Most of us have a something of a love-hate relationship with fashion magazines. I think I *loved* them until I was in my early 30′s and noticed that much of the clothing in the magazines was way out of my price range and/or nothing that I could wear to work. Not to mention that I was starting to notice my “ageing out” of the fashion mag demographic.
Boy! If I thought I was ageing out of the fashion mag demographic when I was in my 30′s, what the heck am I doing reading the things again in my 50′s! Well, turns out that that I re-developed an interest in fashion because my innate fashion sense was turning towards the frumpy. Now, though, I can look at the mags with a bit more of a selective and critical eye than I did years ago, when the photos might have sent me into a spell of pathetic moaning about my perceived fatness. I know now that it’s not necessarily me with a fatness problem inasmuch as it is the models in the magazines with, in many instances, dysfunctional thinness problems.
Case in point: when the editors at Vogue author an article about full-figured women and consider a 34D to be a full figure…well….let’s just say they’re not living in the same world as the rest of us.
I know that disappointment in fashion magazines isn’t an age demographic thing. In fact, even the one of the writers at Lovelyish, a blog for the 18-24 set, feels fashion magazines are losing relevance to the audience they are supposed to be serving.
So, I’ve come up with a list of Five Ways Fashion Magazines are failing the same people they say they are serving (and these are in no particular order):
1. No real, practical fashion information : It’s all ads, ads, ads. Then, pretty photos. A few designer names thrown in here and there. What does that tell us about fashion? Not a heck of a lot, really. Some of the things we never see in the stores, and some we wonder why we see them in the stores. Articles written like advertising copy. Lots of fluff and no substance.
2. Models are too thin or too young (or both): A lot of young women aren’t stick thin. A lot of older women throw their hands up in disgust looking at all those puffy little mini-skirts, wondering what’s left for us to wear. Let’s see lots of different kinds of women, of different ages, and ethnic backgrounds, and hairstyles, and….and….
3. Too many celebrities! Ok, when I’m reading People StyleWatch, I expect celebrities. But I really do not care about (fill in the celebrity name) and her struggle with weight, or her struggle with (fill in the blank.) Celebrities are people who are paid to look good. We are NOT paid to look good. Celebrity lives are as irrelevant to ours as a dog’s life is to a cat’s. This is where Glamour is doing something different by publishing more compelling stories about the lives of real women, such as this story of four generations of prostitutes in one woman’s family, and how her mother stopped it.
4. Clothes and accessories are too expensive: a $360 pair of Kate Spade pumps? Really? I’m lucky if I can afford an $89 pair of Jessica Simpsons. Maybe this is all about “aspirational marketing,” but what are we supposed to “aspire” to? To be rich? To be able to have a credit card with enough of a credit limit that will allow us to spend thousands and thousands on clothes? Really? Um, no. By pushing us into debit, or making us feel like losers because we can’t afford $360 pumps is not helping us.
5. No Fashion Industry Information: Fashion is a billion dollar a year industry that makes most of those billions off of women. Yet we know very little about which companies are publicly traded on the stock market, and which are privately owned; which store chains have changed fashion leadership in their marketing departments or even at the CEO level; why a manufacturer may have moved its factory from China to India, and if this will affect prices in the store; and any number of business-related news that has a direct effect on prices, styles, colors, materials, etc. that we see in the places we shop. Heck, we don’t even know which stores have instituted green initiatives or who have stopped the odious practice of shredding returns or other items that don’t sell (rather than donating them to charity.) It’s our dollar–and our heads are not so pretty that we can’t understand industry information. We’re just not getting it in our magazines.