The future of fashion in one word – precarious. In an increasingly digitised world, the old establishment of print media has thoroughly had its foundations rocked; a tide of 1s and 0s in the last decade has swept in and pulled its traditional form of monetary into a sea of unpredictability. No longer can media giants of bygone eras – the Vogues, Cosmopolitans and GQ’s of this world rely on the increasingly antiquated practise of selling magazines to consumers, as a way of making money and staying relevant, why? Well, ever since the emergence and eventual domination of Social Media platforms like Tumblr and Instagram, the world of fashion and its relationship to consumers has had a shakeup of biblical proportions.
For most millennials the old-world practise of waiting a month for the latest style trends, has rapidly become a foreign concept from the lost language of print. Instead, modern fashion enthusiasts have become more accustomed to merely picking up their phones and instantly being inundated with the latest in all things fashion from across the globe. Furthermore, why should your average consumer care what a millionaire behind a desk considers as fashionable, when they could easily and more cheaply copy a desired look straight from their favourite celebrities or friends on Instagram? It seems a new law of fashion has effectively been ushered in – 1st Amendment: fashion must be instantaneous. 2nd Amendment: fashion must fit on a four-inch screen.
Sure, at a glance all may seem lost. In actuality things aren’t as bleak as they may seem for print publications. Using Darwinism, publishing houses like Times Inc. and Conde Nast have survived and kept fit by evolving faster and more ingeniously than naysayers would have expected. Acknowledging the rapidly changing market place as well as launching themselves digitally, titles such as Vogue and Marie Claire have gone a step further by expanding their offerings as brands and finding more sophisticated ways of connecting with their audiences.
Over the course of its illustrious history, Vogue has always been the go to bible for fashion, the epicentre of style and purveyor of glamour ever since its inception 100 years ago. Vogue understanding this harnessed its reputation and people’s desire to have actual real world experiences rather than just material goods, by launching its eponymous festival merely five years ago to allow audiences to engage with the brand like never before. At the festival audience can attend talks given by famous designers like Dolce & Gabbana as well as meet and greets with style icons like Kim Kardashian, receive free beauty therapies or have a chance to take pictures for their own personal Vogue cover. Experience such as these are guaranteed to strengthen brand identity and allow consumers to feel closer to and more appreciated by Vogue, as they get to see the brand up close and personal.
Whilst publishing company Time Inc. have made incisive inroads into the continually exploding, multibillion dollar apps market place, with the acquisitions of fashion start-up Snap Fashion and by launching its own app called Powder. The innovative Snap Fashion allows users to take pictures of particular colours or shapes of their liking, then the intelligent algorithms of the app find the particular items of clothing or accessories that matches them. Whereas Powder allows users to create intricate beauty profiles and then recommends items based on each individual’s particular needs. Thus, Powder prides itself on being especially useful for people with skin types not usually catered to by the mainstream, such as sensitive skin or darker complexions. Also, Time Inc. utilises its strong relationship with big cosmetic and skin care brands to allow them to offer cut-price beauty boxes to buyers.
Finally, publication Marie Claire has even gone as far as opening up its own standalone store, Fabled by Marie Claire, which allows customers to have a shopping experience with a difference – the entire store is completely technology driven and stocks only premium brands. The venture would be the first time partner Ocardo (ecommerce) and Marie Claire have had a bricks and mortar store. Similar to Vogue, creating a tangible experience i.e. visiting a store, ensures Marie Claire remains further integrated into the lives of Fashion-Easters.
From Vogue running festivals to Time Inc. acquiring fashion start-ups and Marie Claire opening standalone stores, the upcoming years will signal the beginning of a commercial revolution for publications as they seek to capitalise on brand recognition and look for ever innovative means to reach customers, with the hope they can eventually fill the financial hole created by a declining readership. In the beginning of this piece I used the term precarious to describe fashions future, because whilst publications are quite rightly looking to embrace the digital revolution instead of rejecting it, doing so too aggressively may run the risk of eroding or worse alienating the original customer base that helped build the company up. All in all, the immediate future of print publications seems to be dimming, but for the companies as brands and commercial businesses it seems the dawn has only just started.