SPOTLIGHT 

Fashion magazines

Forgotten how to dress up to go out? Never fear, the fashion magazines are out there to help you. Alan Geere braves the catwalk.

By Alan Geere

Fashion magazines
Photograph: Freestocks on Unsplash.

Elle

What’s it about: ‘First with fashion, feminism, beauty, shopping and celebrity news and trends’ – Twitter explainer.

Vital statistics: June 2021 issue: 172 pages of 285mm x 216mm. Gloss paper, heavyweight cover, perfect bound. £4.99 cover price. Combined ABC of 107,622 (Jan-Dec 2020). Published monthly by Hearst Magazines UK in London.

Cover: Big picture of model Olly Eley, wearing Celine Homme silver necklace, £790. Three coverlines, masthead partially obscured by Olly and an elegant brush stroke.

Content: Flick past the ads full of beautiful people to find contents on pages 17 and 18, elegantly divided into Style, Reads, Fashion, Beauty and Travel. ‘Upfront’ is a triumph of bits and pieces – hats, books, artists, interviews – ingeniously put together in a design delight. ‘Style’ kicks off with seven pages of handbags while the first ‘Read’ on the pressures of privilege gives plenty of food for thought. Cover story on non-binary Olly is deftly written for him in the first person followed by 16 pages of red fashion. Just oodles of content thoughtfully finished off with a break – ‘no-haul holidays’.

Digital: Website – elle.com/uk – promoted from the spine (beware: elle.co.uk is a tights manufacturer) has sections on news, fashion, beauty, life + culture and sustainability which shines a light on which fashion brands are doing their bit for the planet. Links to a very healthy 1.1m followers on Twitter and a whopping 5.4m likes on Facebook.

What they say: “At the turn of the millennium, I was 23-years-old, hell bent on a summer of casual encounters and nights that refused to end at daybreak” – editor Farrah Storr comes clean on life 20 years ago, in the Editor’s Letter.

Verdict: Bright and colourful, and by turn both joyous and thought-provoking, this is a magazine to encompass every mood and attitude. Lots of beautiful people modelling garments and accessories with eye-watering prices alongside well-written and generously displayed journalism. And those 6+m social media followers must know what’s good for them.

Grazia

What’s it about: “The number one destination for smart and stylish women” – descriptor on Twitter.

Vital statistics: June 14, 2021 issue: 92 pages of 300mm x 230mm. Matt paper, heavyweight gloss cover, stitched. £2.75 cover price. Combined ABC of 85,606 (Jul-Dec 2020). Published fortnightly by Bauer in London.

Cover: Big picture of actress Anna Maxwell Martin, wearing a Christopher Kane shirt, £645. Three other smaller images, eight coverlines including the must read ‘I went from no hugs to a threesome’.

Content: Functional contents on page three, plus half a page on ‘Unlock Grazia!’ via a QR code. 10 Hot Stories is a mix of celebrity, interviews and fashion before that cover story interview, including two full-page fashion shoot pictures. Writer Paris Lees is also all glammed up for her interview before dedicated sections on Fashion, Health + Beauty and Life Skills. A neat first person ‘At the end of the day…’ near the back where we learn Cat Deeley has a huge wardrobe and goes to bed “really early”.

Digital: graziadaily.co.uk is an energetic website with tons of zeitgeisty content and enough well-argued talking points to keep readers away from what they should be doing. Links to Twitter (464.4k followers) and 371.5k likes on Facebook.

What they say: “Our reader is more engaged in world affairs than ever before, but at times feels disillusioned and demoralised” – thoughtful reflections from editor Hattie Brett (also British Society of Magazine Editors chair for 2021) in an interview with Campaign magazine.

Verdict: With its larger page size and affordable cover price, this generous offering deserves its place on the front rank of fashion / style / life-is-for-living magazines. Edgy, and a bit saucy in places, it goes after with a vengeance those “modern, savvy, affluent, confident and busy women” that it identifies as the audience.

Harper’s Bazaar

What’s it about: ‘Fashion, beauty, culture, art, travel – all you need for a stylish life’ – picture painted on Twitter page.

