I'm not suggesting for one minute that Suzy Menkes is going to retire anytime soon, nor that she hasn't got many more years to go.
However, what is the post-Suzy strategy for the newspaper?
Without a shadow of a doubt she is the single biggest star journalist the IHT has (sorry Mr. Cohen) and she won't be around for ever. Which is a problem because no other journalist delivers more advertising dollars than her pages, year in, year out.
Here's a glimpse of the future, in an article from the NYT. I must check if the IHT has run it....
Not a word about Suzy.
Why the IHT hasn't done something similar online off the back of the Suzy brand name, while she is still with them, is beyond me.
Where the Fashionistas Go for a Quick Fix
Conceived to mimic mainstream glossies, titles like Hintmag.com, Fashion156.com and Glossmag.ca draw international readerships in the hundreds of thousands. But unlike their newsstand competitors, these publications exist exclusively online, updating weekly or even daily, and offering a sense of community that conventional monthlies cannot replicate. What they lack in tactile attraction, they make up for with a multimedia experience encompassing still photography, music, videos, blogs and message boards teeming with opinionated commentary. And if they are not about to slice into the profits of an Elle or a Vogue any time soon, the stars of the genre are luring advertisers, too.
In the current issue of Unvogue.com, a Webzine with a multiethnic following, readers can pore over pictures of athletic hipsters, natty on the tennis court in shorts and stiff-pressed blazers; they can read about novel ways to wear a vest; or “page” with a click to coverage of the antics of the tattooed late-night set.
Well-heeled fans of Luxuryculture.com, based in Paris, will encounter a multipage feature about Aurelie Bidermann, a jewelry designer whose silver-dipped lace collars and cuffs are sold at upscale stores. Fashion is part of a rarefied lineup that includes articles on the emergent art scene in Qatar and Abu Dhabi and a lavish pictorial on family safaris in Africa.
“People still like flipping a page and experiencing great photographs on paper,” said Imran Amed, the publisher of The Business of Fashion, a Web news site. But a Webzine, he said, “can be much more dynamic, change its content faster, create dialogue with a bunch of people passionate about the same topic, and push the envelope in getting them to interact.”
That speed of access and a clubby feeling give Webzines an edge with readers whose need to track down the latest cult jean or downtown boîte borders on compulsion. “These people are the influentials, and they have moved to the Internet,” said Samir Arora, the chief executive of Glam Media, which places advertising on glam.com, its aggregate of fashion and lifestyle sites. “Their tastes are redefining the future of fashion on the Web.”
The challenge for a Web magazine is to find ways of reaching them. Most online publishers are self-styled cyberfrontiersmen, struggling to differentiate their sites from the wilderness of chatty blogs, columns and newsletters, few of which have a distinct identity.
The fashion Webscape is “a very blurry world right now,” said Joe Mandese, the editor of MediaPost.com, an online business publication. “Everything is kind of a mash-up.” Sites and blogs, he said, are trying to incorporate the kinds of photography and video that have long been the province of print or TV. To stand out, a Webzine needs content that is memorable while sticking with a format that readers will find familiar.
“We wanted people to realize this is just like a fashion magazine,” said Lee Carter, the founder and editor of Hintmag.com.
Accordingly, Hint, which has, since its debut a decade ago, transformed itself from a gossip-laden Web site into a virtual glossy, is built on content that mirrors that of Nylon or W. Highlights in the current issue include a nine-page fashion feature that shows a Siouxsie Sioux imposter vamping moodily in a clothing and accessories by Martin Grant, Viktor & Rolf and others.
In a magazine-length interview, the graphic designer and branding guru Fabien Baron filled readers in on the “unspoken seduction that goes on in meeting Madonna for the first time.” A lightly macabre animated feature titled “Drawing Blood” showcases designs by Balenciaga and Comme des Garçons, set to the music of Munk and Annie.
Hint and other Webzines take their merchandising cues from print magazines, identifying the wares they feature with on-screen brand and store credits or links. A few have made shopping their primary focus. Net-a-Porter Notes (net-a-porter.com), a weekly catalog dressed up as a magazine, a kind of upscale Lucky, posts trend stories, including one in its July 30 issue that talks up new colors for fall. Readers can buy the berry-tone Phillip Lim dress on its pages by clicking directly on it.
The site Iconique.com shows off the work of new illustrators, stylists, photographers and a handful of fledgling designers. So does the London-based Fashion156.com, plucking new faces from design school obscurity. “The whole thrust of our magazine is to provide a platform for emerging talent,” said Guy Hipwell, the editor and founder.
In contrast to traditional magazines, which decide their content months before going to press, a Webzine can update almost instantly, Mr. Hipwell pointed out. “I can literally go to a graduate design show and get the work up on screen the next day.”
His 2-year-old site, published every 12 days and reaching an audience of about 250,000, was created for an estimated $40,000. Mr. Hipwell would not disclose his cost per issue, but acknowledged that he publishes on a shoestring, offering contributors nominal fees or prominent credits and Web links in exchange for work. He operates, of course, without the daunting overhead of real estate, printing and distribution costs.
Though sites like his are proliferating, they often vanish within weeks, which makes the number of online fashion magazines difficult to track. Some struggle for revenues, but a few are drawing blue chip advertisers, including Neiman Marcus, Tiffany and Lancôme. Advertisers can pay $10,000 to $50,000 to promote their products on a Webzine.
Some provide links to their Web sites; others a top-of-page banner or a “skin,” which takes over the white background of a Web page. Some provide a full-color interactive page masquerading as a fashion feature. In a recent edition of Net-a-Porter Notes, Aquascutum took the imaginative leap of inviting the viewers of its page to peek behind the scenes of its ad shoot by clicking to a video.
As Mr. Mandese and his peers point out, advertisers migrate to the Web because it can be cheaper and more cost effective. Gucci is paying $50,000 to be the exclusive sponsor of a three-month fall campaign on Hintmag.com. A single color page in a leading fashion glossy can cost $60,000 to $110,000.
Results of online advertising are also more readily measured. Sales and traffic can be tracked by reader click-throughs to marketers’ Web sites.
Advertising is often placed on a group of sites through increasingly powerful and competitive “vertical” networks like AdBrite, Adcision and Glam Media, a behemoth that operates more than 600 sites and has 77 million unique worldwide visitors a month, according to comScore Media Metrix.
“Arguably the networks represent the threat to print from online,” said Barry Parr, a media analyst with Forrester Research. But he added that for an advertiser, “there is nothing you can do on the Web that can substitute for the impact of an eight-page insert in the September Vogue.”
Others counter that Webzines are even now siphoning revenues from their print-world cousins. “The preponderance of ad spending is still in the traditional media,” Mr. Mandese said. But, he said, as marketers reach for Web audiences, which are widely perceived as hipper and more influential than those for print, “we are going to see a rationalization to shift money online just because it looks good.”
Many traditional magazines have struggled to find an online audience, often because their content so closely mimics the print and because they aim for the mainstream.
“Readers’ interests have becoming increasingly and deeply fragmented,” Mr. Arora said. To cater to those interests, Webzines are poaching print-world editors respected for their expertise in subjects that vary from models to designer mules.
“In the future there won’t be one all-powerful fashion editor — there will be many,” Mr. Arora said. “We are looking for the 20 new Anna Wintours.”
International Herald Tribune
New York Times