By Paul Pannone
Arrogance and the unwillingness to change is blamed for the shakeup at Conde’ Nast’s Brides magazine, according to sources in the Wedding Water Cooler. WWC sources that know Millie Martini Bratten said they feel bad for her; Bratten lost her position after decades of commitment to the company. According to sources it’s an attempt to right some of the wrongs that have been going on for years. Some even predict the end of the magazine, Brides, citing reasons why Conde’ Nast won’t support properties that are not front-runners in their category.
Steve Lang (far right), owner of Mon Cheri, has been critical of the practices at Conde’ Nast for years. Lang pulled his advertising and deployed resources in-house, building a powerhouse company that manufacturers and markets event dresses, including bridal. Mon Cheri is up for several awards at Chicago market.
Major advertiser in the WWC, Steve Lang, has been very vocal in his criticism of Brides and other Conde’ Nast publications that were shut down.
“I find it sad that for the past decade I have been warning the management of Conde’ Nast; that they were headed for this fate. I predicted Modern Bride would be closed I told them that what is now happening would in fact happen. No one listened. They will listen now.
I do not see Brides surviving unless they amend their ways. New editors/publishers will not solve the endemic problems they face if significant changes are not made. It is interesting to note that other publications seek the counsel of the bigger manufacturers while Conde’ Nast drinks their cool aide and only theirs,” says Lang.
Sources familiar with the history between Lang and his exchanges with Conde’ Nast publications responded to the statements. Ex-employee of Conde’ Nast and current competitor, Jim Duhe, weighed in.
“I know that you had countless conversations with people at all levels of Conde Nast about changes that they should examine. However, Conde’ Nast doesn’t generally listen to anyone — not even to multi-million dollar advertisers. Their editors are responsible to an editorial director — not the business side of the operation. There usually is a disconnect with the two side of the business. However, it always seems like a big stretch when the two lines intersect.
Generally, editors employed by Conde’ Nast have little or no bridal experience. They approach editorial features in the same way that they approach ready-to-wear decisions for their own personal life. They don’t understand that ready-to-wear trends don’t necessarily translate into bridal. They don’t even understand that it’s highly unlikely that a bridal consumer will spend upwards of $1,000 on a gown without first trying it on.
As a result, they substitute their personal opinions for legitimate bridal expertise. In the female apparel category, they believe that expensive equals better. That’s why you see so much Vera Wang, Carolina Herrera, Monique Lhuillier, etc. in Brides.
Please don’t misunderstand, it isn’t that I believe that these designers don’t create beautiful merchandise. However, it’s my opinion (based upon research) that the percentage of gowns sold above $3,000 is too small to command the
majority of editorial space.
In the tuxedo category, the editors want to believe that there is a trend in business suits so they have worked hard and long to make it happen. They consistently substitute business suits for formal wear. Apparently, the editors don’t believe that the kind of woman who wears a $5,000 gown will care if her husband wears a business suit or a tuxedo. They simply don’t know any better because they don’t know the category.
I’d believe that Conde Nast is serious about making editorial changes if the editorial staff actually visited bridal stores throughout the country. I suspect that Kleinfeld’s will be the first (and may be the only) store that the new Brides staff will embrace,” according to Duhe.
Duhe began his career at Conde’ Nast and has kept a close watch over the company for decades. Lang pulled his advertising from Conde’ Nast publications feeling he was better served elsewhere.
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