The effect of Social Media on the Fashion Magazine Industry

This case study will analyse how social media is playing in shaping professional identity in the fashion magazine industry. It will look at both the nature of the profession itself along with the professionals that work in the industry. It will analyse whether social media facilitated change in the nature of the relationship between industry professionals and their clients/audiences, looking particularly at the people, tasks and industry specific factors relevant. While looking at the ongoing change that has occurred in this industry due to media, the case study will also look at the history of the fashion magazine industry and the changes that have occurred over time.


Fashion magazines are made up by numerous people working on different sectors of the magazines, take Vogue for example which is a very well-known fashion magazine. In Vogue, there is an editor in chief, along with editors coordinating different sectors such as fashion, art, beauty and creative directors, plus countless writers for their articles along with photographers and stylists and many more employees (Vogue, 2017a). These jobs are all very fast paced in nature and require immense organisation and efficiency as they have a deadline every month to push out another magazine.

According to Christopher Breward (1994, 1), fashion magazines started in the 1870’s in England, in his paper for the Journal of Design History he states that “by 1875 the women’s magazine industry was well established. Having rejected the more literary and elitist model of late eighteenth-century feminine literature, nineteenth-century publishers turned to new forms ‘designed solely to entertain, being composed of fiction, fashion and miscellaneous reading of a superficial kind’” (Breward 1994, 1). The first sign of media changing this industry was back in the 1980’s when “fashion media such as cable television began to compete with magazines” (Fashion Art Diary, 2009). Then in 2000 is launched – an online fashion site – along with several others. This then heightened the need for change in the industry to keep current with new technologies their audience and clients are using. Internet technologies first developed in the 1960’s, Web 2.0 began in the early 2000’s encouraging companies to employ the networking properties of the internet (Cassidy, 2017). Web 2.0 shifted the audience into “dynamic interaction and participation where users generate content themselves” (Cassidy, 2017) as David Gautlett states “Mass Media limited the opportunities for ‘ordinary’ people to create and share, to put it simply it was ‘sit back and be told.’ However now in the 21st century: web 2.0 see explosion of tools for everyday amateur creativity – the ‘making and doing’” (Gauntlett, 2011). This audience interaction with the content they are viewing is major when looking at fashion magazines and how social media has affected them.

There are many forms of new media, Lievrouw and Livingstone (2005) described them as “information and communication technologies and their associated social contexts.” These can be broken up into three groups; artefacts, practices and social arrangements. Artefacts look at the infrastructures, devices services and platforms. Practices are about the activities, uses, communication and information/knowledge. Social arrangements involve institutions, organisations, laws/policies and politics/economics (Cassidy, 2017). Much of new media works so well due to convergence, this allows them to be across multiplatform combining computing – digital media and information technologies, communication – networks, artefacts and practices, and content – media and information (Cassidy, 2017). When fashion magazines started out they relied on the money made from the advertisements they would produce and the people buying their product, now this has shifted. “Social media has become the avenue for magazine publications to disseminate news and reach audiences. And as advertisers begin putting more and more money into digital verticals, magazine publishers are upping their digital game too” (Engagement Labs, 2015). Cosmopolitan came out on top, “dominating the magazine social media landscape taking the top eValue scores on Facebook, Twitter and the second spot on Instagram, behind US weekly” (Engagement Labs, 2015). The term eValue refers to a measurement that analyses the overall social media of the brand, looking at; engagement, impact and responsiveness (Engagement Labs, 2015). On Instagram cosmopolitan uses a more fun creative approach to their posts due to the nature of the social channel. Whereas when cosmopolitan posts to Facebook they use videos and links to their online articles, the content of which varies from significant issues surrounding themes such as self-acceptance, LGBT awareness and many others to fluffy articles along the lines of celebrity gossip (Engagement Labs, 2015). It is important to cater for each media platform that the brand shows their content on separately.

“Networked publics are publics that are restructured by networked technologies. As such, they are simultaneously (1) the space constructed through networked technologies and (2) the imagined collective that emerges as a result of the intersection of people technology, and practice” (Boyd, 2011). Also, involved in this is the term public sphere, this is where we “find out what’s happening in our community” (McKee, 2005), it also allows us a space to add our voice to discussions, playing a part in society. “while networked publics share much in common with other types of publics, the ways in which technology structures them introduces distinct affordances that shape how people engage with these environments. The properties of bits – as distinct from atoms – introduce new possibilities for interaction. As a result, new dynamics emerge that shape participation” (Boyd, 2011). What this means for the fashion magazine industry is that they no longer have a singular voice that they project through articles within their magazines. This, in turn, has widened their network and audience, the industry has had to adapt to social media and utilise as many platforms as possible. The magazines have needed to accommodate for this and many have been changing their websites to allow for ease of access when on a smartphone and other devices, along with making sure their content has more multimedia involved (Print in the Mix, 2014). In addition to this several magazines now offer the choice to purchase online subscriptions and/or the printed version. Taking Vogue as the example again, the digital version costs $19.99 whereas the printed version costs $69.95, however, the recommended option is the print and digital subscription at $79.95, as this is the option that saves the most money (Vogue, 2017b).


In conclusion, they have had to create many more online accounts and pages to keep up with the growing social media platforms that are emerging. The industry has also had to tailor their posts to each platform to suit with the audiences that are using the platform. Furthermore, they have adapted to change to their growing public sphere and be accountable for everyone that can see their posts and share with others, this has changed from how they ran previously by communicating only with people who purchase their products. Overall while the fashion magazine industry is undergoing many changes and has been for the last several years, it is by no means becoming irrelevant.







Reference List:


Boyd, Danah. (2010). “Social Network Sites as Networked Publics: Affordances, Dynamics, and Implications.” In Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social     Network Sites (ed. Zizi Papacharissi), pp. 39-58.


Breward, C. 1994. “Femininity and Consumption.” The Problem of the Late Nineteenth-     Century Fashion Journal, 7 (2), 1.      fashion-magazines&seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents


Cassidy, Elija. 2017. “KCB206 Social Media Self and Society: Week 1 lecture notes.”         Accessed March 20, 2017.      _133419_1&content_id=_6696662_1


Engagement Labs. 2015. “How social media has given life to the magazine publishing         industry.” Engagement labs blog, July 24. Accessed March 23, 2017.       magazine-publishing-industry/


Gauntlett, David. 2011. Making is Connecting: the social meaning of creativity from DIY and knitting to YouTube and Web 2.0. Cambridge, UK.


Lievrouw, Leah and Sonia Livingstone. 2005. “Introduction to the updated student edition.” In The Handbook of New Media: Social Shaping and Consequences of ICTs. 2nd ed, 1- 14. London: Sage Publications.

McKee, Alan. 2005. The public sphere: an introduction. Cambridge University Press.   

Print in the Mix. 2014. “Magazine Industry Trends and Challenges.” Accessed March 23,   2017.


RKM. 2009. “The History of the Fashion Magazine.” Fashion Art Dairy blog, November 19. Accessed March 23, 2017.


Vogue. 2017a. “Contact us.” Accessed March 23, 2017.


Vogue. 2017b. “Subscribe; April 2017.” Accessed March 23, 2017.   


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