As the ongoing democratization of fashion continues, there has been a drastic shift in the role of the industry’s so-called gatekeepers. And nobody is as much a gatekeeper as the fashion editor. Usually seen front row at shows, these tastemakers have historically been the bridge between the designs and the customers.
“Covering shows has changed dramatically. What we used to do was go, come back, look at our boards and see what’s the story we want to tell our audiences,” said Joyann King, editor of HarpersBazaar.com on this week’s Glossy Podcast. “Now, we’re giving them that information directly from the ground. They want to see everything right then. In some ways we’re editing on the job.”
Edited highlights from this week’s episode are below.
Editors still hold the power
While the rise of Instagram may have changed the business in terms of making the newest looks instantly accessible by everyone, King said editors still get more access — which is why people still read fashion magazines, both in print and on the internet. “Digital editors still have access nobody else does,” she said.
And in some ways, the brands need them there more than ever
King gave the example of the Tom Ford show this week, an exclusive show where the collection was available to buy the very next day — a new thing for the designer. But, since the show itself was so exclusive — limited to mostly celebrities — there were no editors at digital publishers that could spread the word. “He was trying to be a gatekeeper,” she said. “But where were all the clothes on social media to get the girl into the store to buy them?”
Fashion publishers can be good at e-commerce
It’s been five years since Harper’s Bazaar launched ShopBazaar, an e-commerce component to its magazine. And increasingly, e-commerce is being embraced by a wide swath of publishers. “The idea for ShopBazaar was that we were already America’s best fashion store. We should connect readers with the product ourselves,” she said. Internally, that has meant a reshuffle and an understanding of getting e-commerce editors to not focus on volume of sales, but instead reinforce messaging like, “this is the bag you have to buy.” Saleswise, the company has found the most revenue driven when it offers something exclusive.
Harper’s Bazaar is trying to not be over-reliant on Facebook
The magazine and its online publication embrace a “high-low” approach that mixes features with quick, buzzy content. But King said she is aware of platform dependence. “We used to have a BuzzFeed trending strategy on Facebook. We ditched that,” she said. The goal now is not to optimize for traffic, but to write stories King or her staff care about. The barometer: “Would I find this fun?” she said.