Freedom Magazines buys 50% stake in fashion title

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Freedom Communications is making a multimillion-dollar investment in Mode, forming a partnership with founding Publishers Julie Lewit-Nirenberg and Nancy LeWinter.

The deal will allow the title, aimed at women who wear size 12 and up, to build circulation while exploring expansion to other media platforms, including new media, newspapers and TV.


As part of the deal, Freedom has bought out the original 50% stake invested by Stanley Harris through Pantheon International, a subsidiary of Harris Publications. The deal creates a new entity, Lewit & LeWinter/Freedom, with Ms. Lewit-Nirenberg and Ms. LeWinter, veteran magazine publishers, owning a combined 50%.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Freedom Magazines has been rapidly expanding its holdings through partnerships over the past two years, investing among others in young men's title P.O.V. and the CurtCo Freedom Group, whose publications include Entertainment @ Home.

Started with World Trade and Latin Trade two years ago, Freedom Magazines' stable now includes 21 business and consumer titles.

"Freedom is very enthusiastic about its magazine division and is prepared to spend more money than we had originally set aside in this arena," said Sam Wolgemuth, Freedom Magazines president.


As for the latest partnership, Mr. Wolgemuth was interested in Mode because of its clearly defined target and devoted readership.

"They're proving that this concept has a great deal of power with advertisers and readers," Mr. Wolgemuth said. "Mode is a precedent-breaking magazine. It doesn't treat these women like there is something wrong with them . . . We bought that concept first."

Mode, published quarterly this year, is speeding up its expansion plans. The magazine was set to increase frequency to six issues next year but will instead publish 10, with a plan to go monthly by 1999. Its rate base was set at 300,000, though the magazine currently claims a paid circulation of 360,000.


"We had a very strong beginning. Our expectations were met and surpassed with the first issue," said Ms. Lewit-Nirenberg. "With Freedom, we will be able to grow the magazine faster and make it as strong as it can be."

A direct mail test for subscriptions is planned for the end of the year. The title already has 40,000 subscribers who signed on after the first issue hit newsstands, paying the unusually high price of $18 for three issues.

"We want to have profitable circulation," Ms. LeWinter said.

Mode research indicates the market for women who wear size 12 and above is 62 million.


The partnership is already exploring TV projects, a Web site and a syndicated newspaper column, Ms. Lewit-Nirenberg said. The name may be licensed for fashion shows and other ventures as well.

Mode's third issue, in September, carried more than 100 ad pages, up from 75 in the first issue. The magazine has attracted such advertisers as Revlon, Saturn Corp., Saks Fifth Avenue, Dana Buchman, Lancome, Nordstrom, Hublein, and Timex Corp.

Ad rates are $11,213 for a b&w page and $15,525 for a color page.

Copyright September 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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