Joining Vogue Runway’s index of designers and brands is seen in the industry as a stamp of legitimacy, dating back to its origins as part of Style.com in 2000. The site now boasts 2.5 million unique visitors during an average fashion week, and the title says its Vogue Runway app has been downloaded more than 1.8 million times. Images from hundreds of shows are posted each season, often hitting the web minutes after models walk down the runway.
But now for $20,000 a year — and pending Vogue editor approval — a designer or brand can have their lookbook or collection images uploaded to Vogue’s Runway website and app twice annually, according to a term sheet reviewed by BoF. The option has been available for at least three seasons, according to a source with knowledge of the publication’s strategy, and does not include reviews or other written content.
It’s unclear how many designers have taken Vogue up on its offer, as brands that pay to be featured are not demarcated in any way. During the Spring 2019 ready-to-wear season for womenswear, Vogue Runway listed about 480 brands, according to the site’s index, versus about 445 the same season two years prior. While Vogue Runway previously only featured images of collections it also reviewed, that is no longer the case in recent seasons.
“Experts and brands will always prioritise using and referring to the genuine, ‘clean’ image directly from Getty, Imaxtree, or Vogue,” said a content strategist who works with fashion publishers. “I think the past five years has proven that ... the brand equity that Vogue has is parallel to few.”
Vogue is seen as the most valuable title in Condé Nast’s portfolio, and the US edition is leveraging its authority in the eyes of brands and readers to generate revenue in new ways during a challenging time for the publisher. Vogue is in the process of rolling out a new membership programme for readers, for example, with tiered pricing models reaching as high as $100,000 per year. Offerings will include exclusive content and access to the magazine’s editors and exclusive events.
At Vogue Runway, images are the limit for pay-for-play coverage, said a source with knowledge of Vogue’s approach. Brands and designers cannot pay to have their collections reviewed or covered editorially elsewhere on the Runway vertical. (Sponsored content does appear regularly on the main Vogue website, however.) And the Vogue Runway team, led by director Nicole Phelps, still has final say over which brands can pay to be part of the index and which images will be accepted.
For many of the brands found on Vogue Runway, coverage goes back as far as 1999 thanks to rich archives inherited from Style.com. In 2015, Conde Nast announced it was closing Style.com and moving its archive, content and some staff over to the newly created Vogue Runway vertical under Vogue.com. Costly plans to turn Style.com into an e-commerce destination for Condé Nast’s portfolio titles never fully launched. The project was scrapped and the intellectual property and other assets sold to Farfetch in 2017.
Vogue and Condé Nast are seeking new ways to generate revenue as the company seeks to return to profitability following heavy losses in 2017. The company put Brides, W and Golf Digest up for sale and halted publication of Glamour’s monthly print magazine. The company is in the process of merging with its London-based sister publisher, Condé Nast International, and the search is on for a new global chief executive officer.