Departures — the storied luxury magazine for wealthy American Express card holders — will soon be appearing once again in mailboxes. The company has produced a hefty, 200-plus-page print edition, its first physical magazine since shuttering print operations amid the pandemic in early 2021.
The new issue focuses heavily on travel; the cover feature is a sumptuous tour of Italy, from Rome to Naples to Stromboli, photographed by Cedric Buchet and written by Christopher Bollen. And travel makes up more than half of the 40-plus advertisers and close to 100 ad pages, marketing a surfeit of luxury brands including Hermès, Gucci, Tiffany & Co., Cartier, David Yurman, Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental and private jet charter service Wheels Up.
The magazine — which arrives in mailboxes after an unprecedented post-pandemic summer travel boom — is intended as both reference guide and keepsake. Printed on premium paper stock that has become all but extinct in magazine publishing, the cover is uncluttered by headlines and features a photograph of model Bianca O’Brien (also on Vogue’s September issue) on an Italian street wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat and Magali Pascal shorts.
In her editor’s letter, Skye Parrott, who joined Departures as executive editor after the magazine transitioned to an all-digital format, notes that the print format “lends itself to different, beautiful ways of telling stories. We love making things, and many of us love to hold an actual object when we read.”
Some of the pieces in the issue — which include a profile of motorcycle-riding, leather-clad architect Peter Marino (who is reimagining the Tiffany & Co. flagship on Fifth Avenue) and features about Lima, Peru and painter Kehinde Wiley’s compound in Senegal — are truncated versions of digital features. And everything in the magazine can be found on the digital site, including via “read more” QR codes at the end of each print story.
In its heyday, Departures, which was run for 17 years by legendary editor Richard David Story, transcended its elite readership (the magazine, like the special print edition, is mailed to American Express Platinum card holders) to a position of influence within the New York magazine scene. And its ability to attract luxury advertisers eager to target wealthy consumers made it enviably profitable among its print competitors. One estimate put its revenue at $50 million annually during its peak. So the current special print issue could be interpreted as a test balloon for additional forays into print. A representative for American Express declined to comment on the specter of additional future print issues. But when Departures exited its publishing deal in 2021, shifting to its current digital-first format, executives did not rule out print entirely.