Instagram/BRITISHVOGUE

Released in 2009, The September Issue is both one of the most iconic fashion films that has ever been made, and a central part of my teenage-hood. The film follows Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue, creating the 2007 September issue of the magazine, which is often hailed as the year’s most important and influential fashion bible. Looking at a range of this year’s September issues, however, seems to suggest a lot of change at the heart of the industry since 2007, the year the documentary was shot. The 840 pages of that record-breaking issue have shrunk to under half and the seemingly unmoderated extravagance has left the covers.

“Those who can’t afford to buy into the traditional industry are able to offer their own perspectives because of digital media”

It’s a shift that has grown from a broadly changing industry. The film allowed a window into an exclusivity that has since begun to dissipate in some capacities. The clothes are as expensive as ever, but social media and the blogging industry have created platforms from which the fashion world can be viewed by a far broader audience. In 2009, the careers of fashion bloggers like BryanBoy and Tavi Gevinson were only just beginning. Since then, the former's followers have hit the millions, and Gevinson's blog transformed into the phenomenon that was Rookie, an online publication which pushed forwards the voices of other young people and was accompanied by a print publication. Alongside Instagram, which was founded only a couple of years later, this industry democratized fashion. Those who can’t afford to buy into the traditional industry are able to offer their own perspectives because of digital media.

“Both Beyoncé’s cover and Meghan Markle’s collaboration for British Vogue’s 2019 issue suggest that the answer is in the more holistic corners of the industry”

To relate this to the September issue; democratisation changes financing and form in print. Digital media now acts as the most lucrative advertising for companies who used to premiere major campaigns in this issue. The reach of influencers surpasses that of magazines, so their popularity with advertisers does too. This is a financial shift that positions influencers as forces for change and direction in the industry.

INSTAGRAM/VOGUEMAGAZINE

The democratisation is perhaps best exemplified in the 2018 American Vogue issue with Beyoncé on the cover as photographed by Tyler Mitchell. The release of her alleged contracts by sources revealed her complete creative control over her outfits, choice of photographer and article. Beyoncé’s creative influence and power is wide-reaching but nonetheless the suggestion of her power at Vogue, a publication renowned for keeping a tight hold on editorial control, seems representative of a need for continued relevance that will require the magazine to do more than it had to in 2009. If trends can be followed on Instagram where is the place for print? The fantasy previously prized in these magazines seems to have taken a backseat to public desire for representation and human connection in these spaces.

INSTAGRAM/BRITISHVOGUE

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Both Beyoncé’s cover and Meghan Markle’s collaboration for British Vogue’s 2019 issue suggest that the answer is in the more holistic corners of the industry. The Markle cover highlights various strong women and their action towards change, some not necessarily particularly linked to the fashion industry. It presents a definitive shift away from the models who have adorned the covers in the past. There is clear demand for greater social consciousness in the print industry in response to digital forums that began to create for diverse spaces a decade ago. The September Issue is having to look beyond couture collections and fantasy to sell. Anna Wintour’s editor’s note this year highlights the importance of the September issue in setting industry values rather than trends, seemingly emphasising this new direction.

Whether the issue will ever be as important as it once was seems doubtful but in shifting to address changes in the industry as a result of digital media, print may at least stay of value to its audience.

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