By Margretta Sowah
When was the last time you purchased a glossy magazine? You know, the ones with a shiny finishing coat and eye catching, type-esqe features like: FROM POSH TO PUNK – how piercings became the hottest new accessory. GET RICH QUICK – how other women like you are cashing in and (I feel half embarrassed, half facetious writing this…), ORGASM MASTERCLASS – why women like you are signing up for sex school, (ELLE Australia, February & March 2015 editions).
Spending upwards of $8 Australian on a magazine doesn’t seem like a necessary purchase, especially when you can interact (shop, read, view, chat) on your phone, tablet or even a watch! – As a non-watch wearer I can’t seriously justify spending over a thousand dollars on Apple’s new iWatch, for basically time and energy, not to mention the chiropractic bill for abnormal neck strain. Does anyone remember when LG released fridges with internet access on the doors? Hm… I digress once more; who still uses old school pick-up lines like asking someone cute for the time, or a lighter? In this digital age it doesn’t matter if you’re anti-clock or just can’t seem to make it to twelve, if you follow my drift. The availability and accessibility of newly pressed content is across all platforms, bringing likeminded people to the online marketplace for various reasons.
Whether you subscribe digitally or with more traditional modes, content (information and experiences created) is still the primary reason for purchasing from a brand. Humans are naturally blessed (and cursed) with curiosity. We want to know how, why, what, (when) did she (wear) that? And (where) can I get it? In the print publication industry there are major makeovers in progress – a huge ‘wardrobe’ change, so to speak.
Articles, panels and forums are speaking up about internal and external rumblings that need urgent and ethical solutions. Fashion Week, the NYE of the Industry, has been infiltrated by “smart” technology, ushered in with the new front-row of social experts. These invitees are bloggers, public social figures and digital socialites. In the one-size-does-not-fit-all Mecca of Fashion, are people still interested in educated, opinionated and constructive editorials? Are they still relevant? Or just another trendy and convincing voice in a sea of information? #CopyRated?
Madonna’s iconic song Vogue has made the line, ‘what are you looking at?’ infamous. It is no secret that magazine sales have dropped over the recent years. The music industry is suffering also, people just aren’t consuming tracks the way they used to. According to Mia Freeman of Mumbrella.com.au, 51k copies of Vogue per month are sold and 54k copies of Harpers Bazaar are sold. Vogue online, however, has 1.1 million active users per month. This is a huge gap.
Is buying a Vogue with Rihanna on the cover any more valuable than RiRi’s personal Instagram (@BadGalRiRi) for her story, words and photos – unfiltered? Vogue Australia’s Instagram has 6.1m followers, where as Rihanna has 26m followers. Yes, they are different markets but both benefit from each other’s business. Who can say or prove which is the fairest of them all? It isn’t always a numbers game.
Membership to this club is not easily attained either (ask Kanye West – he knows all about that). This point is proven by the continual disregard for issues around fat-shaming/skinny shaming models and excluding a large portion of consumers – if the average, healthy woman can’t fit into [x] designer’s clothing because size 10 is considered ‘Plus Size’ then we have a problem; racism – it matters today, will tomorrow and the next, mis-representation in the form of social ignorance (cultural appropriation), elitism, too high/too low price points and the issue of sustainability.
We need to use any form of communication and attention to highlight these issues. The more avenues Fashion is able to use for social and economic change, the better it is for us as a culture. We are attracted to the glits and glamour of the stories fashion can weave.
Influencers & Experts
Credibility online is as easy to find as an Uber on a Friday night. All that is needed is a platform for engagement and promotion. Bloggers (Vlogging, personal blogs, and sharing platforms like Periscope) are making millions of fashionable dollars by relating to an audience. Does the beauty Vlogger Em Ford, with over 300k followers on Youtube, have more social relevance than an experienced Make-Up artist with key industry insights and extensive product knowledge?
Logically, we assume the more we have, the better [x] will be. The more M&Ms in a packet, the better. The more time you spend at a job, the better. The more followers someone has, the more social credibility is received, right? Instagram allows us to showcase pictures with stylised filters. Anyone these days can be as good as a professional photographer, at least on first glance. This shift has strategically spotlighted profiles with a high number of followings. Most of us would easily confuse some of these social pages for Experts – instead of Influencers.
An Expert can critically, objectively and passionately articulate a researched and purpose-driven perspective. An Influencer can and should use expert information (with accreditation) to guide and inspire their contemporaries, organically and with relevance. These two brands in their own right – the Expert and the Influencer – need to advocate for our industry by playing and catering to the unconscious consumer need to desire and acquire.
It is easy to believe the hype of print approaching its final publication but there are still paper lovers, willing to wait month by month while still engaging online platforms and content. In my opinion the best thing about a fashion magazine is the soft (lightly scented) 50+ pages of forecasted trends, beauty products reviews, naughty occasional tear-out Q&As and not to mention the layouts – print will always be a visual delight. The expectations may be different with each platform but the goal is still the same – to sell the dream.
I don’t believe as consumers we need to decide one platform over the other. Technology has created these multiple-choice variety machines, competing for our short attention spans. Society is constantly seeking to feel more connection… even if it’s through WiFi.
To steal a Sex and the City quote; “I like my money where I can see it. In my closet.” I say, less where more wear.