Fashion Magazines Change Tactics, Venture Into E-Commerce

The glossy fashion magazine is undergoing a major overhaul. Growth in the online medium followed by the recession has seriously cut into the advertising revenues of glossies. The rise of online stores that also offer readable content is a further worry for the all-knowing glossy magazine of yesteryear. In a world where news travels instantly, consumers no longer need to wait for their favorite fashion magazines to tell them what’s in and what’s out. Becoming irrelevant is a very real fear for even the premier fashion magazines of the world. For this reason, many have entered the online retail sector. The ultimate objective is to find a way to survive in the long term and retain relevance.

Magazines like Esquire and Vogue have jumped on to the online retail bandwagon. The website for Vogue magazine has recognized the value of allowing consumers to buy products at the very moment that they see it. Designers like Diane von Furstenburg, Derek Lam and Marc Jacobs are showcasing their collections on Vogue magazine, and consumers can buy it directly off the website. Three-figure and four-figure prices are common enough. After all, these are big designers on display. Moreover, Vogue stands to benefit on some purchases. Commissions may not be all-encompassing, but Vogue will be charging fees for some sales. The premier fashion magazine also has ties with Moda Operandi, a site that has been showcasing trunk shows of stores for the past year.

As I mentioned earlier, Vogue is not alone. The retail bug has bitten other magazines as well. The Conde Nast-owned Style.com is moving into retail from November this year. Meanwhile, men’s magazine Details has tied up with Net-a-Porter’s men’s division Mr. Porter. In the coming months, Details editors will start curating products that will be sold on Mr. Porter.

Esquire also has big plans for its new avatar as it enters into the retail arena in a big way. Esquire’s e-commerce venture is a magazine named Clad. The site will be launched in October this year, and it will stock products that have been featured in the magazine itself. Watch out for labels like Michael Kors. Clad is not so much a content-rich magazine as a catalogue of products. The big selling point here is that bar codes will be displayed beside select products allowing customers to buy them immediately.

Magazines have always shared a symbiotic relationship with designers – sometimes promising to feature labels that have bought advertising space. The new trend where magazines actually sell designer products might impinge on the freedom of editors to say it like it is. This is a very real fear that is being voiced in many quarters. Brandon Holley, the editor-in-chief of shopping magazine Lucky, feels that editors need to be careful about making valid recommendations to avoid alienating their readers.

In the meanwhile, the high-end retailer that regularly advertises in fashion glossies is eyeing the developments cautiously. The likes of Bergdoff Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue already have a strong online presence. But can the entry of fashion glossies into the retail sector dent their business? That is a question they will be asking.

Via: The New York Times

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