Vital statistics: June 2021 issue: 164 pages of 215mm x 290mm. Gloss paper, heavyweight cover including gatefold ad. £4.80 cover price. Combined ABC of 100,005 (Jan-Dec 2020). Published monthly by Hearst Magazines UK in London.

Cover: Full-page picture of Francesca Hayward – "The radiant British ballerina" – wearing Molly Goddard tulle dress (no price). Three other coverlines and a reference to the website url.

Content: Thumb through to pages 23 and 26 for the contents, nestling between the sumptuous ads, neatly divided into the usual suspects (features, fashion, food & drink etc) plus the more enigmatic ‘Talking points’, a collection of arty quick reads. Lavish full-page fashion shoots, including 15 pages on the cover story, plus ‘10 Things We Love’ featuring a matching bra and knickers for £1,790. Novelist Esther Freud explores some of her famous family and designer Anya Hindmarch shares her top tips for ‘How can I bring a sense of fun to work?’. Travel – UK only, of course – brings things to a neat conclusion.

Digital: Website harpersbazaar.com/uk hangs off the main US site and has fashion and beauty along with sustainability (see Elle above). Links to Twitter with 507k followers and an almost identical 508k likes on Facebook. Also, 128k subscribers to a celeb-filled YouTube channel.

What they say: “Today, Harper’s Bazaar Group Luxury Travel Director shares her tips for transporting yourself to destinations even when you can't travel…” – holiday website carrier.co.uk shares insights from Lucy ‘Beam me up’ Halfhead.

Verdict: 'Intelligent, inspiring, inimitable' sits proudly on the spine and it’s difficult to argue with that inestimable introduction. Another one of those titles (like Vogue in this Spotlight) that everyone has heard of but many may not have seen, it is a long way from just another high-end fashion wardrobe. Bright, funny, sassy and going straight after the 42-year-old woman reader with a household income of nearly $200,000 (£144,000) that the media kit describes.

Stylist

What’s it about: ‘For women who want more from their world’ – tagline above masthead.

Vital statistics: May 19, 2021 issue: 72 pages of 280mm x 207mm. Matt paper, self-cover, stitched. £1.99 cover price. Combined ABC of 404,660 (July-Dec 2020) all free except for 3,091 paid subscriptions. Published monthly by The Stylist Group from 185 Fleet Street (the wonderful D.C. Thomson building) in London.

Cover: Big picture of ‘TV icon’ and Anne Boleyn actress Jodie Turner-Smith wearing LaQuan Smith coat (no price). Two coverlines about Jodie, whose hair obscures both masthead and strapline.

Content: Well-dressed contents on page five, divided to News, Features, Fashion & Beauty and Every Week before a welcome from editor, Lisa “Mr Tickle arms” Smosarski, talking about her love of hugging. ‘Scoop’ is newsy art, fashion and food and ‘Work / Life’ is an insightful one-day diary. A generous eight pages of full-page fashion shoot pictures and a serious campaign, ‘A Fearless Future’, about violence against women. Cover story is a cute Q&A and there’s even room for travel, columnists, beauty tips and cooking.

Digital: Follow the front-page plug to stylist.co.uk for a packed page of ‘Latest Stories’ plus beauty, fashion etc and ‘the Curiosity Academy’, an innovative take on signing up for classes. Links to signing up for a digital magazine (from 99p per issue), 666k followers on Twitter and 628k likes on Facebook.

What they say: “Liberace. Elsa. Kate Middleton. Elton John. Just a few of the nicknames I acquired when I wore entire white outfits for a week at work. I also discovered I’m quite grubby” – editor Lisa Smosarski comes clean on Twitter about her all-white fashion trend experience.

Verdict: The successful free distribution model was suspended with the advent of lockdown so Stylist now has a weekly digital edition and a monthly print edition, both of which are available via subscriptions. Hopefully, those pick-up customers will be converted to paid-for subscribers to help sustain the quality journalism on display.

