Could Digital Printing Excite Vogue's Next Generation of Readers?
Little kids wait for Santa Claus to deliver toys. Grown men wait for their fantasy draft to open. Me? I wait for the mailman to drop the September issue of Vogue magazine into my mailbox. We all have our thing.
When I was young, I would read Vogue at the library. What a sight, me in my glasses, braces and bad home perm, reading the preeminent journal of fashion and beauty. Later, I would use the earnings from my first job to finally become an actual subscriber. I was always planning my exit from small town, South Carolina, and the pages that celebrated over-the-top couture, the New York lifestyle and risk-taking glamour spoke to me. When I read Vogue, I would think, "I want to go to there." (Hat tip to Liz Lemon.)
Vogue is a print publication that matters. It matters to its readers. It matters because it influences design and it drives retail sales. Vogue matters so much that the actual production and publication process matter. This year's September issue made news because it was the first to have a black model on the cover, shot by a black photographer. A print publication that is driving social progress thanks to Beyoncé, Tyler Mitchell and Anna Wintour.
I bristle at clutter and sentimentality, but I keep my September issues. In my guest room, I display a copy of the largest September issue ever - 2007 with Sienna Miller on the cover. It clocks in at 820 pages.
When our newly adopted rescue, Bob, suffered from hemorrhagic gastroenteritis all over my 2017 September issue - the 125th anniversary issue! - I was not pleased. Yes, it was my fault for placing it on the floor while I cleaned my desk, but there was Jennifer Lawrence's face, covered in a bloody and barfy mess. Y'all know paper does not do well with blood and barf. I was bummed at losing my collector's edition ... and Bob is getting nowhere near this year's copy.
The September 2018 issue is thick, with tons of ads for fashion I can't afford. Pages of Mario Testino photographs of angular models, with skin care regimens that I marvel - and scoff - at. Vogue resonates because it's aspirational and it's totally ridiculous. While many fashion magazines have evolved, changed logos and focus, or simply gone out of business, Vogue has remained.
I might be a part-time fashion voyeur, but I always have my analyst hat on. At IDC, we have predicted publishing as a big growth application for digital, with nearly 90 billion pages coming off digital presses by 2022. And the current issue of Vogue got me wondering how digital print might add something to the September issue, especially considering how the digital embellishment and finishing segments are taking off. I love what I'm seeing in terms of neon and metallic inks, too.
As a magazine subscriber, I don't love onserts because they feel like a fake-out. And Vogue needs to move on from having me wonder which cover version will arrive in the mail. Been there, done that. But I do love a good insert, especially one that goes beyond coated, heavy stock (and especially ones without perfume samples).
How about perforated paper dolls that come in multiple versions and combinations? Collect them all! Dress your dolls in clothes inspired by the designers! Give me a piece printed to feel like the puffy coats from Gucci. Or detailed, tactile embroidery from Dolce & Gabbana. A pop of Neon pink from Marc Jacobs. Metallic spikes from Valentino. Soft touch coating for Ferragamo.
Readers are already pumped for the September issue. Why not give us some extra "oohs and aahs" that feel special and very different from what we have seen before? Why not get the next generation excited to be Vogue readers? If you give me paper dolls, I am going to share them with my daughter. I mean, she isn't going to wear actual Chloé anytime soon, so a printed version will work just fine.
Amy Machado is a Research Manager for IDC. Ms. Machado's research focus also includes the production printing market as well as the package printing market, with an emphasis on how the DX economy is making digital technologies a large growth opportunity. She is a graduate of Clemson University.