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October 5, 2011 10:28 pm
It might seem an odd time to launch a fashion magazine. The publishing industry continues to contract, advertising dollars are flowing to the web, and the industry does not exactly suffer from a dearth of fashion titles. Yet this month, Fairchild Fashion Media, a division of Condé Nast, will launch Style.com Magazine, the latest entrant to a crowded field.
Putting aside the audacity of launching a print magazine in today’s publishing climate, there are still several reasons to take note of the Style.com Magazine.
First, there is that issue of the “dotcom” in its name. It is a signal that this is a magazine born from the web.
“It’s somewhat counter-intuitive to be going from the web to print, but it’s a fairly natural brand extension for us,” says Dirk Standen, editor in chief of Style.com and Style.com Magazine. “Content exists in a number of places now, and you want to be everywhere your readers are.”
That may sound like the publisher of a print magazine justifying its new app, but Mr Standen is right to believe his readers may follow him offline. Style.com was founded in 2000 and had first-mover advantage when it came to fashion on the web.
It has remained the most highly trafficked fashion website online, and grew to be the envy of fashion magazines such as Vogue and Elle, which had strong brands in print but struggled to make the transition online.
With 3m unique visitors and 240m page views a month, and 1.5m downloads of its application, Style.com has decidedly loyal readers, many of whom may well buy a print product, too.
“The magazine industry has realised it’s not enough to create a brand out of nowhere with a $100m budget,” says David Renard, a consultant with mediaIDEAS. Condé Nast has learnt this the hard way as high-profile debuts such as Portfolio and Men’s Vogue have flopped.
Other non-print media properties are also trying to make the transition to the printed page. The Daily Beast now has Newsweek, ESPN’s new Grantland blog will produce a quarterly journal with independent publisher McSweeney’s. Even television shows have come to print, with Food Network Magazine, Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine, and O, Oprah’s successful title.
“If a brand already has millions of followers, there’s a higher chance of it succeeding in print,” says Mr Renard.
As is befitting a true fashion icon, the Style.com Magazine is not looking to blend in with similar titles. It will be a larger format and printed on thick paper. In short, it will look more like W than Vogue, both also Condé Nast titles.
“One of our goals is for it to be a collector’s item,” says Mr Standen. “It gives you an instant portrait of the season.”
The magazine will be printed a few times a year to begin with, coming out after the top fashion shows, and have an initial distribution of 100,000.
The first issue will be published on October 31, after the Spring 2012 fashion shows in Paris this week. Mr Standen says the team will look at increasing the frequency after the first few issues.
So far, Mr Standen says his sales team is “pretty happy with how they’re doing with this first issue”. Yet it remains to be seen if advertisers will follow Style.com off the web and on to the printed page.
“Even though the economic climate is uncertain we’re seeing fashion advertisers start to invest again,” says Mr Renard. “If that’s the case, it may be a great time for the launch. But there’s always a risk.”
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