CHANGES AT AUSTRALIAN VOGUE: Kirstie Clements is out at Vogue Australia after 13 years as editor, to be succeeded by the current editor of Harper’s Bazaar Australia, Edwina McCann, Condé Nast’s Australian licensee NewsLifeMedia said Wednesday.

In news that has shocked the Australian fashion industry, Clements was dismissed and escorted from the headquarters of News Limited’s lifestyle division in Sydney earlier in the day, along with two other senior NewsLifeMedia editors: lifestyle group editor Mark Kelly and Richard Waller, editor of home and lifestyle title InsideOut.

Over 20 years with the magazine in total — Clements first joined Vogue as a receptionist in 1985, before moving up through the ranks and then briefly working as deputy editor of the newly-relaunched Harper’s Bazaar in 1998 — she was seen as a steady hand on a title that witnessed four different editors in as many years in the late 1990s.   

Clements’ dismissal seemed all the more perplexing, given that Vogue fared better than its competitors according to the most recent Australian Audit Bureau of Circulations figures for newsstand sales: 51,013 copies in the six months to December 2011, down 2.3 percent on 2010. Compared to a 7.9 percent drop at Harpers Bazaar (54,158) and 5.2 percent decline at Marie Claire (100,128). Total fashion magazine sales fell 4.9 percent year-on-year.   

Still, Vogue remains the lowest-selling Australian mainstream fashion magazine. Vogue’s overall circulation in the year to March 2012 slumped 9.3 per cent to 361,000, while InsideOut’s circulation fell 9.5 percent in the December half to 45,300 copies and readership fell 7.8 percent to 130,000.

“The perception was that she was doing a good job and the magazine has been a very consistent performer in what has been a pretty challenging marketplace,” said media analyst Simon Davies from OMD. “But it’s a tough environment and the magazine marketplace is very different to what it was even two or three years ago. There’s a lot of pressure on circulation, there’s a lot of pressure in terms of having cross-platform offerings and there’s a lot of pressure from advertisers in terms of expectations.”

Wednesday’s announcement comes six months after the appointment of News Limited’s new chief executive officer Kim Williams, the former head of the Foxtel pay television network and two months after the appointment of new NewsLifeMedia chief executive Nicole Sheffield, the former general manager lifestyle channels at XYZ Networks.

McCann — who recently oversaw the appointment of a popular Style Network of personal style bloggers to the Web site — commences her new role in early July and will be responsible for the Vogue Australia brand across both print and digital platforms. According to a statement, McCann will helm a new “holistic” initiative that is designed to “bring to life ‘one Vogue’ in Australia”.

“Vogue is an outstanding brand. Harnessing our multi-platform offering through Vogue Australia, our extensive digital solutions and events will change the style and fashion media landscape in Australia. Our centralised multi-platform approach will create unparalleled editorial and marketing solutions for all Australian women” said Sheffield.

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