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GIMME SHELTER: On Monday, Departures revealed a new shelter supplement, Home & Design. Later in the day, another e-mail popped up: “We have big news — the Robb Report is launching a new supplement, Home & Style.”
Home & Design is “dedicated to the celebration of material comforts and the art of living,” said Departures. Home & Style is “celebrating home ownership in the world’s most desirable destinations,” said the Robb Report.
They join The Wall Street Journal’s recently launched Mansion, a Friday section “covering the global luxury real estate market.” Even if you live in a shack, The Journal’s managing editor Robert Thomson encouraged, “We all have the license to aspire, so we have created Mansion.”
The newbies are not the average millionaire’s shelter magazines like Architectural Digest, Veranda, and Elle Decor, whose October cover subject is Ivanka Trump’s $16 million Park Avenue penthouse. Mansion breathlessly notes for-sale signs on a $42 million Gramercy Park condo and a $107 million New Jersey estate. The Robb Report, the self-proclaimed “international authority on the luxury lifestyle,” describes its supplement, which makes its debut in March, as a reader’s very own personal real estate agent in Palm Springs and Saint-Tropez.
“Our magazine is aimed at a highly affluent readership that travels widely, owns multiple vacation homes around the world, and has a refined sense of style and design,” said editor in chief Brett Anderson.
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Departures’ supplement, which will be polybagged with the May issue, will go to American Express platinum and Centurion card-holders. “There are shelter magazines, but no shelter magazines serving readers at our level,” claimed Amex senior vice president Steven DeLuca. “Two-thirds of our readers have two homes. A third of our readers have three homes or more.”
That all these titles are launching at about the same time is surprising because there didn’t seem to be a shortage of fawning real estate coverage already out there. Are the country’s owners of eight- and nine-figure estates suddenly clamoring for more appropriate reading material?
Anderson said his readers wanted more than just the design and real estate coverage currently in the magazine. Departures editor in chief Richard D. Story said the magazine used to cover luxury real estate regularly up until 2007, and then “things got a little dicey.” But in the last year, “real estate has really come back, in terms of interest, and it’s really come back strong for us,” Story said as he was about to board a plane in Puerto Rico, where he was surveying the Ritz-Carlton’s new exclusive Dorado Beach hotel. He wants Home & Design to stand out from the competition. “Those magazines are about decorator rooms. For us, it involves more than just rooms and decorators. It has to have a point of view,” he said. “I’d love to be able to do the barefoot shack as well as the glass-and-steel skyscraper in Mumbai.”
Then there are all those extra ad dollars they can try to gobble up from realtors, home design firms and more. While Departures is up 3 percent through August, according to Media Industry Newsletter, the Robb Report is down nearly 5 percent.
DeLuca is chasing 50-plus ad pages for the inaugural issue, and hopes it’ll become an annual release. The Robb Report, which wants 65 pages, has already decided the supplement will go out six times next year.