Why I Think Ads Are the Best Part of Fashion Magazines

You may have heard: In terms of ad buys, magazines aren't doing so hot at the moment—at least compared to the golden age of publishing at houses like Condé Nast and Hearst Corporation. And while it's nothing overly disastrous, industry insiders are definitely taking note. 

But in me, the magazine advertising industry has at least one undying ally. I've long been obsessed with magazine ads, the glossy full-page spreads tucked between the editorial pages of my favourite fashion books. Not only can these images frequently stand alone as works of art (think: Joan Didion for Céline, or this Karlie Kloss shot for Jason Wu), but the ads are also making a statement beyond the wares they're selling. 

While the editorial pages of any given issue of a fashion magazine are certainly an authoritative source on current runway trends, what everyone is wearing on the streets of New York and Paris, and so on—it's the advertising pages that give you a glimpse into the larger trends happening in the fashion world—and beyond.

Sure, the ads are designed to sell you something, but if they're executed well, they're selling more than a product; they're also selling an idea, a feeling (hello, Mad Men). All of which means, in theory, that the creators of the ads have really done their research to come up with an innovative and compelling concept that will resonate with the public. Advertisers have their finger on the pulse of "what's next" in a way that editorial may not. 

The other wonderful thing about ads, particularly the ones that appear in fashion magazines: They are incredibly multi-sensory in a way that editorial pages rarely are. Fact: In college, I had a subcription to GQ, and when each new issue arrived, the first thing I did was page through every single cologne ad to open the scented sleeve. Then I fluttered all the pages in the book together, so the entire thing smelled like a delicious, incredibly stylish man. (This perhaps also explains why the first expensive gift I bought my now-boyfriend was a bottle of nice cologne.)

I'm not the only one who feels this way about ads eithera senior editorial team member here at Who What Wear, who did a stint at Vogue, recently shared that whenever the new issue dropped, she and the other staffers would clamor to get their hands on it, not to see the editorial content, but so that they could flip through the ads. It informed them of what was trending not only in terms of the fashion, but also in terms of beauty (nails, hair, makeup), styling, and more.

So we'd love to hear your opinion on this: What do you think of fashion ads? Stalk or skip? Sound off in the comments below!