Yesterday evening, The Wall Street Journal announced it would close its New York–based fashion-and-retail group. A total of fourteen were laid off, while eleven took a buyout, Forbes.com reports. In a memo sent to staff, managing editor Robert Thompson said the paper would maintain fashion coverage. However, the fashion department will be downsized from a full-time staff of nine people, to five. With Fashion Week starting in one week, they may just be insane. Sources tell Forbes.com that Teri Agins is out, while columnist Christina Binkley will stay on along with the group's top editor, Lisa Bannon. Other staffers have been asked to reapply for three remaining open positions in the style section.
"For the last three years, the Journal has been building up its retail and luxury coverage group and trying to court that advertising," said one senior Journal writer who is close to the group. "But maybe now they feel that for the next year or 18 months, luxury advertising won't come through--and besides there's the new WSJ. magazine, which is courting the same advertising territory."
So the Journal's new quarterly luxury magazine ate the newspaper. Interesting. We're quite familiar with the fashion coverage in the newspaper, and have seen an issue of the new magazine, and the former wins the substantive contest hands down. The Heard on the Runway fashion-news blog is one of our daily must-reads, so we hope that remains intact. The one copy of the new magazine we saw, however, included an article about Swarovski-encrusted toilets and a fashion spread with dog balloons and giant soap bubbles. It's a shame.