LONDON, United Kingdom – Back in 1995, Netscape Navigator was the dominant web-browser with a market share of more than 90%. People were talking about the launch of Altavista, an Internet search engine that acheived 300,000 hits on its very first day. On the fashion end of things, the New York Times’ Amy Spindler was tearing apart Donna Karan and raving about Mark Eisen in her review of the New York A/W 1995 collections.
Today, Netscape’s share of web-browser use is less than 1% and Altavista is a relic. Donna Karan still puts out collections in New York, but she scarcely merits a full length review in Cathy Horyn’s reviews. Nobody even remembers Mark Eisen. In the worlds of Fashion and the Internet, things can change very quickly indeed. Combine the two together, and things travel at lightspeed.
That’s why the longevity and continued market dominance of the UK’s VOGUE.COM, which also launched in 1995, is remarkable. I spoke to Editor Dolly Jones about the new technology and content underlying the relaunched site. Not one to rest on her laurels, we also discussed the business imperatives for keeping VOGUE.COM at the top of its game.
BoF: What brought about the decision to overhaul VOGUE.COM at this time?
DJ: We had enjoyed our position as market leader for some years -since 1995 when the site launched, and it’s been upgraded several times since then, but as our competitors began to sit up and take notice, we wanted to take the offering up a level and create the best possible offering for advertisers while also catering to the never ending user demand for fashion. We have over 12 years experience online, now, and we wanted to put all that we’ve learnt in that time to the best possible use. We liked what we had, and it worked – so we combined the best of what was there with one or two other ideas we’d had! The fashion industry is transforming and developing all the time – we have to reflect that with the site – and plus our advertisers wanted it.
DJ: We have expanded the news to at least 12 stories per day, along with our daily VOGUE.com Loves slot, we’ve increased the daily beauty updates and added an entirely new Jewellery section that is proving incredibly popular. We also offer more Street Chic photos every day now. The entire site has a daily feel, with pods around the site updating all the time to show off the latest content – and of course we have the world’s first downloadable calendar – that syncs with your own Outlook calendar – and the international collections (including cities all over the world in addition to the big four), can be searched by our interactive, global map. Plus, you can see the closest possible view of the clothes and accessories via our new magnifier tool. It’s stylish in terms of design, technical prowess and editorial offering. With blogs from Paul Smith, Erin O’Connor and Lara Bohinc as well as fashion personalities taking the VogueTV mike, we’ve pushed the boundaries and we’re going to continue to do so.
BoF: As more and more users consume media on different channels, to what extent will the online Vogue synchronise its content offering with the offline Vogue UK?
DJ: We work closely with Alexandra Shulman and her team to ensure that what we offer is in line with her vision of the Vogue brand. Rather than reproduce the magazine’s content online, we want to fulfil our potential as the magazine’s strongest PR tool. Every month when the magazine goes on sale, we update a comprehensive magazine section that includes information about what’s in that particular issue; highlights from it; animated fashion shoots from the magazine – and of course the Editors Video that we create every month. The latest one has Mario Testino talking exclusively to VogueTV about his experience shooting Margaret Thatcher and Bay Garnett talking about how nervous she was dressing Uma Thurman for the cover. Of course there is the Cover Archive, too – an incredibly popular archive of almost a century of Vogue.
BoF: Everyone is talking about video as the most important emerging content form online. We understand Louise Roe has recently moved on to film a television show for the BBC…..what’s in store for VogueTV now?
DJ: We were thrilled to see Louise Roe take up such a wonderful opportunity and there’s no doubt we’re going to be seeing a good deal more of her – it’s wonderful to think VOGUE.COM played a part in what is bound to be such a success. With VogueTV, we wanted to maintain the exclusivity that the Vogue brand offers us to stay ahead and stay unique and compelling, so we’re sticking to fashion personalities for now: Jade Parfitt presented our film of the Met Ball; Joe Corre presented the Vienna Life Ball film. We’ve got Manolo Blahnik signed up, too, and there are lots of other plans in the pipeline that I can’t tell you about except to promise it’s going to be more unmissable than ever – and it’s seriously fun to work on.
Images courtesy of Vogue.