Abstract: Authenticity and Customer Knowledge in Fashion-Based Periodicals: Condé Nast, Inc., and the Development of a Class-Based Strategy in the British Magazine Market between the Wars

Howard Cox and Simon Mowatt


By the early twentieth century, the leading publishers of magazines in Britain had developed a business strategy that was focused almost exclusively on the building of large circulation weeklies. These periodicals provided the firms in question with a strong platform through which to serve the advertising needs of the manufacturers of mass-produced commodities, along with the growing band of large-scale retailers that sold such items. This obsession with developing cheap titles, however, meant that Britain's leading periodical publishers found it expedient to treat their readers as a single homogenous mass. Under these circumstances, it is perhaps not surprising to find that the pioneer of audience research among magazine publishers in Britain was the American-based firm Condé Nast. Drawing on materials from the firm's archive in New York, we look in this paper at the way in which Nast's development of class publications (most notably the fashion magazine <em>Vogue</em>), which were aimed