The History of the September Issue

Though print magazines may be losing sales, each September, magazine printing services face a huge job. Once upon a time, a cheap catalog printing of the Sears Roebuck offerings for the year was the highlight of magazine shopping. Now,the September Issue of magazines marks the beginning of the fashion year, and sets the tone for the eleven months to come. Each year it seems to get bigger. Here is a look at how this issue became as important as it did, and how it has changed with technology.

How September Became the Fashion Month

For socialites, fall marks the time when the events return,and the need for formal wear over the next few seasons increases. This has been the case since the beginning of Vogue, in 1893. Women were returning from their summer trips to Europe, full of ideas of what the Parisians and Italians were wearing. They were eager to see how those fashions would translate in New York. Vogue, even in the early years, were ready with a fall preview, though their photos were of women in dress shops, trying on the latest fashions, as fashion models would not become a career for several decades.

Early magazines were often purchased on news stands and from magazine sellers. The guarantee of a subscription was not the most popular way in which they were sold, so the September return of social events to New York made a lot of sense. Even when summer trips to Europe morphed into second homes in the Hamptons or on Cape Cod, fall seemed to be the natural time to begin the fashion season. It marked the most drastic change in clothing, gave enough time to have Paris’ spring collections in the book, and fit with the social and purchasing schedules of residents. Once the standard was established, it was adopted by all fashion magazines. Advertisers began to see their opportunity to be showcased, and were happy to purchase ads from more and more aggressive marketing departments. Over the past few decades, the book has evolved from just a preview of the upcoming fashion week and fall fashion musts into large books close to a thousand pages. Magazine printing services churn out about a hundred pages of copy with the remaining seven or eight hundred pages as ads.

Changing With Technology

As online media tries to replace cheap catalog printing, there are a number of features that print magazines are adding to keep up with the digital world. This year’s Vogue has a number of links to their Editor, Anna Wintour doing video commentary on certain topics. It also features fashion opinions on some technological topics, like an eight-page spread on the new Google Glass. Is this the way of the future? Anna Wintour has certainly become more famous now that her caricature graced the pages of The Devil Wears Prada, and the documentary The September Issue has highlighted her role as Editor in Chief at Vogue. But is this reason to crave all Anna, all the time? Issue sales will tell in time. Until then, there are thousands of pages of September issues to page through and enjoy. Happy reading.

Written by Glenn Cummins

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