The question of online versus print is a constant hot issue with big newspapers closing their doors and moving on to digital editions. Is the future of fashion magazines looking any brighter?
Fantastic Man and The Gentlewoman
Is fashion publishing moving towards niche publications?
In the fashion industry, the general consensus seems to be that fashion has been very slow to adapt to the internet. Advertisers (without whom magazines can't survive) are still investing a lot of money in the print media, so there will be a future for fashion magazines, especially the more specialised and niche publications, of which Fantastic Man (edited by Jop van Bennekom and Gert Jonkers) and The Gentlewoman (edited by Penny Martin) are the most obvious examples. Reminiscent of a book in both volume and content and setting a high editorial standard with their personality-based long-form journalism, Fantastic Man and The Gentlewoman are magazines you keep on the shelf after reading and return to them every once in a while like you would to, yes, a really great book.
Another reason why I believe the digital versions of fashion magazines won't completely take over is that fashion is above all visual. Many readers feel that beautiful photography and layout don't translate equally well on screens. I love technology and get some fashion magazines through apps, but my preferred way of absorbing fashion visuals remains magazines and books. Last but not least, the glossy paper and the addictive smell of a fresh magazine straight from the printing house are irreplaceable appetisers before the luxury you're about to find in the magazine's pages.
Spread from The Gentlewoman
Print and digital: a marriage of convenience?
I believe the smartest practice regarding print and online is to have them complement each other. The emergence of something new doesn't mean you have to ditch everything that existed before. Coincidentally or not, this ties into a fascinating recent development: several projects that started online are now going into print. ASOS and Style.com publish their own magazines, and Net-A-Porter has announced they'll launch theirs this year.
Newspapers fail because we get news online, often as they're happening, so by the time they appear in print the next day, they're old news. The future of fashion magazines, known more for in-depth features and editorials, is well-researched, atemporal, high quality content you won't find anywhere else. Bright enough for you?