The fashion industry’s evolution didn’t just happen in the brand space, it also happened in media. Whereas so-called “fashion bibles” like Vogue and Elle once ruled what was fashionable, a new breed of publishers is changing how content is created and consumed.
At the forefront of this is Clique Media Group, the publisher behind websites like WhoWhatWear and My Domaine, which was arguably one of the first movers in the now common-combination of content and commerce, thanks to its entirely shoppable websites. Joining this week’s Glossy Podcast is Katherine Power, CEO of CMG, who chatted with us about the need for shoppability in the modern fashion publisher and what brands still don’t get about e-commerce. Edited highlights below.
Modern fashion media has to be more than content
Vertical publishers are cropping up everywhere, but Power said that fashion still lags behind. While in other categories publishers are recognizing the benefits of niche, focused audiences, Power has built her entire media empire on focused websites combined with product. WhoWhatWear is focused on fashion; My Domaine is for lifestyle; Byrdie is for beauty and the just-launched Obsessee, aimed at Gen Z females, publishes only on social media. But there’s also a Target line and a marketing agency inside CMG.
“We always knew we had to go beyond media, which is why we specifically built different brands instead of pulling everything up under one domain to get as much traffic as possible.”
The more things changed, the more they stay the same
A decade ago, CMG had to communicate to brands the benefits of bringing shoppability into media. “I felt frustrated when I’d see something in a magazine, have to flip to the back of book, get an 800-number, I’d call it and get a receptionist from a corporate office who had no idea what I was talking about when I referenced a great leather belt from page 16 of Elle magazine,” said Power, a former Elle editor. So she started explaining to brands the need to get on the Internet and partner with content companies. But now, she’s in the same position with mobile, she said. “We’re really having to educate clients and brand partners about it.”
Both fashion brands and publishers need to democratize
It used to be that big fashion houses and big publishers like Vogue would dictate what consumers would buy. The shift came when celebrities started influencing purchases and designers. Power specifically pointed to the time when Us Weekly became more of a gossip publication and the rise of the paparazzi began influencing style trends. (In 2005, Dior’s John Galliano sent models down the runway with looks informed by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, for example.) Now, the focus has shifted to street style — with regular consumers influencing fashion thanks to social media. “A lot of traditional brands and retailers sit there in legacy brand positioning and get consumers to come to them,” said Power. “You have to start with the consumer and tailor product accordingly. And that also applies not just to goods but also other things like the in-store experience.”