MIAMI’S STYLISH TRIO
Byline: Georgia Lee
ATLANTA — For fashion media, Miami, the self-proclaimed American Riviera, is in a league of its own.
The town’s renaissance has spawned three fashion publications — slick, stylish monthlies with distinctive cultural flavors.
They are Ocean Drive, Fashion Spectrum and Miami Metro, and with a heavy fashion/beauty/lifestyle focus, each is carving a niche in an increasingly competitive environment.
“This is not a place for amateurs,” said Nancy Moore, publisher and editor in chief of Miami Metro, a revamped version of the old South Florida magazine. “Until the mid-Eighties, there was migration out of Miami, but over the past decade, it has emerged as a cutting-edge city of the future that naturally attracts media attention.”
Despite the negatives — devastating hurricanes, lurid events such as the Gianni Versace murder and ongoing crime and image problems — Miami still is a cosmopolitan city and continues to draw people with money.
South Beach has become synonymous with celebrities, photographers and models. And upscale retailers such as Bal Harbour Shops, north of Miami Beach, cater to an affluent international set.
The local celebrity scene, coupled with a growing retail and entertainment community, has provided fertile ground for fashion editorial and advertising.
The first big publication to exploit Miami’s rebirth was Ocean Drive. Launched six years ago, the oversized, splashy book focuses primarily on South Beach.
“For our first issue, we approached Versace, sitting at the News Cafe. Of course, he’d never heard of us. But we managed to get a three-hour interview with him, and he offered us Claudia Schiffer on the cover,” said Jerry Powers, president and publisher. “That got everything started.”
In 1997, ad sales reached $7 million, and profits doubled, said Powers. The January 1998 magazine was an impressive 500 pages, and circulation is 70,000, including a new worldwide distribution deal with Warner Publishing, a division of Time-Warner, that accounts for 27,000. A four-color full-page ad is $7,900.
Each cover features a supermodel such as Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer or Niki Taylor, shot by photographers who have included Herb Ritts, Francesco Scavullo and Patrick Demarchelier. There is no cover copy; the model is the message. Fashion, health and beauty make up 30 to 40 percent of the editorial content. The remainder is given to celebrity profiles, gossip and social coverage.
Advertisers are from the fashion, retail, alcohol, travel and restaurant industries. Fashion coverage, although a growing area, is intentionally more middle-of-the-road than that of some publications, showcasing the locale or the models as much as trends.
“Our approach is palm trees, blue skies, great fashion,” said Powers.
Ocean Drive just signed a deal with Barry Diller for a one-hour weekly show on the Miami subsidiary of the USA cable network, to make its debut Saturday. In keeping with the celebrity focus, appearances and fashion shows by designers such as Tommy Hilfiger or Nicole Miller are key promotional tools.
Fashion Spectrum, launched two years ago, has been compared with Ocean Drive, but claims a broader focus.
“We offer more to read, more substantive coverage, rather than just ‘look who’s here,’ ” said Lori Capullo, editor in chief, who added that editorial-to-advertising ratios are never less than 50 percent. “And rather than just focusing on South Beach, a 15-block area, we try to cover areas of Miami that are missing in other magazines.”
Profiles highlight figures such as Pat Riley, coach of the Miami Heat basketball team, and local politicians. Fashion coverage strives to be forward-thinking, and includes areas beyond clothing. Rather than clothing from local retailers, Fashion Spectrum shoots manufacturers’ samples ahead of season. Drawing from Miami’s more than 20 modeling agencies, Fashion Spectrum also hires New York models in the off-season. A feature called Model Citizen spotlights a local resident in clothing from her favorite designer.
“Our name, Fashion Spectrum, implies a broad range of subjects — from high-end cars to beauty to clothes for men and women,” said Gail Feldman, director of advertising. Among the advertisers are such international names as Chanel, Prada, Armani, Hermes and Guerlain.
Feldman said the magazine was “close to breaking even,” and projected profitability within the next two years. Its circulation is 50,000. A four-color, full-page ad is $2,500.
“We know that’s extremely inexpensive, but we thought we had to be competitive in the beginning as a startup publication,” said Feldman. “Rates would go up in the future.”
Miami Metro, the reincarnation of the 10-year-old South Florida magazine, made its debut in January. It added size, weight and full-bleed photography, as well as a harder-hitting attitude, tackling issues such as racism and local political corruption.
“Miami lacked a true city magazine, in the tradition of Boston, Chicago and New York publications,” said Felicia Levine, executive editor. Despite its grittier approach, fashion and beauty coverage has increased, with sections that highlight trends and include a 10-to-12-page calendar and shopping guide.
“We take fashion seriously, as we would an investigative report,” said Levine. “We’ve made it more cutting-edge, less generic.”
Miami Metro retained its former South Florida advertising base, which included St. John, Chanel, Cartier and Absolut, and picked up accounts such as Banana Republic, Nationsbank and Winn Dixie. With a subscription base of 12,000, total circulation, including hotel, doctor’s offices and newsstands is 50,923. A four-color, full-page ad is $7,000.
“Ocean Drive is successful by playing up Miami’s star-studded cachet and playing into the hands of the New York fashion community that identifies with South Florida,” said Anne Moncreiff, marketing and entertainment columnist for the Miami Herald. “Fashion Spectrum, which has a wealthy owner, is going for strong distribution. And Miami Metro is going in the right direction as a classic city magazine format that has yet to be exploited here.”
Moncreiff added that while the growth of Miami’s fashion/photography/model scene has flattened, it is still strong enough to support three fashion publications.
“The real potential growth market is in cable television and the music industry,” she said. “None of these magazines is really doing that yet.”