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Condé Nast to Re-Launch Vogue in Greece

As the Greek edition prepares for a spring 2019 launch, editor-in-chief Thaleia Karafyllidou speaks to BoF exclusively about her vision and surprising developments in the Greek luxury market.
Thaleia Karafyllidou is the editor-in-chief of Vogue Greece | Source: Courtesy
  • Victoria Berezhna

ATHENS, Greece — Condé Nast International is re-launching Vogue in Greece. Published under a license agreement with Kathimerines Ekdoseis, the print and digital edition will debut in Spring 2019 under the leadership of Thaleia Karafyllidou, the youngest-ever editor-in-chief of a Vogue magazine, at 29.

It will mark the second entry of the magazine into Greece; Vogue Hellas launched in March 2000 under Liberis Publications, but ceased operations in 2012 after the publisher went bankrupt.

“We don’t call it a relaunch because we don’t consider it as a continuation [from that],” said Karina Dobrotvorskaya, executive director of editorial development at Condé Nast International. “It’s a different team and different era. The previous Vogue was very print-focused, but they now need to speak to a different generation.”

Vogue Hellas' 12-year presence in Greece was marked by blockbuster covers with models that included Naomi Campbell, Natasha Poly and Daria Werbowy. However following the Greek financial crisis the magazine depended on covers shot for other editions including Vogue France when budgets didn't stretch far enough for original content.

Market sources cited industry rumours that the earlier version of Vogue Hellas was somehow not officially connected to Condé Nast. “There is no possibility to launch Vogue without our typical license agreement, which is very strict,” said Dobrotvorskaya. “[But] the publisher Antonios Liberis was a colourful person surrounded by rumours, so his personality affected perception.”

The print edition of the new Vogue Greece will be published in Greek, but digital, social media and events will hold an equally strong focus. “We want to create a multimedia brand – not just a magazine, but a social force with a lot of conferences and events,” said editor-in-chief Thaleia Karafyllidou.

The announcement closely follows the launch of Vogue Poland and Vogue Czechoslovakia, which debuted in August with a September issue. Vogue Greece will be Condé Nast's 25th edition of Vogue.

“There is a very interesting fashion landscape and audience [in Greece] who are eager to embrace newer international and local brands,” said Dobrotvorskaya. “Recovery is still slow, but it’s happening and the trend is positive.”

There is a very interesting fashion landscape and audience who are eager to embrace newer international and local brands.

The Greek economy has come a long way since 2008, when the country entered a sovereign debt crisis that sent a chill throughout Europe and sent global markets into a panic. After a long-awaited debt relief deal in July 2018, in August the country made its official exit from the bailouts that had imposed unprecedented austerity measures.

While it is not necessarily an end to the country’s woes, it is a very important moment. Greece’s government has said the country is now finally “turning a page.”

Re-launching a high-end magazine like Vogue in a market still in recovery can pose a risk to Condé Nast, which is busy consolidating its US and UK titles, but Greece has a small but solid industry ecosystem of local designers, photographers, stylists and journalists. “[Besides], the moment you open a Vogue, clients are more interested in the market — it’s a great message to send,” said Dobrotvorskaya.

One surprising outcome of the economic crisis was that — despite some high-profile defections abroad — many Greek artists and creatives doubled down with their work. Some believe the crisis actually helped parts of the creative scene to flourish during the darkest days of austerity.

“This is the main reason why I think launching Vogue is perfect for right now — the boom of new design and talent is brilliant [here in Athens],” said Mariaflora P. Lehec, creative director of Greece-based Somf Clothing. “It reminds me of early millennium in London in terms of creativity.”

And despite the very real and negative headlines about growing poverty in Greece, the country remains a very significant luxury market. In fact, when capital controls were announced a few years ago, they triggered a huge boost for sales of jewellery and luxury cars.

"From an international perspective, the crisis overshadowed everything else but there were parts of Greek society who were super insulated," explains Adonis Kentros, a Greek-born, London-based stylist whose work has been published in Dazed Digital and Garage, and is styling consultant for Christopher Kane.

Some wealthy Greeks tightened their belts but most just turned down the volume a bit and learned to spend more discreetly.

There are some 16,500 millionaires in Athens alone, according to the Frank Knight 2017 World Wealth Report. While this pales in comparison to other European capitals, it is still an attractive prospect for luxury brands when put into the global context. Even after years of crisis, Athens can boast more US dollar millionaires than in much-hyped-about emerging markets like Bogota, Colombia or Bangkok, Thailand.

“What you have to remember is that there’s a lot of very old money in Greece with very deep roots who never stopped consuming. Don’t get me wrong, the country really did go through pain, but that doesn’t mean that the rich suddenly vanished. Sure, some wealthy Greeks tightened their belts — especially new money people who were more vulnerable — but most just turned down the volume a bit and learned to spend more discreetly,” Kentros adds.

Frank Knight estimates that by the end of 2015 around 3,000 Greek millionaires fled to their second or third homes abroad “but most of them didn’t stop spending. All that changed was where and how they shopped.” Country-wide, the millionaire population is now hovering at around 40,000 and is forecast to remain stable over the coming decade.

Taking the helm of Greek Vogue, Thaleia Karafyllidou will be the youngest-ever editor-in-chief of a Vogue magazine, and the team she selected is equally as dynamic. Nicolas Georgiou joins as creative and fashion director, while Giorgos Tsiros has been appointed managing editor, Elis Kiss as fashion features editor and Dionisis Andrianopoulos as art director.

“Nicolas, the fashion director, is arguably the best stylist in Greece,” said Kentros. “Thaleia will make the magazine more cultural, and Nicolas is knowledgeable in fashion so he’ll take care of that side. They’ll make a good team.”

The magazine joins a string of well-established fashion publications in Greece. Elle was launched in 1988 under a license agreement with Alpha Editions; Harper’s Bazaar began operations in 1999 with Attica Media Group, counting a readership of just under 500,000; and Marie Claire has been in circulation since 1987 under MC Hallas.

“Magazines in Greece are quite commercial and middle market,” said Dobrotvorskaya. “[Vogue Greece] will be collectible and different, in terms of quality, paper and covers.” Moreover, the magazine’s publisher Kathimerines Ekdoseis is also responsible for the country’s oldest newspaper Kathimerini, and entered a partnership with The New York Times to publish an English-language daily edition of the newspaper.

“The readership [of Kathimerini] is very upmarket and intellectual,” said Karafyllidou. “We’re trying to aim at the people who want to have a 360-vision of everything going on not only in Greece, but globally.”

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