Conde’s Chairman On Fashion’s Future

The future of magazines is on everyone’s mind these days, from the Chairman of Conde Nast to fashion blogs. Style.com ran a four-part series featuring commentary on the subject from such heavyweights as Hedi Slimane and Olivier Zahmn, and blog Business of Fashion has been adding to conversations pulled from the Financial Times‘s Business of Luxury Summit, hosted in Los Angeles. In its latest installation, BoF highlights points made by Jonathan Newhouse, Chairman of Conde Nast, during a speech at the luxury conference. Newhouse offered musings on new media versus old, and the future of the publishing and fashion industries.

He talked about how GQ “was the first magazine to place its entire printed product on a mobile device and to charge a price. It is selling 20 thousand copies without any promotional support.” Still, compared with the average print circulation of a major national magazine, there’s no doubt GQ’s digital sales leave something to be desired. Beyond magazines, Newhouse touched on luxury fashion and the digital sphere’s impact on the industry. “Will not broader availability impact [luxury fashion’s] capacity to charge high prices and command a high profit margin? These are questions which the luxury industry has yet to squarely confront,” Newhouse said of the inevitably less ‘exclusive’ nature of luxury fashion now that high-fashion brands are being forced to embrace the masses via the internet.

“The media is changing with technology, but the dream of luxury remains something magic and timeless,” Newhouse added, somewhat optimistically. One fashion brand facing this conundrum right now is Burberry, a brand that’s “trying to remain understood by its regular customers and reaching at the same time a new, modern target. They want to give an impulsion, to modernize the brand while protecting their authentic and timeless heritage, which can be quite complicated and tricky,” says Luxury Social Media. So far, Christopher Bailey and Burberry seem to be negotiating that line successfully, with youthful collaborations and a healthy 3-D obsession, but what the eventual outcome of such ambitious embracing of the digital world could mean for luxury fashion, which has long prided itself on its exclusivity and tradition, remains to be seen.

Photo of Burberry SS11

Newhouse Quashing Rumors of Wintour’s ‘Vogue’ Departure

imageMon dieu, can it be? Mais oui, says Gawker, who yesterday broke the news that life may indeed soon be imitating The Devil Wears Prada. Rumor has it French Vogue’s editrix extraordinaire Carine Roitfeld may have her perpetually kohl-lined eyes on Anna Wintour’s position at American Vogue, plus Condé Nast chief’s Si Newhouse’s approval to boot. Given the recent rumors of Wintour’s imminent departure, not to mention the poor performance of the rag and its offshoots (Men’s Vogue, Vogue Living, and Fashion Rocks), the shake-up seems absolutely plausible. Or … is it?

Disappointingly for this writer who is an enormous fan of all things Carine, Newhouse told the Huffington Post today that there is “no truth” to the rumor. He added, “this is the silliest rumor I’ve ever heard.” That seems unlikely on the scale of rumor silliness — but even if Madame Roitfeld doesn’t set up shop immediately, the writing’s on the wall.