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Condé Nast’s Vogue Business takes B2B fight to WWD, Business of Fashion

January 29, 2019

Vogue Business brings Condé Nast International back into B2B. Image credit: Condé Nast International


After backing off from business-to-business publishing mid-decade, Condé Nast International is funneling the authority of its Vogue brand to return to B2B and compete with a name it seemingly sold off in haste: Women's Wear Daily.

Condé Nast International today officially launches a new B2B endeavor titled Vogue Business, looking to get back into the B2B sector as it sees the industry’s recent growth and advantages of having both business- and consumer-facing sources of fashion information. While competing head-on with WWD and London-based Business of Fashion, the new publication has taken a different approach to launch, starting with a print newsletter and moving to a digital Web site after gauging feedback from readers.

“Times are changing and what was seen as right yesterday is seen as wrong today,” said Samir "Mr. Magazine" Husni, director, professor and hederman lecturer at the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi's Meek School of Journalism & New Media. “I believe Condé Nast was quick to sell WWD and the other B2B publication thinking, like the majority of the industry, that there is no future there.

“However, with a strong brand like Vogue, which should be the main cornerstone for the Vogue Business and not who is editing it, it should be able to play a major role in the fashion and luxury industry,” he said. “Magazines in 2019 are much larger than their ink on paper editions. They are much more than content providers — they are experience makers.

"And to be an experience maker you have to be in business and there no business like the fashion and beauty luxury business.”

Mr. Husni is not affiliated with Condé Nast International, but agreed to comment as an industry expert. Condé Nast International was reached for comment.

Strictly business
With Vogue Business, Condé Nast International enters a media market falling over each other to inform readers of the ins and outs of fashion, beauty and luxury.

WWD, now owned by Penske Media, has stuck to its trade publishing roots by documenting every move in the fashion and retail business, from acquisitions, moves and fashion shows. However, even Penske struggled to keep the print newspaper going on a daily basis or weekly basis and recently gave up the print ghost in favor of an online-only presence for WWD.

Meanwhile, Business of Fashion challenged WWD's coverage with its launch in 2007 and carved a niche for itself with a steely-eyed focus on fashion and its personalities, as well as an education component.

Others in the space include New York-based Luxury Daily, which is the world's leading publication covering the luxury business, focusing on strategy, tactics and execution, as well as the overall business of luxury with fashion as one of the top sectors along with retail, hospitality, automotive, watches and jewelry, media, and leather goods and accessories.

Among the digital-oriented titles, Glossy has created a following for its fashion and beauty coverage, while there are several newsletters, sites and blogs such as Fashionista and Italy's Pambianconews that feed a growing appetite for fashion and beauty coverage, both B2B and B2C.

Vogue Business can count on its parent company's first brush with business publishing to throttle it to faster market acceptance.

From 1999 to 2014, the media group owned Fairchild Fashion media, which included a number of fashion and business publications including Women's Wear Daily and Footwear News. In 2014, Condé Nast made the decision to sell off the entity when it foresaw a dip in the B2B market.

Condé Nast also owned glossy business publication Portfolio, but shuttered that title in 2009 after only two years.

Now as the B2B media industry shows staying power,Condé Nast is getting back into the game.

Vogue Business will use the well-known name of Vogue to help strengthen the brand of its new editorial endeavor.

The publication will be based out of London, but its target audience is global. It will operate as a separate entity from the main Vogue brand, with an independent editorial team and its own distinct voice.

Former Fashionista editor in chief Lauren Indvik will take the reigns as editor of Vogue Business.

The publication launched with a printed newsletter, hoping to start off with a captive audience. Prior to its start, Vogue Business worked closely with all of the Condé Nast markets to ensure the creation of a truly global product.

Vogue Business will officially launch online today, supported by journalists from 29 different markets.

The publication will focus on trends in the fashion industry, including consumer-facing marketing as well as in-company design, manufacturing and talent without stooping completely to the level of a hardcore trade publication.

The global market, “from climate change to geopolitics,” says Vogue Business, will also be included, with cultural elements that impact retail as well as technological and scientific advancement.

Vogue Business started with a newsletter before the launch of the Web site, when traditionally new titles begin with an online presence first,” said a Condé Nast spokesperson in a statement to Luxury Daily. “This way we were able to talk and shape Vogue Business with feedback from readers.

“A good example is that we now have trends and innovation editors on our team as a result of reader feedback. We will be taking a highly visual and data-driven approach by tapping into our heritage of visual storytelling.

“We’ll stand apart from text-heavy B2B publications with impactful data-driven visualizations and photography, telling stories in a design-driven way.”

Back in fashion
The Condé Nast company as a whole has seen huge swings and business changes this year and years prior, even as the biggest companies have struggled to navigate the new media landscape.

Prior to the Vogue Business announcement, Condé announced it will officially combine its Condé Nast United States and Condé Nast International divisions in the near future. Along with the merger, CEOs of both groups will be stepping down, (see story).

Condé Nast is also asking readers to invest in its digital content as it plans to expand a paywall strategy to its entire portfolio of U.S. brands.

After seeing success with metered paywalls for three of its titles, Condé Nast anticipates that readers will be willing to pay for the digital extensions of all of its brands, including Vogue and Architectural Digest.

The media landscape has become more challenging in recent years due to the rise of digital consumption and subsequent drop in advertising revenue, making this move a potential solution and subscription driver for Condé Nast (see story).

Experts and readers alike will be tuned in to see how Condé Nast will manage in the future, and what the fates of Vogue Business as well as its competitors will look like.

“It is time for CNI to jump back on the train and regain the position the company once held,” Magazine Innovation Center’s Mr. Husni said. “I do believe that focusing on the brands rather than who is leading the brand will bring CN brands back to a very healthy competitive environment.

“It may not happen overnight since the ‘lost years,’ but with a powerful and known brand like Vogue, nothing should be impossible, given the right execution,” he said.

Mickey Alam Khan contributed to this story