reflects our interests that isn’t tied up in celebrity only. Why couldn’t I be a young boy staying up late dreaming about spreads that I saw in magazine run by and featuring people who look like me and share the same interests? “
Joan Smalls and Jourdan Dunn by Patrick Demarchelier for W Magazine February 2014
Well, young man, I appreciate your zeal. My short answer is: Print is Dead. Stick a fork in it. People don’t buy or subscribe to magazines as they used to. Most fashion enthusiasts are online, with more and more people just going mobile (I guarantee a growing number of Fashion Bomb readers read this site on their phone vs. their home computer).
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Not sure if I told you this, but about a year ago, I actually had the ‘revolutionary’ idea that any enterprising black woman interested in fashion would have: to spearhead the relaunch of Suede. I shopped the idea around to former Suede editors, one time media moguls, and even the then Editor-in-Chief of Essence. They all laughed.
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Why? It takes several million dollars to launch a magazine (the low number was $5 million). It takes that many more millions of dollars to maintain. There are fashion advertisers, who aren’t really interested in the demographic, to woo. And then there are subscribers to please. And it seems there simply aren’t enough Raymond Gee’s out there to justify such a fantastic expense.
The Life Rhapsodic US Vogue March 2011 featuring Chanel Iman, Jourdan Dunn, Ajak Deng, Joan Smalls, and Anais Mali
So in the meantime, sorry kids, but it seems you’ll have to deal with websites like Fashion Bomb Daily that mix runway, editorials, and celebrity…or hop on over to street style sites like BlackFashion.Tumblr.com.
Or create your own stylishly edifying publication.
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The world is waiting.
6 Jourdan Dunn by Alan Gelati for S Moda November 2013
Until then, what do you think? With the current state of the industry, could a black fashion magazine survive and thrive?

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23 comments

23 Responses to “Fashion Discussion: With the Current State of the Publishing Industry, Would a Black Fashion Magazine Survive?”

  1. 2 cents says:

    Black people want luxury and look good in it, but most don’t buy luxury… so why would a Louis Vuitton, for example, advertise in a magazine for black people?
    Most people who read this don’t spend more than $100 on an item. The black luxury customer exists, but you know who they all are (I’m looking at you Marjorie Harvey). It is a very very small sliver of luxury profit, I’m sure

  2. LeRoque says:

    Claire makes a great point but, you sound like a visionary yourself. What you’ve done is identify a niche. Be innovative and start something new. A new approach to fashion publication that hasn’t been done before. You even sound like you have a great perspective being that you are young and black. Sounds like a revolution in the making.

  3. fly won says:

    I love and am subscribed to essence magazine(print)for my “women of color” fix. I like the balance. Although I just realized I can download the print version on my phones app.
    Signed,
    Analog Girl

  4. Anonymous says:

    For the person who commented first…how can you say black people don’t buy luxury? Such a broad statement should be supported by evidence. I am surrounded by educated black people from all over the world that buy luxury items and give luxury items as gifts. Just because you name one person that you see in nice clothes doesn’t mean that is the only one.

  5. Jihan says:

    to the first commenter, actually black people will outspend whites on luxury products… i think about 3x as much? so, we’re buying the stuff. Read this for more info: http://fashionista.com/2013/10/black-people-are-spending-more-on-clothes-than-ever-so-where-are-all-the-black-faces-in-fashion/

  6. While I see the reader’s point, there are many black people in addition to the ones he mentioned, making waves with magazines, but as Claire stated, they’re online. A few are in print. High fashion ads aren’t littering the pages, but we must first support them so they can deliver the content we want to see.

    A few off the top of my head are:

    Taste Makers Magazine (online)
    Sheen Magazine(online/print)
    The Style Pantry(online)
    We the Urban(online/moving to print)
    Black Women’s Style Report(online/print)

  7. iQgraphics says:

    My personal level of “consumerism” has declined over the years so I don’t really find myself knee deep in periodicals the way I used to be however as far as genres are concerned, I kind of see Essence and Ebony in the vein of a Marie Claire or a Redbook. Less of a High fashion mag and more of a lifestyle mag. And there’s nothing wrong with that, I just don’t feel like the comparison of Vogue to Ebony really applies.

