Monday, January 17, 2011

Brands Create Media Outlets Online, Bypassing Magazines

In the not-so-distant past, a luxury brand like Richemont, the Swiss company that owns Piaget, Dunhill and Montblanc, would have killed for even the slightest attention from Jeremy Langmead, the editor of British Esquire.

Now, he works for them, building a menswear e-commerce site.

Luxury brands have always advertised in the likes of Vogue, Esquire and Architectural Digest and tried to impress their editors enough to get mentioned in the editorial pages, as well. But now companies like Richemont are reaching out directly to consumers — and cutting out the middlemen.

Last year, Richemont acquired control of Net-A-Porter, the 10-year-old online luxury fashion retailer founded by the British magazine editor Natalie Massenet. When it first began, people in the industry sniffed at Net-A-Porter, suggesting it was just a tatty e-commerce site masquerading as digital fashion magazine.

They’re not sniffing anymore. Net-A-Porter sold for over half a billion dollars, making it one of the most expensive purchases of a consumer publisher — if that’s what it is — in many years. ...