There was a time in which Vogue Magazine was the leading source of fashion news. Fashion and fashion culture simply did not move without Vogue’s stamp of approval. So why hasn’t the magazine been able to persevere in the last few years? Aside from the obvious decline of print media, something else has stalled. The last Vogue magazine I purchased was about two years ago. Even then it was beginning to lose its flavor. The subject matter of the articles was boring, except for the cover article about Beyoncè. In its over 100 year history, they only had its first Black cover photographer in 2018. This was only because Beyoncè required full creative control. Surprisingly to no one, they have had zero after. Vogue’s deterioration can be summed up into three reasons. First, the publication has failed to keep up with the times. Second, it seems to have lost both creativity and originality. Finally, it has aged out of its core demographic.
Stuck in the Past
While the fashion industry does have a strong lineage of elitism, Vogue always felt accessible. It used to be fun. Now, with the wealth disparity between classes being the largest it has ever been, the publication just feels bland. Rich people don’t wear head to toe couture on a regular basis anymore. They are getting their style tips from the young and the poor. There are no longer designers that make their bread and butter making gowns. We saw that with the demise of Zac Posen’s beloved studio. The heartbeat of fashion, like it or not, is hip-hop culture. Its ghetto fabulosity, matching the vintage Chanel and Birkin bags with flashy ready-to-wear. Its Billie Eilish and her sportswear aesthetic. Unfortunately, Vogue is still packaging the same couture as it was 10, even 20, years ago. The issue? Instead of looking timeless, it is stale. People are craving diversity in every other facet. For some reason, Vogue did not think that applied to them. It used to be cutting edge, discovering and sculpting up and coming designers. The magazine has not even evolved with fashion.
No Creativity or Originality
Prior to 2010, Vogue was the end all be all of fashion magazines. The covers used to blend fashion and art effortlessly. The best example of how far the publication has fallen is the recently leaked Kamala Harris cover. The horrendous photo has a wrinkled green and pink backdrop. Kamala is uncomfortable and smiling awkwardly. Worst of all, her outfit is ill-fitting. All of these faux pas could have been ignored if they looked intentional, like art. Instead, it looks like the photographer could not be bothered. It gives off a Sex and the City “Single and Fabulous?” vibe, and at least that was supposed to be funny. How could this be the cover of Vogue? However, upon looking back at the covers for the last three years, they are all lacking creativity. There is no artistic value or even haute couture to be found. Even the colors are all the same. In comparison, almost any other Vogue country is pushing the boundaries of art meeting fashion. American Vogue has begun to blend in with all of the other magazines on the shelf.
Aged Out of its Demographic
According to Google, Vogue’s target age range is 20-40. Vogue’s editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour is 71 years old. While the age difference in and of itself does not have to be an issue, neither Anna nor the publication have even tried to stay relatable to the younger generation. Vogue is starting to appear comparable to Vanity Fair, who’s target age is 42 and older. Vogue has failed to grasp the youth of 20-somethings. Both Cardi B and Lizzo were aged tremendously by the fashion and styling choices on their covers. Both ladies are similarly dressed and the photos are equally lackluster when viewing side by side comparison of the two covers. In order to relate to a 20-30 year old at 70, one must continue to immerse themself in the culture. Otherwise, they will lose the audience altogether. At 20, fashion is fun and self expression, 30’s are about refining that style created in the prior decade. Finally at 40, style is established but the fun is finding pieces from the younger generations to expand the look. Vogue will need to find a way to incorporate these details soon or it will go in the direction of Victoria’s Secret.
So how does Vogue improve? For starters, it hires a younger staff. The mix of younger and older staff is a mutually beneficial environment. Secondly, more people of color. Different voices in the articles keep the reader interested past the beautiful imagery. Give the cover celebrities more creative control of their images. There is simply no reason why a 26 year old should look 40 for the sake of a magazine cover. Furthermore, the star’s personality should not be stifled either. Glitz and glamour is what the reader turns to Vogue for. The art of couture was showcased well previously throughout the pages and that seems to be lost now. Finally, the subject matter needs to cater to their entire demographic. Maybe a 20 something cannot relate to every single article in the magazine, that is OK. However, what is not acceptable is the cover story being the only piece of relatable content. Vogue can turn the publication around if they want to.