LONDON, United Kingdom - While taking a whirl around the Internet these days you're bound to bump into an online fashion magazine - or ten. Everyone from Richard Mortimer of Boombox fame to Net-a-Porter’s Natalie Massenet is getting in on the action – and looking for ways to monetise it.
For a long time, content developers had a hard time creating a distinction between simple websites and bonafide online magazines. But, in the past year, a plethora of online magazines have emerged with three common threads:
Multimedia: The new magazines are a veritable multi-media festival. For some content consumers, particularly younger tech-savvy types, a multi-media experience is the only way to capture (and keep) their attention: lots of videos, blogs, and communities.
Integration: The trick here has been to create a truly integrated experience across different channels -- for example, how do you make an offline page really come alive on the Internet? Creating complementary content that can be consumed separately, and together, satisfies even the most demanding multi-tasker.
Convergence: Style.com meets Neiman Marcus.com. Content companies are integrating commerce models into their sites while commerce companies are creating their own content, and thereby, becoming content destinations in and of themselves.
To mark the surge of online magazines, we've compiled a list of ten of the most interesting concepts to watch:
1. NY Times T Magazine: With thought-provoking editorial, sharp images and full page advertisements, this is the place to find the experience that most closely captures that of reading a great offline magazine. But, it doesn't end there. T also kicks things into a whole new gear with seamlessly-integrated video and a daily blog, “The Moment”, resulting in a true multi-media experience. We think this one is a winner, and by the sounds of it, the advertisers are loving it too.
2. Net-a-Porter Notes: Did you know that Net-a-Porter puts out a new edition of its online magazine every single week? Last week, Natalie Massenet told me that “Net-a-Porter Notes” is a key part of making Net-a-Porter an online fashion destination with both content and commerce. Just click on the magazine images or trends, and you are magically transported to the Net-a-Porter commerce site. How efficient!
3. Vogue.co.uk: London’s fashion community descended on a pre-launch breakfast for the new Vogue.co.uk last week. Editor Dolly Jones tells us that the new site will launch in a few weeks and will be “completely different” from the current site. Vogue.com devotees will have already noticed that the site has been using more and more video content in recent months – a sign of things to come? Will there be a commerce play too? Stay tuned.
4. Ponystep.com: A couple of weeks ago I met East London impresario Richard Mortimer and asked him about Ponystep.com which just launched today. I can see why Richard described it as a project of passion, “working with people I like.” This may be why there is no apparent business model. However, this think-about-money-later formula has worked for Richard in the past – Boombox spawned a book, was invited to replicate itself in Milan and Paris, and drew attention (read: money) from big brands like Burberry.
5. New York Look: The second issue of New York Look magazine has hit the stands, with the online version to hit the site in the next couple of weeks. We reviewed the launch issue in the Autumn, and enjoyed its insider perspective and interesting editorial. Case and point: the new issue features Janet Ozzard’s interview with Cathy Horyn on the end of the runway show in an “online-only” fashion world.
6. BBC Thread: Seizing the zeitgeist for ethical fashion, the BBC launched an online fashion magazine earlier this month, targeted at young, socially conscious consumers interested in self-described “eco-fabulous” style. The magazine’s content runs the gamut from environmentally friendly to ethically-conscious and for once, has a definition of what this actually means.
7. HintMag: Hintmag has developed a cult following for its in-depth ‘Hinterviews’ with hard-to-pin-down fashion royalty. This month, Stephen Jones, London’s legendary milliner, reveals what its like to work on designing runway-worthy headgear for fashion designers ranging from Rei Kawakubo to Marc Jacobs to John Galliano.
8. Fashion156.com: Every 156 hours, Fashion156 releases a new issue of its online magazine, in keeping with fast fashion, in the most literal sense of the word. With Susie Bubble as a key contributor and a desire to make Fashion156 a platform for new talent, this site has a fresh take on all things fashion -- including a clever model that includes links to commerce partners, which likely create revenue from affiliate sales and commissions.
9.Very Elle: Earlier this month, Elle France launched this new integrated online/offline magazine property which takes the offline magazine and replicates it verbatim online -- complete with full-page advertisements. Its en français, but you can still get a feel for how some offline magazines may try to get into this space to directly leverage their content online, while maintaining the feel of a real magazine.
10. Iconique: First launched in 2000 (and therefore, a pioneer in this space), Iconique magazine is the brainchild of of Joost van Gorsel. Designed using flash, which is not necessarily great for quick download times, the site still manages to evoke real moods and tantalise with its virtual catwalks, stylish podcasts and a sexy welcome message.
Which online fashion magazines do you rate highly? Let the BoF community know who else is doing something special.