Luxe launches are a metaphor for the economy

Mirrors, windows, crystal balls.

These are all metaphors that have been used to describe magazines and how they provide a glimpse into the culture and society of our times.  That’s one reason people save or collect print issues.

But the business of magazines can be a reflection as well.

At a time when so many print magazines are ceasing entirely, or shifting to digital-only to stay alive, one category continues to launch glossies with confidence.

They have names like DU JOUR* and BLOOMBERG PURSUITS*.  Many specifically target well-heeled New Yorkers, like NEW YORK SMASH/HAMPTONS SMASH, and some serve affluent readers in other locales, like THE SOCIETY DIARIES in Texas, or the soon-to-launch NS: MODERN LUXURY FOR THE NORTH SHORE in Chicago.

All of these titles share one important characteristic: they appeal to both wealthy readers and high-end advertisers.

The trend also extends to a number of new or recently resurrected shelter and fashion titles, such as DESIGN HUNTING, TIME STYLE & DESIGN* and ELLE ACCESSORIES, which are riding the wave of luxe lifestyle magazine launches.

It’s not difficult to draw a parallel between the current economy and the current state of the magazine industry.  While Sak’s and Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus are holding up well, Walmart and Target are lagging.  Top financial earners have weathered the economic storm and are in good shape; for others the recovery has been elusive.

And if we’re judging the health of the economy—and by extension, the middle-class—by magazine launches, then we’ll have cause to celebrate if we begin to see new titles targeting readers with average incomes.

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