What is it with the Vogue franchise and its inability to figure out how to handle the power women of Silicon Valley? First US Vogue comes under fire (as does its subject) for photographing Yahoo chieftain Marissa Mayer (left) reclining glamorously in full fashion regalia on a chaise, and now UK Vogue is being castigated for the mistaken (that’s my take, not theirs) decision to label Ms Mayer et al “SWAGs:” Silicon wives and girlfriends.
There’s a new competitor in the etail space, with a relatively original hook. This is, of course, the brass ring of on-line selling, where it is increasingly apparent that the first to a new idea (or a newish permutation of an old idea) wins big, and everyone else – well, seems to implode. So what is this Next Big Thing? Blake Mycoskie, the founder and CEO of Tom’s – the footwear and now eyewear company with a 1:1 selling/giving model – has launched an on-line department store called Marketplace that showcases 200 products from 30 brands founded with a charity component as part of their modus operandi. Think of it as Nordstrom’s – or Selfridge’s – meets Chime for Change.
Today’s announcement that Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts was leaving (mid-next year) to become Apple’s head of retail, and current Chief Creative Officer/designer Christopher Bailey was taking her place while retaining his design responsibilities has the potential to change not just fashion but tech, and the inter-relationship between the two. Hyperbole? I don’t think so. Consider the Butterfly effect:
The news yesterday that Marco Zanini, former creative director of Rochas, would become the new creative director of the relaunched House of Schiaparelli, which would also join the couture calendar, is the sort of news that normally would send the fashion world into such a frenzied show of breast-beating (what will happen to Rochas!!) and excitement (what will this mean for Schiaparelli?!) it would put the actual shows on the runway to shame. Except this time no one batted an eyelash. They yawned, and moved on. How’d that happen? Expectations management via social media. There are lessons here for us all.
It is one of the great ironies of the digital age that, in order to get people’s attention, the best way to do it is with a physical product. Last night, in Paris, the web site the Business of Fashion hand-delivered, ‘round midnight to a big chunk of the fashion crowd, a thin, matte paper magazine entitled “The BoF 500,” aka the Fashion 500. Catchy title, no, for those all obsessed with the Fortune 500? What do you think THEY’RE going to be reading at breakfast/in the car/on the bleachers while they are bored waiting for shows to start (which is when you normally see a spike in Twitter traffic)? Way to grab some eyeballs! Way to be part of a trend! So what is it exactly?
The fashion world loves a ranking – the best-dressed list is a staple of the industry – so I guess it was only a matter of time before someone turned the tables and ranked fashion. That someone is Style.com, and their ranking bears the scarily high-school-like name “The In Cloud.” It’s a genius idea (and a great name), not necessarily because I think it’s reflective of any enormous insight, but because as a way to get EVERY FASHION PERSON checking in with the site on a regular basis – as a traffic-driver and influence-wielder – it’s non-pareil. But it also has certain startling omissions, which are meaningful.
And you thought it was all about self-promotion, or changing the (highly male) image of silicon valley, or positioning herself as the anti-Sheryl “I will never talk about anything as frivolous as clothes” Sandberg. Pshah. That super-controversial Marissa Mayer profile in the very enormous September issue of Vogue, which has ignited all sorts of hoo-ha on the internet, was actually about long-term Yahoo content creation, in an I’ll-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine kind of way. Who’s the canny chief executive now, naysayers?
The other day I was at a dinner arranged by the World Gold Council that featured the usual suspects – David Lamb, MD jewellery; jewellers Pamela Love and Janis Savitt – as well as one thing that was not like the others: Olivia Bolles, aka Olivia Bee, aka an 18-year-old photographic “protégé.” She had just started shooting the new “Love Gold” campaign, aimed at cooling-up the image of the yellow metal, which apparently suffers from a grandmother-complex among Gen Z. Which raises the question, is she a one-off, or the harbinger of change to come?
Today Lyst, the fashion site that allows you to personalise your own wanna-be closet, is adding a feature that its founder, Chris Morton, hopes will throw a big wrench into the e-shopping experience as we know it, and change the status quo. Specifically, it is introducing a universal shopping cart. Imagine it: you surf the web, find stuff from all over, and buy it in one place, with one card, in one stage.
Today Style.com is expanding its contributors list by about oh, say, 10 times, adding 60 new names at one blow (to its 6 person edit staff) by introducing a whole new section that presumably it hopes will 1) set it apart from all those other sites that now have on-line magazines; and 2) reposition it as not just a fashion news site, but a creative hub. Fine; we hear this sort of thing all the time. But what’s really interesting about this is what it reveals about the celebrity-fashion paradigm, and the way the web may be changing it.