Porter magazine: bags of influence

Posted by: Paul Keers, White Light Media

Sometimes it’s great to see the tail wag the dog.

The tail in this case is Porter, the fashion magazine being launched by Net-a-Porter. The dog is glossy newsstand publishing.

For a successful modern e-commerce retailer like Net-A-Porter to launch a branded print magazine is hugely significant. They’ve long demonstrated that they understand the value of content; they have former newsstand magazine editors on their staff, and they’ve already published website features, branded books and digital magazines. Now, they’re bringing out a newsstand magazine, promoting fashion with all of the style and names (and cover price) of an established glossy.

But of course, as a retail business, they have made sure that Porter will sell product. So scan its paper pages with their Net-A-Porter app, and you’ll be taken straight to shop it online.

Which is why the glossy magazine publishers are worried. Because of course fashion brands are excited by a publication which not only promotes their products in style, it sells them and delivers them too. And which is easier – for magazines which promote clothes to find a way to sell them? Or for a company that sells clothes to find a way to promote them?

The latter, of course, is where we come in. An editorial publication which promotes a range of branded products on behalf of a single retailer? We’d call it a customer magazine. And when the Editor of Vogue dismisses Porter as “a grand Sainsbury’s magazine”, well, to us that seems no criticism at all.

For several reasons, the launch of Porter could exert significant influence on our industry’s clients:

  • It reminds retailers and brands of the power of editorial content, not only to communicate, but also to sell.
  • It highlights how successfully ecommerce can pair with editorial. Their off-the-paper purchasing could provide a model for other clients. If Porter can do it, so could an individual brand…
  • It demonstrates a commitment to print, from a brand embedded in digital. As Net-A-Porter founder Nathalie Massanet says, “Just because we are disrupting print, changing it, doesn't mean we don't love it."
  • It proves that branded editorial can sit comfortably alongside its most sophisticated newsstand equivalent – and rattle its commercial cage.

The fashion industry, the glossy magazine publishers and the e-commerce retailers will all be watching Porter. We should be watching too.

Posted by: Paul Keers, London Bureau Chief, White Light Media

Posted in CMA blog
7thFeb 2014

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