    I own every issue of Suede and was very excited about it. The layout, the content and the design. I subscribed and then the publisher swapped my title for Vibe vixen when if fell defunct. I also recall damon dash* I think, trying his hand at it with a mag called “America”* I think… What ever the title, I have those too and that didn’t last long either. (but I think that may have had more to do with that infamous dash attitude than the industry)

    I do think there is a market for a High end Black mag. It seems as a culture we are really making our mark in the industry these days,both on the front and back end, and with the aid of social media allowing us to put ill treatment and/or discrimination within the industry on full blast, a new print mag would have some staying power.

    As we are different, culturally, it too would have to be different and would need to be more worldly and probably contain cultural political content as well.

  8. Rae B says:

    WOW CLAIRE I LOVE YOU! SUEDE was my favorite magazine. I wish it came out every month instead of 3 or was it 6? Cant remember I was 14. It was such a breath of fresh air and the only black magazine I remember saying wow this is amazing to. Honestly I still have them till this day. Thats how amazing they are. Im with you Claire! Lets start it over! Im an assistant buyer and think this can actually go somewhere!

  9. Jen says:

    To Jihan’s point—
    Actually, the article states that Blacks consume more luxury goods *as a percentage of their income/spending*. To quote the linked story:

    “Granted, whites consume more luxury items, thanks to their higher incomes, but the fact remains that even with smaller budgets, black people are sacrificing significant chunks of money to the luxury gods.”

    And to quote the author of the study cited:

    “Blacks devote about – blacks and Hispanic – about 28 percent more of their – they buy 28 percent more of those goods than do other groups.”

    So though we may spend a greater percentage of our income on luxury goods, we do not necessarily spend more in dollars. The implications of this, I believe, are in Claire’s experience shopping Suede around (though I would have loved to read it).

  10. Savannah H. says:

    Jihan, I love your pieces in Fashionista, especially the one on Kanye West! Why is it that you don’t post articles like that on FashionBombDaily? I feel like the articles on FBD aren’t fleshed out enough.

  11. Selina says:

    Just seeing on various websites how many people have stated that they miss Honey and Suede Magazine years after their respective closings (almost a decade for Suede) demonstrates that there is a market for a high end black fashion magazine.

    FYI: I was actually a month into a semester-long internship at Suede Magazine when it folded. I was so hurt because I really enjoyed the staff, the art direction and content was cutting edge for its time, and I had gained a lot of experience during the short time I was there. In that month, I had done more than some of my counterparts at other well-known fashion publications (and was treated a lot better). Suede Magazine was a quarterly publication because it was just starting out and they were testing the market. They were actually transitioning into a monthly publication at the time they folded.

    Claire is right. A printed publication requires a lot of money to start and maintain. And if you’re looking to create one on the same level as Suede, which was heavy on graphics and color, it will cost even more. Creating a digital publication would certainly be more cost effective and convenient. But personally, there’s just something about physically being able to turn a page of a book/magazine.

    A couple years ago, there was a paper by Norell Giancana, PhD that was available for download online called “Invisible Women: The Story of Honey Magazine and How the Market Impacts the Discourse of the Public Sphere.” It was an interesting read that discussed the downfall of both Honey and Suede Magazine, as well as the now infamous Vogue Italia’s ‘All Black Issue.’ It certainly made me more convinced that if there was ever to be a high end black fashion publication, it needs to be independently owned.

  12. kay says:

    Someone was conducting a market research survey about starting a black fashion magazine. I took the survey and hope that she is going to follow through. I know it is hard especially without funding, but if everyone pitched in some kind of support whether it be financial or contributing maybe it can work.

