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Women's magazines:
the monthly glossies and slicks

Women's magazines - the monthly titles are often described as glossy, or 'slick'. These pages coverr the main magazines and their histroies. They had a busy time around the turn of the century, but the sector calmed down as women's magazine publishers focused on launching weeklies. Perhaps one of the women's magazines will experiment with increasing its frequency, because titles such as Queen and Vogue were weekly or fortnightly until the 1980s. (Historical sales figures.)

In 2005, women's glossies saw total circulations in their sector increase by a fifth in the first half of the year (see table of women's magazines sales figures). The boom can be put down to several factors.

First, there were two big launches - Easy Living from Condé Nast and Emap’s Grazia. The latter aims to create a weekly glossy sector. Its Italian inspiration has thrived for decades, but it is 20 years since women's magazines such as Vogue in the UK were published fortnightly (at least for part of the year). IPC tried a similar glossy strategy with Riva in 1988, but this only lasted for six issues.

Second, there was aggressive price-cutting, for example Marie Claire dropped its price to £2 in the autumn of 2004.

Third, was the relaunching of women's magazines such as Eve (which was also sold by the BBC to Haymarket, but later closed) and the advent of dual format titles sparrked by GlamourMarie Claire and Cosmo now come in A5 ('handbag' size) as well the large A4 formats.

Next, was the extensive use of cover mounts, particularly on women's magazines in the summer months (see list).

Finally, there was the growing popularity of women's magazines aimed at the 35-plus age bracket, with Good Housekeeping and Woman & Home standing out here. All the fashion magazines, HFUK's Elle, IPC's InStyle, and Conde Nast's Vogue and Tatler recorded sales increases.

Of course, there have been losers, with women's monthly magazines aimed at 20-somethings losing sales to the celebrity weeklies and weekly glossy Grazia (which put on 10 period-on-period increase to reach 170,783 even though it put 20p on its cover price to £1.70). Conde Nast's Glamour saw its second six-monthly circulation fall, down 5.5% year-on-year to 585,984. Its rival slicks, Cosmopolitan, Company, Marie Claire, New Woman and B all recorded sales falls also. HFUK's B suspended publication in March 2006.

This page links to profiles of women's monthlies, many of which are known as glossies or slicks because of their high production values and upmarket editorial. Some weeklies - such as Grazia and Riva - are included because of their attempts to establish themselves as weekly glossies. The Observer's two female supplements are included as examples of the competition faced from newspaper slicks (other examples being You from the Mail on Sunday, which is now sold on Tuesdays, the Sunday Times' Style, the Telegraph's Stella). Women's monthly magazines - past and present - are arranged alphabetically on the following pages:

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Top five women's monthlies (end 2005) Back to top

Title Publisher Frequency ABC figure*
Glamour Conde Nast monthly
585,984
Good Housekeeping The National Magazine Company monthly 468,579
Cosmopolitan The National Magazine Company monthly 461,610
Yours EMAP Esprit monthly 421,438
Marie Claire European Magazines (IPC/Marie Claire) monthly 371,444
Sources: ABC *Jan-Jun 2003
 

Women's monthlies: details and sales Back to top

Title Publisher Launch date ABC sales
Jul-Dec 2005*
19 IPC SouthBank 1968 closed 2004
Aura Parkhill 2000 closed 2001
B Hachette Filipacchi UK 1997 (Attic Futura) Publication suspended March 2006 with sales of 150,536
Bare John Brown Publishing 2000 closed 2001
Chic Northern & Shell 1993 (Hamerville Magazines)

closed

Clothes Show BBC Enterprises / Focus / Redwood 1988-97 closed 1997 (150,494)
Company (UK) National Magazine Company 1978 283,429
Cosmopolitan (UK) National Magazine Company 1972 461,610
Easy Living Condé Nast 2005
182,146
Elle (UK) Hachette Filipacchi UK 1985 (Murdoch/Hachette)
208,132
Essentials IPC Media 1988
118,853
Eve Haymarket Publishing Group 2000 (BBC)
163,671
Family Circle IPC Media 1964 (ITP)
112,597
Frank Wagadon 1997
closed 1999
Glamour (UK) Conde Nast 2001
585,984
Good Housekeeping (UK) National Magazine Company 1922
468,579
Grazia (UK) Emap London Lifestyle 2005
170,783
Happy Northern & Shell 2005
n/a
Harpers Bazaar National Magazine Company 1929 -1970; 2006
102,863
(renamed)
Harpers & Queen National Magazine Company 1970-2006
102,863
Honey Carlton/Reed/IPC 1962
merged with 19
in 1986
InStyle UK IPC Media 2001
196,857
Marie Claire (UK) European Magazines (IPC/Marie Claire) 1988
371,444

Mirabella (UK)

Murdoch Magazines/News International 1990
closed 1991
More!
(fortnightly)
Emap London Lifestyle 1988 
277,862
New Woman Emap London Lifestyle 1988
231,066
Nova Newnes/IPC 1965
closed 1975
Nova 2000 IPC Media 2000
closed 2001
O:
(quarterly)
Observer supplement 2005
free supplement
Observer Woman Observer supplement 2006
free supplement
Options Carlton/Reed/IPC 1982
closed 1999
Over 21 Spotlight Publications 1972
closed 1988
The Passion   1997
closed
Prima National Magazine Company 1986 (Bauer)
331,715
PS Dennis 2000
closed 2001
Psychologies Hachette Filipacchi UK 2005
96,012
Queen, The Stevens Press 1861
62,200 in 1962 merged 1970 see Harper's & Queen
Real Essential Publishing 2001 (Bauer)
183,042
Red Hachette Filipacchi UK 1998 (Emap/Bauer)
219,689
Riva Carlton/Reed/IPC 1988
closed
Scene Spiro Group 1997 closed 2000
She National Magazine Company 1955
closed 2011
( 156,674 in 2005; 144,583 at start of 2011)
Tatler Condé Nast 1709
88,189
Vanity Fair National Magazine Company 1950-1972
closed
Vanity Fair UK Condé Nast 1991 
95,304
Vogue UK Condé Nast 1916
214,348
What To Wear BBC Worldwide 2001 
closed 2004
Woman & Home IPC Media 1926
335,922
Woman's World IPC  1990 (Carlton)
closed 1990
Working Woman Wintour  1984
closed 1986
Yours Emap Esprit 1984
421,438
Zest National Magazine Company   Aug 2003
97,428

*Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC)

Women's monthly magazines - back to top

Clothes show cover spring 1988 Selina Scott
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