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Women's fashion monthlies are enjoying an upsurge in retail pages as department stores increase the use of portfolio advertising.

Hachette Filipacchi Magazines' Elle, Fairchild Publications' W, Hearst Magazines' Harper's Bazaar, and Conde Nast Publications' Vogue are no strangers to eight-, 10- and even 24-page ad units. But retail pages are growing even more in '97 as giants including Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Dayton Hudson ratchet up their marketing programs with this type of long-form advertising.


"What's happening is that retailers are getting better at supporting their advertising," said W Publisher Stephanie George, whose magazine had 600 retail pages in 1996 and will offer a Saks program in this year's March issue. "Retailers, who were never the best marketers, are getting smarter."

Dayton Hudson is moving promotional funds to a national ad program, including its first-ever portfolio in magazines this year, to make a "dominant statement," said Michael Francis, senior VP-marketing. The company will run a minimum six-page portfolio in Harper's Bazaar, The New Yorker and Vogue in March and September.

"As part of our overall balancing of our marketing plan, we are reinvesting in magazines," Mr. Francis said. Portfolios feature brands such as Baccarat, Chanel and Hermes.

Mr. Francis, however, said the retailer, whose business is concentrated in the Midwest, doesn't plan an extensive national campaign. Instead, it plans to push its own store magazine, Today Special Edition, mailed to 1 million customers.

Also expanding its buy is Saks, which will run portfolios in both Harper's Bazaar and W in March. Nordstrom has discussed plans to run cosmetics portfolios with Harper's Bazaar, which expects to offer multipage ads for both Prada and Timberland Co. in September.

Neiman Marcus, perhaps the oldest portfolio advertiser among retailers, has run an annual "Art of Fashion" section in Harper's Bazaar for five years. The store first ran a 24-page portfolio of men's fashions in W in late 1995 and will run another in the March issue.

Harper's Bazaar VP-Publisher Jeannette Chang reports retail ad pages at her title were up 47% to 90 pages for 1996 in large part because of portfolio advertising.


Some advertisers, such as Saks Fifth Avenue, have crafted detachable sections for women to take shopping with them. Vogue Marketing Manager Jim Winters said advertisers are increasingly requesting them.

Mr. Winters said the magazine's overall fashion pages were up 22% in 1996 to 1,001. Retail pages, counted as pages bought for department store retailers, grew only slightly to 166 pages in 1996.

Elle Publisher Carl Portale said retail pages, closely defined as coming from advertisers selling products from a store, were up more than 35% to 148 pages.

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