From the first cover of Vogue in 1892 to a photograph of Coco Chanel lounging on a sofa, Condé Nast’s archive houses a trove of images from its legacy magazine brands that the publishing company hopes loyal readers will be willing to buy.
For example, the photos would appear on limited-edition prints, T-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags and pillows.
“These images have unprecedented value,” Cathy Hoffman Glosser, Condé Nast’s senior vice president for licensing told the NYT. “We want these assets to become more accessible.”
However, there are some restrictions when it comes to commercializing these images. Annie Leibovitz, who shoots for VanityFair and Vogue, owns the rights to her photographs.
Former executive photo director of Vogue, Ivan Shaw, was named Condé Nast’s photography director for the archive in June, with responsibility for expanding sales of these archival goods.
He is part of a team that has begun developing an online store called Condé Nast Editions, which sells special-edition prints of vintage Vogue covers and New Yorker cartoons.
Condé Nast tested out the appeal of such merchandise with prints of The New Yorker’s May 2, 2016 “Purple Rain” cover illustration, a tribute to Prince by the artist Bob Staake. Shaw told the NYT 189 prints were sold for $95, as well as 121 copies of a $325 signed, limited-edition version of the cover.
Publishers like Condé Nast are looking for new business opportunities in response to falling print ad revenue. In December, Condé Nast shuttered the print edition of Self magazine; the year before, Details was shut down.
Shaw and his team are also developing exhibitions, book projects and a documentary on Condé Nast’s fashion photography.Condé Nast did not respond to questions by press time.