    I personally would love to see a black fashion magazine. I too had Suede magazine and enjoyed it.

  13. Miss those days... says:

    HONEY MAGAZINE WAS THE BEST!

  14. Nicole says:

    I totally agree with this young man. I think that Jones Magazine is the only thing comparable to a good fashion magazine at this moment.

  15. Arabella says:

    I really like this post and the pics are amazing!

  16. Mikelle S says:

    I think – negating the fact that Essence used to be somewhat of a big fashion player with the Essence Fashion Fair(Andre Leon Talley was there before Vogue) and that the magazine is currently undergoing a redesign – it comes down to this: blacks have historically been forced to see luxury as a stereotypical white attribute and the reverse isn’t true. The result is that a publication predicated on wooing the “black fashion consumer” is automatically niche because of the race attribution which will be thought to automatically negate white fashion consumers while the reverse isn’t true. Even in the email, Raymond points to publications that are mainly targeted at a white audience.

    I don’t really know if we necessarily need a “black” publication but a multicultural one could possibly work. A publication where in it’s ethos, there is heavy attention paid to ensuring that content equally covers girls of all shades without a heavy handed “This article is for black girls, this article is for latino girls.”

  17. justme says:

    Jones is a good magazine. I’ve only seen it in one store though. If fashion blogs, especially black fashion blogs, would help promote them, I think they could survive.

  18. Rosie says:

    This article makes me cry. I love love love print magazines. I love turning the glossy pages and and seeing the vibrant colors pop off the page. (I still have all issues of Suede and I even have America too!) I read my fair share of blogs too but it’s sad to see print dissolve.

    I completely agree with the stylist, as a fashion lover I ready Vogue Italia, Elle, Bazaar, even Marie Claire but I’d only pick up Essence if someone gave it to me. Personally I would love to work there and help revamp it like Nina Garcia did for Marie Claire.

  19. hmmmm…..
    I also don’t read essence…or other black lifestyle mags, as I don’t always feel like there’s enough content in there that relates to me.
    As someone who lives in the uk, and leads quite a multicultural life (i just made that term up lol) those mags always felt like they were for someone else, not me. I used to buy the sophisticates black hair mag for hair ideas alone.
    My monthly mag purchases are Glamour (uk), and sometimes InStyle(uk) and Vogue(uk)…i feel like i can relate much more to Glamour mag, than I do essence…I sometimes feel like making a mag purely based on race isn’t the best idea. But that’s just my opinion, and I love FBD for it’s diversity. x

  20. aries says:

    to answer the question, I think a black fashion magazine could work, but it has to have all the good stuff that Elle, Vogue and Bazaar has, when I am in Barnes & Noble, I will pick those up before I pick up Essence, although, I still buy Essence & Ebony, depending on the cover story. I don’t look to those 2 magazines, when I want to see some fashion. I think it is Elle, every now and then they do an Elle Accessories publication. I love that. I think Raymond can be the one to start the black fashion magazine, even if it starts out small, like the size of a US Weekly, In Touch, etc. but I agree with him, I get tired of us, begging Vanity Fair & other mag like them, to put us on the cover, we need a mag that is strictly fashion.

  21. Aris says:

    Wow Suede magazine was by far my favorite magazine because it was for me! I still have those magazines (just as a collection) at my parents house….that’s how much I loved it!

  22. randomnone says:

    @yvonne You stated what I was thinking the whole time. Essence carters to the black women in America, i.e. African American. It does not pique my interest that way. I always skip those YouTube videos that say “how to do African American hair”. maybe how to do black hair, if you would like the rest of us non Americans to watch It may sound petty but that is the psychology and there is a psychology and art in appealing to people’s emotions…i.e. begging for their coins. There aren’t enough African Americans to sustain the costs because although black people spend more than they have, they will not spend it on a magazine. They will read the neighbours. Fact.

  23. caprice says:

    Yeah, I totally miss suede. It was upscale and around the way simultaneously.

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