(The following article first appeared in the 11/18/92 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative newspaper Downtown)
Although most people who still read Vogue magazine are women, Corporate Men profit from the sale of Vogue on the newsstands and the sale of advertising space in Vogue—the same Corporate Men who own Parade. The Newhouse Dynasty has owned Vogue since 1959, when Samuel Newhouse I laid down over $5 million in cash to purchase Vogue and the other magazines published by Conde’ Nast at the time—Glamour, House & Garden, Bridal Home and Vogue Pattern Book—from the British media baron Cecil King’s Daily Mirror group/Amalgamated Press conglomerate. At the time he acquired Vogue, Newhouse “denied having any intention of adding other magazine properties, `unless we feel they could be combined with Vogue,” according to the March 29, 1959 issue of the New York Times.
Vogue was launched in 1892 by Mr. Arthur Turnure as a weekly fashion magazine for upper-class women. After marrying a member of the super-rich Coudert family in 1902, Mr. Conde’ Nast became interested in buying Vogue. In 1909—three years after Vogue founder Turnure died—the then-36-year-old Nast purchased Vogue from Turnure’s sister-in-law, at a time when Vogue had a readership of about 14,000 “that included some of the richest and most socially prominent members of New York society,” according to The Man Who Was Vogue: The Life And Times Of Conde’ Nast by Caroline Seeebohn, and Vogue’s yearly ad sales were $100,000. Two years after buying Vogue, Nast bought the 24,000-circulation House & Garden magazine. And Nast also began publishing Vanity Fair magazine in 1913.
Under Nast’s ownership, Vogue became a bi-weekly magazine and its circulation rose to 141,000 in 1928, while its profits increased from $5,000 in 1909 to $650,000 in 1928. Its editor after 1914 was Edna Alloway Chase.
During the Roaring ‘20s, especially, Nast amassed a fortune from his Vogue, House & Garden and Vanity Fair publishing operation and he owned a Long Island mansion, Manhattan real estate and much corporate stock. Before losing much of his money when the stock market crashed in 1929, Nast was personally worth about $16 million.
Under Nast’s ownership, Vogue’s editorial section was specially influenced by its advertisers. As The Man Who Was Vogue noted: “Department stores and manufacturers who spent large sums of money advertising in Vogue expected a generous quid pro quo in the editorial section of the magazine.” (end of part 1)