Fashion Magazines' March Issues: See the Top Five Titles (and the Two With Declines)

Single-Digit Percentage Gains Across Most Brands

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When it comes to women's fashion magazines, the rich got richer this March.

Vogue's February 2014 issue.
Vogue's February 2014 issue. Credit: Vogue/Annie Leibovitz

Ad pages edged slightly upward in all but two of women's fashion magazines' important March issues, which trail only September in importance to publishers as designers introduce new collections every spring. The gains seen in these March issues are also a salve to the magazine industry, which had seen a 4.3% decline in ad pages across all monthly titles through their February issues, according to Media Industry Newsletter.

Here's a look at the five top women's fashion magazines in terms of March ad pages. It's the same top five, in the same order, as last year.

Vogue, 470 ad pages, up 3%. Once again, Vogue leads the category with the most ad pages this March. "The growth continues to come from our core areas of support: luxury, fashion and beauty," said Susan Plagemann, Vogue's publisher. Beauty, both in the prestige and mass categories, also fueled the gains, along with non-endemic categories, such as technology, according to Ms. Plagemann.

InStyle, 367 ad pages, up 2%. Time Inc.'s InStyle turned in its largest March issue in the magazine's 20-year history, the company said. That marks its 26th straight month of year-over-year ad-page growth. "Driving our success is Ariel Foxman's editorial," InStyle Publisher Karin Tracy said in an email, referring to the title's editor since 2008.

Elle, 342 ad pages, up 3.3%. This year marks Elle's largest March issue since its record-breaking 2008 edition and its highest revenue for a March issue, according to Hearst, the magazine's owner. Growth stems from Elle's luxury business, a Hearst spokeswoman said.

Harper's Bazaar, 334 ad pages, up 1.3%. Last year's No. 4 for March ad pages is No. 4 again, posting its highest-revenue March issue, according to Hearst, along with the magazine's largest March issue to date. The issue includes a 10-page insert from Nieman Marcus.

W, 230 ad pages, up 10%. Conde Nast's W ranked fifth among the fashion magazines this March, a position it also held last year. Beauty advertising grew 59% in this issue compared with last year, according to a W spokeswoman.

Two other Hearst titles posted small gains. Marie Claire closed its March issue with 209 pages, good for a 1% increase. The small uptick makes it Marie Claire's largest March issue in its 20-year history, a Hearst spokeswoman said. Sibling title Cosmopolitan will have 144 ad pages this March, up a page from last year, when it posted a 20% gain, the company said. Revlon returned to Cosmo after a three-year hiatus from the magazine, with a five-page spread, according to a Cosmo spokeswoman.

Conde Nast's Glamour closed its March issue with 170 ad pages, up 8.2% from the issue a year earlier. The magazine also turned in its strongest first-quarter performance in five years, up 12% in ad pages, according to a Glamour spokeswoman. And Conde Nast's Allure saw a 10% gain in ad pages over last year, with 135 ad pages.

Two magazines in the category posted losses. Time Inc.'s People StyleWatch saw a 24% drop in March ad pages, to 131.5, after publishing its largest March yet last year at 172 ad pages.

And Conde Nast's Lucky posted a 14% loss from the prior year, with 88 ad pages. Facing sharp declines in ad pages the last several years, the magazine last year trimmed its frequency from 10 issues to 12 and introduced a redesign under the guidance of Conde Nast Artistic Director Anna Wintour.

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