No one ever imagined that Marie Claire would disappear from Japanese bookstores. However, in 2009, the magazine was discontinued after 27 years.

In order to re-issue a magazine which has been discontinued, it takes unwavering commitment and a strong conviction for success. When the Japanese version of Marie Claire was first published from Chuokoron (current Chuokoron Shinsha) in 1982, the business was based on a licensing agreement for the magazine as well as products sold under the name. Even after the magazine was discontinued, products were sold under the Marie Claire brand name which amounted to business of 20 billion yen per year.

Marie Claire Album S.A. of France expanded its business overseas starting with Japan, and it now publishes magazines in 35 countries. The company contacted the editor in chief Katsuto Tai, who was the last for the Japanese version under Chuokoron, to see if there was any way that the magazine could remain in the market. After all, it was unnatural for the most successful women’s magazine to not be available in Japan.

“When I was first contacted by Marie Claire Album S.A., I was not prepared to re-issue the magazine, especially since I had seen tough times for fashion magazines. I then devised the current style for the magazine,” explains Mr. Tai.

The current style is to publish the contents as part of the Yomiuri Shimbun, which is the base of Chuokoron Shinsha. The contents are free of charge as it comes with the newspaper. It is only distributed to certain parts of Tokyo and other regional cities (total of 430,000 copies) where wealthy families live. For that, the contents focus on luxury brands and advertisement revenues from these brands.

“When I first brought the idea to the president of Marie Claire Album S.A., there was hesitation and so I contacted the founder and chairman Donatienne de Montmort, who said this was the only way back into the Japanese market,” continues Mr. Tai.

The magazine was re-issued under the new name “Marie Claire Style” in July 2012 after 3 years of discontinuation.

The contents cover 52 pages of tabloid paper at most and include interviews, columns about products, and fashion and beauty pages. The contents work side by side with the web to add more variation to the product lineup. The web version is linked with “Mode Press,” which cooperates with L'Agence France-Presse, and updates 10 to 15 topics per day.

Mr. Tai believes that paper media is much more effective for luxury brands and his belief goes along with Anna Wintour, the editor in chief of Vogue US. He says, “Brands appeal to the consumers using its stories and their images to express their emotions. However, information obtained through the web does not offer what it is really trying to communicate with the consumers. The visuals are not as good as those of paper media. In the future, the web will have to prove its real worth.”

When asked about future prospects, Mr. Tai said that the magazine would be sold for 200 yen an issue at kiosks within the Ginza Tokyo Metro line from this year. This is in response to those who want to read the contents but cannot due to the fact that they do not subscribe to the Yomiuri Shimbun. This initiative will be carried out as a trial and is not intended as a strategy to come back to bookstores. The total number of copies of the magazine is planned to be increased to 600,000. The plan is to also increase the number of times it is issued in a year to 20 times, with the possibility of issuing a men’s version.

In attracting the readers, editors had chosen themes that the readers wanted to read. When certain themes received good reviews, they conceived of every possible way to use them over and over, resulting in mannerism. It was the job of the editors in chief to strike good prospects. Now seems to be a time for them to come up with unique ideas and lead the business to success.

First half of the series complete. The second half will explore VOGUE, Harper’s BAZAAR and NUMERO Tokyo.