BEIJING — Condé Nast International is to debut a bilingual Hong Kong edition of Vogue, the company announced, a title which will be the 26th addition to the Vogue family and tasked with finding a unique voice next to editions for China and Taiwan.
The publication, which will be produced under a license agreement with Rubicon Media Ltd. and led by publisher Desiree Au, will encompass online and off-line media and is targeting a launch date early next year. The news was first broken by the South China Morning Post.
The print version is to be published in traditional Chinese, in contrast to Vogue China, which is published in simplified Chinese. Vogue Hong Kong’s web site will be bilingual in traditional Chinese and English.
“We are delighted to launch Vogue in Hong Kong. This magical city has long been a magnet for shoppers and a center of taste and luxury in the heart of Greater China,” Jonathan Newhouse, chairman and chief executive officer of Condé Nast International, told WWD. “With the launch of its own Vogue, Hong Kong truly steps up to the premier league of fashion excellence.”
The publication is set to vie with Hong Kong editions of Elle and Harper’s Bazaar, both of which are part of the South China Morning Post Group-Hearst venture. SCMP Group, since purchased by Alibaba, began working with Hearst in 1984 when it began publishing the Hong Kong edition of Cosmopolitan, followed by Harper’s Bazaar in 1988, and Elle in 2012, although the latter has been in the market for three decades.
Hong Kong is globally one of the biggest hubs for luxury spending, but the market is driven by the mainland Chinese tourist shopper. The magazine launch will have to contend with what many say is the city’s faded economic and soft influence, and limited population of 7.4 million.
Advertising dollars overall have migrated across the border, and so have would-be magazine cover stars. Cantonese actors and singers dominated the Asian entertainment landscape in decades past, but now the hottest celebrities and creatives are often South Korean, mainland Chinese, or because of the globalized nature of the Internet, international stars. Meanwhile, Shanghai Fashion Week has established itself as the most-watched platform for emerging Chinese designers, whereas Hong Kong Fashion Week functions as a trade show.
Circulation data for existing Hong Kong fashion magazines show modest figures. According to the magazines’ rate cards, monthly circulation for Elle Hong Kong is 45,000 copies, Harper’s Bazaar Hong Kong 32,000, Cosmopolitan Hong Kong 58,000, and Ming’s, the lifestyle magazine offshoot of Ming Pao newspaper, 30,000. In comparison, Vogue China’s numbers are at the 1.6 million mark, surpassing even American Vogue’s 1.2 million.
From a creative standpoint though, Vogue Hong Kong will resonate with readers yearning for a voice that represents a distinctly Hong Kong point of view — a city that is culturally and linguistically distinct to mainland China, but has been increasingly overlooked for a larger market.
Davena Mok, a longtime Hong Kong fashion publicist who founded the agency, A-Vibe, said the entrance of a new magazine title is “exciting” but noted that “the luxury fashion media market is quite established here.”
She also pointed out that many in Hong Kong, “which is quite an international market, are already huge fans of Vogue U.S., Vogue U.K. and even Vogue China.”
In the announcement, Au, who was previously publisher of Time Out Hong Kong and throughout her career wrote for newspapers including the South China Morning Post and the International New York Times, underscored her vision for Vogue Hong Kong would “nourish the creativity and individuality which exists in the city today.”
She continued: “The arrival of Vogue has been a long time in the making, and we are thrilled to now bring it to the region.”