This season's It-mag?
Fashion site Style.com has branched out from digital to print. Will the paper version of a web hit be a real page turner?
In this digital age, consumers have never been more spoilt for choice when it comes to how, where and when they find out about the latest developments in fashion, whether it's through a now almost old-fashioned visit to a website on a desktop computer, a browse through a digital publication downloaded to a tablet device or via logging on any number of social networks on a mobile phone.
So in this world of bits and pixels, depending on your perspective, a venture to bring a digital forum into the physical world could be viewed as contrary, risky or downright mad. Nevertheless, Style.com has chosen to nail its colours to the masthead and create a print version of its immensely popular site. With 247 million page views in February alone and being part of the Condé Nast stable, though, this isn't an independent blogging minnow, but a very big fish. Tied to the international fashion collections, rather than the retail season, the new issue – documenting the recent autumn/winter 2012 collections – is due to hit newsstands and land on subscribers' doormats this week.
Dirk Standen, editor-in-chief, explains: "It might sound counterintuitive, but we realised that a magazine would not only be fun and profitable but could also be produced fairly quickly. It's the first in a series of initiatives that will come to fruition in the next few months.
"The nature of the magazine; its focus on the current collections, means that you can only plan so much in advance. It has to be reported live."
And who better to do so than Style.com's esteemed contributors, a team that works flat out during the show schedules to ensure that an insightful and engaging review is posted within hours of the presentation of a collection.
"It's the same team, the same voice, the same subject matter. It will develop over time," says Standen, of what can simplistically be referred to as a "brand extension". "What they share is a mindset – the idea of taking the reader behind closed doors and opening up the system to a new, global fashion audience."
Global is a key word here, as Standen explains that the international response has been overwhelming. The first issue was distributed through newsstands in America, the UK, Italy, France and Singapore only, with readers in other countries ordering issues online. In response, distribution has been expanded to include Germany, Spain, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Canada, while every region which sold Issue One has increased its order for its follow up. He said: "In this issue we go further behind the scenes than I've seen anyone go. Together it adds up to a vivid picture of the pressures and rewards that designers face today and the way they use their determination and instinct to prevail."
Delving behind the scenes is a running theme as each capital is explored differently. In New York, news editor Matthew Schneier shadows Joseph Altuzzara, the young Parisian whose show was declared by many as the hit of the week, in Paris the venerable Tim Blanks dives into conversation with Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld while the trip to London sees the capital through the eyes of young star JW Anderson.
"I don't think readers want to wait six months any more. They want an instant record of the season that they can use as a reference tool over time," says Standen. "We felt that there was an opportunity, because nobody else seemed to be doing that [working to the collections rather than the retail schedule].
"Immediacy has always been an important part of Style.com. We are a global brand with a global audience, but in the end, having an immediate, international feel may be less the result of some master plan than just an expression of who we are."
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