The marriage is potentially combustible since Fairchild's business publications -- which in-clude Daily News Record, Footwear News, Home Furnishings News, Sportstyle and Women's Wear Daily -- cover the ups and downs of the advertisers that fill the pages of Conde Nast's Glamour, GQ, House & Garden, Mademoiselle and Vogue.
Conde Nast Chairman S.I. Newhouse Jr. is reportedly set to pay Walt Disney Co. the extraordinarily high price of $650 million for a company valued by analysts at $350 million to $400 million.
The crown jewel for Conde Nast is one of Fairchild's three con-sumer titles, W, which has emerged as a cocky challenger to Elle, Harper's Bazaar and Vogue. Fairchild also publishes Jane and Los Angeles Magazine.
Conde Nast and Disney both declined comment on any aspect of the deal. Hearst Corp. dropped out of the bidding for Fairchild last week as the price escalated.
Putting WWD and its siblings under the same roof as Vogue and its siblings could prove thorny if advertisers believe the editorial independence of any of the pub-lications is compromised, said rivals and industry observers.
"The key question is how Conde Nast will use the trade vehicles in tandem with the con-sumer vehicles," said an executive at a competing company. "They will have to keep them very separate. They'll need not just a glass wall but a brick wall erected between them."
"The model could be they run them the way McGraw-Hill [Cos.] runs its trade titles and Business Week," as separate divisions, an executive at another publisher said. "It can be done." But the executive said this particular problem is more challenging for one reason: "Fashion is bitchier."
'WWD' REVENUE AT RISK
Observers also point to a potential loss of revenue for WWD in the form of ad dollars from other publishers. Hearst Magazines, Hachette Filipacchi Magazines and Time Inc. all currently buy space in WWD with some regularity to tout their magazines to the fashion community.
"We spend a fair amount of money in WWD, but I'm not sure I want to put money in Si's pocket," one publisher said.
And others wonder whether Conde Nast can resist the potential synergies of the combination even if it means designers will scrutinize WWD reviews of their latest lines in tandem with the layout they just got in Vogue and the number of ad pages they bought in both books.
"They'll probably integrate them and squeeze everyone into running advertising," said one rival, underscoring the concern among competing publishers about Conde Nast's fashion-world dominance.
AN OPTIMISTIC ADVERTISER
At least one fashion advertiser, though, is optimistic about the future of Fairchild under Conde Nast.
"From my perspective, it's not a negative," said Margot Lewis, VP-marketing and public relations for Esprit de Corp. "Conde Nast understands the business and has always supported the industry. This just means they'll be able to support the industry in a bigger way. For me, it's like one-stop shopping with everyone under one roof."
The one-stop shopping, she hopes, also means advertisers will be able to get