Vanity Fair

What’s it about: ‘Vanitas vanitatum’ – enigmatic Latin on US parent’s Twitter page. Translated by oxfordreference.com as ‘vanity of vanities, futility’.

Vital statistics: June 2021 issue: 132 pages of 277mm x 205mm. Gloss paper, heavyweight cover, perfect bound. £4.99 cover price. Combined ABC of 60,183 (Jan-Dec 2020). Published monthly by Condé Nast in London.

Cover: Full page picture of American actress Issa Rae, wearing (amongst other things) earrings by Tiffany & Co (no price), complete with headline. Four other coverlines and a list of names to accompany ‘TV rules the world!’.

Content: Illustrated contents across pages six and eight, touting ‘Vanities’ and ‘Behind the scenes’ as well as the more prosaic offerings of ‘Columns’ and ‘Features’. Vanities turns out to be an eclectic curation of fashion, arts and things to buy before a detailed interview and fashion shoot with cover story Issa. Comprehensive telling of a tragic tale involving Belgian artist Magritte and another serious read about Trump supporters leading to ‘Awards Insider!’, a majestic 60-page section devoted to all things TV, complete with fashion insights: “Hugh Grant wears jeans by Ralph Lauren”.

Digital: Website vanityfair.co.uk is advertised in the magazine, but bounces straight into US site vanityfair.com. A digital rummage leads to vanityfair.com/London with understated, elegant content and links to Twitter with 11.6k followers, and just 3.3k likes on Facebook. @vanityfairlondon at top of page 11 is not Twitter, but Instagram with 37.5k followers.

What they say: “The point is, when you have a news metabolism in your blood as an editor, you don't get it out” – from ‘How Radhika Jones went from English PhD student to editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair’ in an interview with fashionista.com.

Verdict: If you like your fashion, culture and current affairs with a distinctly American slant, there’s no finer destination than Vanity Fair. But while owing much to its US parent, there’s much to admire and enjoy, not least the ‘Proust Questionnaire’ on the last inside page.

Vogue

What’s it about: “Britain's fashion bible since 1916” – from the ‘about’ section on Facebook.

Vital statistics: June 2021 issue: 248 pages of 285mm x 220mm. Quality gloss paper, heavyweight cover, perfect bound. £3.99 cover price. Combined ABC of 190,093 (Jan-Dec 2020). Published monthly by Condé Nast in London (Vogue House, no less).

Cover: Big picture of musician Billie Eilish, wearing white gold and diamond bra chain, £13,090 from Jacquie Aishe. Four coverlines and that delicious masthead, partly obscured by Billie’s head.

Content: Heavyweight advertising up to page 20 followed by a contents page carefully identifying ‘Vogue trends’ before throwing to page 26 to follow up with ‘Fashion & Features’ among other highlights. Then, so much of everything: Editor’s letter, Trends, Interviews, including with a ‘fashion multi-hyphenate’, Arts & Culture special, Beauty, Wellness and Weddings. Showing the way for teenagers are Kate Moss’s model daughter Lila (18) and cover girl Billie (19) with 20 pages of fashion shoot while Emma Thompson (62) also dresses up for the camera. Controversial British ambassador to the US, Karen Pierce swaps international relations for her personal catwalk in an engaging piece about women diplomats.

Digital: Picture-led website at vogue.co.uk has written content galore plus some complementary videos that echo the magazine content. Links to 3.6m followers on Twitter and 3.4m likes on Facebook.

What they say: “I’m a custodian. Vogue existed before I came, and it will still exist when I leave, but I knew that I had to go in there and do what I really believed in. It’s our responsibility as storytellers or image makers to try to disrupt the status quo” – Editor-In-Chief Edward Enninful OBE on the editor’s role in an interview with Time magazine.

Verdict: Strutting its stuff for more than 100 years and now knocking down even more perceived barriers under dynamic editor Enninful, current PPA editor of the year. Everything is beautifully illustrated, with stockists and prices, and with so much to look at and read, this dizzying array is a magazine publishing tutorial – and all for just £3.99.

This article was first published in InPublishing magazine. If you would like to be added to the free mailing list, please register here.