When my magazine addiction was at its peak a few years ago, I subscribed to eighteen (Yes! 18) print magazines per month. And, I loved every single glossy, advertising-laden page. In my next life, I planned to be reborn as a magazine editor. I’m now down to a manageable half a dozen print publications per month as well as RED Magazine which I get online from the U.K. Many of my favourites have been discontinued and I’ve cancelled others that have lost their sparkle and relevance.
I used to love ripping pages out of magazines to save in various files organized by category like fashion, hair, home decorating, etc. Somehow, pinning to a Pinterest file just doesn’t give me the same satisfaction. Nowadays, there’s not much worth ripping out, consequently the paring down of my subscription list. Vogue Magazine finally bit the dust with the September 2021 edition. Alas, cancelling Vogue was overdue.
Every year on BoomerBroadcast I documented the decline of Vogue in an annual critique of The September Issue. At one time, the September issue offered up more than 800 pages of delicious sartorial splendour. Then, about five or six years ago, the content became increasingly more stupid and ridiculous. The September 2021 edition had barely more than 300 pages and was so utterly disappointing, for the first time I did not even waste my time writing a critique. Yawn!
Vogue has made a concerted effort to become more racially inclusive in recent months, the result of considerable shaming by readers and advertisers. They continue, however, to ignore a large portion of their readers, baby boomers, people like me, like us. Ageism is alive and flourishing.
Who’s the boss?
So, who am I to criticize Vogue? It seems that Anna Wintour (is that oh-so-perfect bob really a very expensive wig?), Grace Coddington and their associates have forgotten who they actually work for. The readers and subscribers are the ultimate bosses of Vogue; not the creative people, not the advertisers, not the stylists, and certainly not the high-priced editorial staff and managers occupying lofty offices in 1 World Trade Centre in New York City. We are their entire raison-d’etre.
The Sunday Business section of The New York Times on December 5, 2021, featured a full-page, in-depth review concerning the state of Vogue titled, Conde Nast Knows Faded Glory Is Not In Style. Print publications have taken it in the neck over the last few years as advertisers and readers have moved online. Are hard copy magazines going the way of CDs and flip phones?
I hope not because this boomer still loves spreading the morning newspaper out on the table to read while I enjoy several mugs of strong tea. The same holds true for print magazines and I miss my favourites that have disappeared in recent years. Rarely am I able to rip out pages of things I like anymore.
The NYT speculates that unless Vogue makes radical changes to keep up with the times, they may not have a future. I do not think their problems are solely related to the print medium. Let’s face it, their content has become utterly ridiculous and irrelevant. The fashions advertised and features modelled by anorexic teenagers on the pages of Vogue are a joke.
According to the NYT piece, “audiences no longer look to legacy brands to tell them what is fashionable.” No kidding! Condé Nast’s U.S. business has been losing in excess of $100 million annually. The creatives and stylists may get off on arty spreads of wafer-thin nymphets wearing weirdly unwearable garbage in exotic settings with chickens on their shoulders, but we readers can find nothing to inspire us or aspire to. Why bother?
I’ve been railing against Vogue for years now. Contrary to what the executives think, they are not the boss. We are! And we do not like what we see. No matter how the bean counters juggle the reporting and financial allocations, cut overheads and move the various pieces of the puzzle around, most of the magazines like Vogue just do not “get us”. They are too elitist. They look inward and ignore their readers and what we are looking for.
I miss my monthly mag habit. As I toss barely read issues into the recycling bin I mourn the glory days when they had something to offer. Where are the imaginative fashions for streetwear, special occasions, and casual weekends? Where are the new designers with an eye to the customer, not the abstract art world? I get most of my fashion inspiration now from online blogs, individual retail boutiques, and websites, not the old standbys like Vogue.
The New York Times took another swing at Vogue on December 24, 2021, in an obituary by Phyllis Messinger for Grace Mirabella, former editor of Vogue in the 1980s. Mirabella, who passed away at the age of 92, was recognized for her “accessible approach” to fashion. The NYT obit summed it up perfectly with Mirabella’s own words: “Fashion had degenerated into a self-reverential game full of jokes and pastiches that amused the fashion community enormously and did nothing at all for the woman shopping and trying to find something to wear”. I could not have said it better. Thank you, Grace, for speaking from heaven!
Baby boomer women love fashion. We finally have the time and money to indulge in fashion. Take care of us, your real boss, your customers, then, the numbers will take care of themselves. If you won’t listen to me, perhaps The New York Times article will get through to you. Vogue? Are you listening? It’s me, Lynda, your boss.
Read the full New York Times article here:
Read my annual rants about the September issue:
What this boomer learned from the September 2020 issue of Vogue magazine