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Fashion Magazines Turn in Record-Breaking September Issues

Biggest Issues Ever for Elle And InStyle

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Fashion magazines are reporting gains in ad pages for their critical September issues, enough to break records at some.

The poster for 'The September Issue,' the 2009 documentary about Vogue
The poster for 'The September Issue,' the 2009 documentary about Vogue

With ad sales now closed for its upcoming September edition, for example, Hearst Magazines' Elle magazine says it will publish its largest issue to date, with 442 ad pages, a 12% gain from September 2012. Sibling Harper's Bazaar will also have its largest issue yet, notching 397 ad pages, good for a 10% boost. And Hearst's Marie Claire said its September will top all of its previous issues with 246 ad pages, up 13.5% from last year.

Through the first half of 2013, magazines saw an overall decline in print ad pages of 4.9%, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. But print advertising remains vital especially for fashion and luxury brands, publishers say.

"As much as we are in a digital world, where the audience really aggregates in a big way is print," said Michael Clinton, president-marketing and publishing director at Hearst Magazines. "The consumer proof point continues to be that the print brand is driving it all."

Fashion magazines' September issues, where many designers roll out new lines, are their largest all year.

According to Mr. Clinton, the ad-page increases in the September issues owe partly to improvements in the U.S. economy and troubles elsewhere. "There's a lot of money coming in to the U.S.," he said. "In the global luxury/fashion world, there's a growing perception that there is growth in the American market because the Euro Zone is still struggling and China is leveling off."

At Time Inc., InStyle is also heading for its largest September issue yet, with 455 ad pages, a 3% gain from last year. Core categories of beauty, luxury and fashion all grew by double-digit percentages, InStyle Publisher Karin Tracy said.

Integrated digital and print packages have also become more common, Ms. Tracy said , with InStyle.com breaking 17 new brands this quarter. "We've seen an increase in integration," she said.

Even with record-breakers from Hearst and Time Inc., however, Conde Nast's Vogue once again led the way across the category with 665 ad pages, a 1% uptick from last year. It topped the magazine's 120th anniversary issue last September but still fell well short of the 2007 September issue, when it published a whopping 727 ad pages.

Sibling title W posted a 17% gain with 288 total ad pages, the magazine's largest September since 2008. Conde's Glamour, which will carry 224 ad pages this September, saw an 18% boost.

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