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Multicultural Fashion Title Published Only Four Issues

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NEW YORK ( -- Suede Magazine, the highly touted multicultural fashion publication, was put on hiatus today by the Essence Communications Partners division of Time Inc. The April issue, its fourth, will be its last.
'Suede' made a splash but couldn't lift itself out of the red.

"We knew this wasn't sustainable," said Michelle Ebanks, group publisher of Essence and Suede. "It was consuming more time and resources than we thought [it would require] to get to a level of equilibrium."

Flamboyant but not profitable
Suede made an outsized splash in the magazine world, thanks to its fresh positioning, bold design and the flamboyant fashion presence of its statuesque editor in chief, Suzanne Boyd. A high-profile party for the magazine's "Fab 40" issue this month at Manhattan's Skylight Studios was mobbed by an A-list crowd that included rap stars Missy Elliot and Mos Def. But all was not well. One insider this week privately expressed serious concerns with the title, saying sales to consumers were very slow.

Ms. Ebanks comments were a testimony of having to grapple with a fashion magazine's demands for high production values despite having a relatively low circulation level (its rate base, or circulation guaranteed to advertisers, was 250,000). Internally it was hoped a retooled Suede will resurface, with a gentler cost structure.

"We couldn't grow it fast enough to get it to a level that makes the costs reasonable," Ms. Ebanks said.

Fate of 46 staffers
She said the company and Ms. Boyd were trying to place the title's 46 staffers within Time Inc. or Essence "so the team stays close." Ms. Boyd could not be reached for comment.

In January, Time Inc., a division of Time Warner, announced plans to acquire the 51% of Essence Communications Partners it did not own; the deal is expected to be finalized next month. Ms. Ebanks said the decision to suspend Suede was Essence's.

Suede, which launched with a fall 2004 issue, was slated to publish nine times in 2005.

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