The landscape for fashion is like a desert; it’s constantly evolving and changing its shape based on outside factors. In past years, there was only one definitive source for your fashion fix: print media. Fast forward to today and that same desert landscape is now a bustling metropolis. The role of technology and digital media in fashion has become an integral part of the landscape. In the past, journalists and editors alike worked tirelessly to attend all of the invite-only catwalk shows and write for their dream publication, with the main goal to see their name on the glossy contributor’s page. Now though, through the mediums of blogging and online outlets, print media is being pushed aside and those same seats at the fashion shows are taken up by journalists armed with their smartphones and iPads, rather than pen and paper. Despite all of this, is there still a place for print magazines in the digital world?
With the growth of technology comes the increasing power of online media. Consumers are presented with a variety of sources for their fashion updates: blogs, live streams, television, social media, films and online magazines. Society is used to instant access and gratification provided by surfing the internet. We have a world of free information at our fingertips. Social Media News  statistics show that over the period of May 2017 YouTube had 15,300,000 Australia visitors for the month which has increased by 1 million since May 2016. Blogging site WordPress sat at 5,300,000 but has dropped by 200,000 since last year . Other social platform stats for the monthly period were as followed: Facebook being the most popular at 17,000,000, Instagram sits at 5,000,000, Twitter at 3,000,000 and Snapchat had a whopping 4,000,000 daily users!
Fashion Bloggers are always dressed to impress, armed with their iPhones and can be spotted in the front row of fashion shows, elite parties and shop openings . Over the years they have elucidated the once exclusive world of fashion journalism. As they continue to do this their followings are burgeoning as is their influence. Designer brands may technically be the focus for a fashion show, but in reality it’s these “influencers” who dominate the industry with their own version of journalism. Bloggers capture the show and then share this review from the comfort of their own home. The mid-2000’s had industry experts believing the growth and inclusion of fashion bloggers was an incursion . Vogue Italia editor-in-chief, Franca Sozzani questioned whether bloggers were necessary and the Independent declared fashion blogs to have no credibility. Blogging began as simple style commentary, however today bloggers are seen to be a conventional means of news-telling, as consumers relate to their “like me” opinions, which may not be credible.
In an interview with journalism graduate and famous fashion blogger behind Pretty Dresses in the Laundry, (http://prettydressesinthelaundry.com/) Kate Nutting shares her understanding of what she thinks about the future of fashion journalism.
Interview with Kate Nutting: edited on Adobe Premiere Pro and uploaded via YouTube.
THE social media platform of this generation is Instagram. Instagram allows users to capture, filter and upload pics of their interior, landscape, food and most commonly – fashion. Head of Fashion Partnerships at Instagram, Eva Chen says “Instagram has become the water cooler of the fashion community”. Therefore it must come as no surprise when a Facebook poll revealed that 57% of fashion enthusiasts find their style inspiration and trend news from Instagram (see Figure 1). A report conducted by visual marketing team Curalate, brought to light the impact that Instagram had during New York Fashion Week 2016. Over 472,000 images were shared via Instagram shared during the week.
Figure 1: Created on Microsoft-Excel, research by Cheianna Wilson in a Facebook poll.
Another increasingly popular app is Snapchat, where users upload short videos for audiences to view within 24 hours. The days have passed when fans had to wait for exclusive film footage to be released of their favourite designers’ fashion. Audience members, bloggers and backstage crew are now able to share the experience, as it happens, with their followers. All with a touch of a button. Publications have been inspired to use this attention-grabbing immediacy that Snapchat has created that suit audiences on-the-go. In the same way that magazine companies use Twitter and Facebook to engage and alert their readers, Snapchat allows this but in a different way to other platforms. Mobile Marketing Magazine published an article in December 2016 saying that Snapchat provides a sense of relatability as users see behind the scenes footage and candid shots being shared.
Market Research Company, Roy Morgan explains that people are spending more on experiences rather than ownership of physical things. Therefore companies are witnessing consumers move away from their traditional brand ownership – such as print magazines and engaging more with their digital presence. Magazines now have their monthly print edition as well as their 24/7 online content. Vogue.com.au is an online outlet for readers to go on a daily basis for fashion news, trends, advice and to connect with others. Vogue have successfully combined their traditional print magazine with their online presence for a multi-functional site. The Association of Magazine Publishers of Australia analysis explains that Vogue has engaged a large of amount of online readers with their forums and article content. This is exemplified as their international print audience was only 12.7 million in 2015, compared to their online views at 31.1 million per month.
Roy Morgan highlights that despite the decrease in print circulation and ownership, there has been an overall increase in readership. The total readership of women’s fashion print magazines was on a downward spiral since 2013. After falling from 1,270,000 to 1,082,000, “the category has performed a distinct turnaround, rising 10 percent back up in March 2017.” With Harper’s Bazaar print readership up 21.8% to 134,000 as well as their online interaction increasing by 46.3%. Similar results were acquired from Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle and Frankie (see Figure 2). For further information about Frankie head over to their website for more specific business stats or to Roy Morgan for more general info.
Figure 2: Graph created on Microsoft Excel based upon data from Roy Morgan Research
Online fashion retailers are extending their services to print magazines in order to drive sales, but is this a smart move within the digitally saturated society? Fashion brands ASOS and Net-a-Porter have taken publishing into their own hands by generating print magazine content in order to stimulate customer engagement and enter new sections of the market (see Figure 3). These brands use website and app orientated platforms for their customers to purchase goods. With Net-a-Porter reaching an audience of over 6 million and ASOS selling over 80,000 products a year. Despite their differing target audiences both brands’ clientele has increased since introducing a print magazine. Two Sides Australia executive director Kellie Northwood says print “has a longer dialogue with customers and can develop brand personalities, better control on how the brand is discussed and presented, and encourage loyalty. Online is good for getting attention, but the conversation is shortened and interrupted by other things, while print readers are focussed on the product.”
Figure 3: ASOS online store & Porter magazine
The sensory effect that a new edition of a print magazine has on consumers is breathtaking. Everything from the silky pages, to the alluring visual elements, make print magazines still desirable. Fashion print magazines haven’t completely disappeared because readers still enjoy the relaxation of flicking through beautifully curated information, rather than just scrolling through square images on an iPad.
Hear two opinions from young fashion enthusiasts about their love for print magazines.
The world of fashion will continue to change, no matter what trends seem to take it by storm. The advent of digital media and the online presence it has within fashion is only strengthening now as it is far easier to reach a much wider range of people. Although digital media will only get more and more popular, there will always be a place for print media within the fashion world. As magazine companies get smarter with advertisements and the integration of digital media in their issues, the only way is up for the fashion world, as both mediums hone their crafts and work together to provide a service to fit all tastes. Ex-editor of Elle magazine, Fiona McIntosh believes monthlies will still have their place, “It will be a smaller place, though. Monthlies are a quieter and more reflective piece than the hard and fast online experience.”
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