Today Condé Nast International announced the launch of Vogue Arabia, as part of a move to expand further into the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
It is the 22nd edition of the magazine worldwide, and the company is taking a digital-first approach, launching the brand as a website in both Arabic and English this fall. According to The Business of Fashion (BoF), this will allow the company to learn more about its audience in the aforementioned region at a quicker pace.
In launching the brand, Condé Nast International continues to partner with Dubai-based media company Nervora, who it currently collaborates on its Style.com/Arabia website. Vogue Arabia will replace and rebrand the existing content on Style.com/Arabia.
A spokesperson for Condé Nast International tells Folio: that Style.com will be re-launching globally later this autumn as an e-commerce platform, allowing the Vogue Arabia website to target the existing fashion-aware audience through a digital-first launch.
“A digital-first launch for Vogue is a historic moment. By transitioning the existing Style.com/Arabia platform we immediately draw on a unique blend of digital experience and entrepreneurial spirit at Nervora…,” said Karina Dobrotvorskaya, president of Condé Nast new markets and editorial director of brand development, in a press release.
Meanwhile, the print edition of the brand will be published in spring 2017 under an initial license agreement with Nervora, and will be headquartered in Dubai.
The magazine’s primary print distribution focus will be Gulf countries including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, according to Nervora founder and CEO Shashi Menon in BoF.
However, the brand also plans to target the wider MENA region where the majority of the world’s 585 million Arab speakers live, particularly in areas with emerging fashion markets such as Egypt, Lebanon, and Morocco.
The brand’s print strategy will also include areas where influential, affluent Arabs live or often travel to, including London, Paris, and Milan.
“There’s certainly an opportunity to be a unifying voice for such audiences — across any of the [channels] on which we’ll be present,” Menon told BoF.
An occupied market
While the launch of this magazine significantly expands Condé Nast International’s reach into the region, other magazines established themselves in the area nearly 10 years ago.
Other fashion titles previously established in the area include Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, Elle Oriental, Marie Claire Arabia, and L’Officiel Maroc, published by ITP, Hearst International and Editions H.D., Groupe Marie Claire, and Geomedia, respectively.
Newman also told BoF that Condé Nast International chose to explore the market with its Condé Nast Traveller and Architectural Digest brands prior to launching Vogue Arabia, which may explain the magazine's late arrival to the area.
A royal mandate
Nevertheless, Vogue Arabia will start off with a considerable amount of authority on the region and regional fashion, largely because its editor-in-chief will be Saudi Princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz.
Abdulaziz is the co-founder and director of D’NA, a members-only boutique renown for its independent fashion voice in the Middle East and internationally.
In her new position, Abdulaziz plans to challenge the misconceptions about the Arab world and women in the region, telling BoF that, “Perhaps outside of our region there’s an underlying assumption that Middle Eastern women aren’t empowered, when we actually have a long history of accomplishments — though those stories don’t surface often enough. One particular aim we have is that Vogue Arabia will play a role in elevating these stories to the global stage through the medium and lens of fashion and culture.”
She will lead a team including fashion director Daniela Agnelli and features director Caterina Minthe. Agnelli previously worked at London’s Telegraph magazine. Meanwhile, Minthe currently serves as managing editor of Style.com/Arabia.
The Vogue Fashion Prize
One of the magazine’s first moves will be to take responsibly for The Fashion Prize, an annual endowment for promising fashion and accessory design talents in the Arab world, to be re-launched as the Dubai Design & Fashion Council (DDFC)/Vogue Fashion Prize. This is in line with what Abdulaziz says will be the magazine’s main focus, elevating today’s Arab talent.
The launch comes following Condé Nast International’s expansion in recent years, particularly with regards to its fashion and lifestyle brands. In 2012, Condé Nast International launched Glamour Brazil and GQ Turkey. In 2013, Vogue expanded to Thailand and Ukraine.
Condé Nast International’s first expansion into the Middle East region came in December 2013, with the launch of Condé Nast Traveller Middle East.
In April 2015, the company launched Glamour Iceland, the 17th global edition of the magazine, and Vanity Fair Mexico, the brand’s fifth international edition. That same month, Architectural Digest expanded to the Middle East, its tenth global edition.