Overlooking the cafeteria at Hearst Tower, Seventeen editor in chief Michelle Tan and her associate publisher Stacy Nathan flip through the magazine’s September issue featuring Iggy Azalea on the cover.
The importance of the issue is (at least) twofold. Not only is it Tan’s first real issue as editor in chief, but it also marks Seventeen’s move to reclaim fashion advertisers’ attention and dollars.
Seventeen editorial director Joanna Coles, who also serves as editor in chief of Cosmopolitan, hired Tan last year to replace Ann Shoket, the editor who helmed the teen magazine for seven years. Cosmopolitan’s publishing director and chief revenue officer Donna Kalajian Lagani would oversee business direction for Seventeen, which was struggling at the time with a 9 percent slide in September advertising pages to 103. The magazine, which has steadily logged about 2 million in total paid and verified circulation since 2010, according to the Alliance for Audited Media, has seen steep newsstand declines. In 2014, Seventeen had a 30.1 percent decrease in single-copy sales to 154,610.
Declines at retail are symptomatic of all print publications, but such stark drops are related in part to Generation Y and Millennial readers’ move to digital, as well.
Aware of that challenge, Tan said she’s focused on “deep-dive” stories for print and works with Seventeen’s digital team to provide smaller, newsier reads for the Web.
One area where Tan has pushed to explore is young fashion designers, and she’s tried to do that through the magazine’s partnership with The New School’s Parsons School of Design. Tan flipped through a feature in the September issue that showcases the work of recent Parsons grad, Lucy Jones.
“She designs clothes for people living in wheelchairs,” said Tan, who explained that she wants to depict “diversity” in the pages of the magazine, and touch on current issues about identity, race, menstrual cramps and what to wear to prom.
In the fashion pages, Tan has upped the magazine’s photography and made a point to provide tidbits on the model in the shoot and the designer whose clothes she is wearing. Seventeen has also begun featuring diffusion lines with designer collections — which dovetails into Seventeen’s grab for fashion dollars.
“Seventeen has always been known as a brand that has started trends and since Teen Vogue came into the marketplace, I think they’ve been positioned a little bit more as the fashion brand in the space,” said Nathan. “But, I think we forget it all started with Seventeen. This is a way to recapture some of that credibility.”
The issue, which goes on sale Aug. 11, includes ads from Clinique, PacSun, Express, Chanel and a peel-back cover for subscriber copies from Sephora.