Vogue recently won a Webby, but when it comes to online influence fashion blogs are beating out the behemoth when it comes to links, social media activity and general buzz.
Granted it’s the power blogs that consistently take the top spots in our ranking of influential fashion blogs; but using the exact same ranking criteria, bloggers are edging out magazines who (often) have larger staffs and larger budgets when it comes to influencing readers online.
That’s not to say fashion magazines are failing. Although it took them a while, nearly all of the magazines on the list are actively investing in their websites, rather than using them as digital subscription forms. Glamour created their own blogger network; Elle hired the editor of an influential blog to breathe new life into theirs (a move that’s paid off); and though Style.com is now an online property of its own, the former online home to Vogue and W was a big part of propelling the reigning influential fashion blog (the Sartorialist) to where it is now. While magazines aren’t exactly the ostriches they once were when it comes to building an online presence, the fact that Tavi, a single teen blogger from the Chicago suburbs, is influencing nearly as many people as the entire online staff of Teen Vogue can’t be ignored though.
We spend so much time on an objective ranking of fashion blogs, however, precisely because there are still many people who do ignore independent and online only publishers and try to write off the significant audience shift in fashion media as a passing fad. Print isn’t dead when it comes to fashion media – advertisers will keep it alive; but digital is the future, and it’s a future where a multitude of strong individual voices can rival the influence of a more prominent, institutional few. That said, the structure of influential blogs is increasingly similar to that of print publications, and probably not so different from their online departments. While there are more than a few solo acts topping the rankings, increasingly it’s fashion blogs with multiple editors, writers and support staff competing with and pushing the magazines out of the top spots.
This list of magazine sites isn’t as exhaustive as the index of fashion blogs that we rank. You’ll notice that most are for the US editions of international magazines, but in nearly every case the US editions receive more traffic, link and social activity than their international counterparts so we thought they were a good place to start. In our September update, we’ll examine the influence of international magazine websites compared to bloggers in more depth.
For now though we ask; if pitted against fashion blogs, how would magazine websites rank when it comes to online influence?
Score: 84 Rank if included in the top 99: 2
The former home of Vogue and W helped establish the Sartorialist, so perhaps it’s fitting that if included, the Sartorialist is the only blog that would rival (and top) their influence.
Score: 79 Rank if included in the top 99: 3
The men’s print style bible would just barely push men’s online style bible Hypebeast into 4th place.
Score: 77 Rank if included in the top 99: 5
Style.com certainly has the strongest lead, but Glamour‘s put a respectable effort into building their online presence with a blogger network and dedicated online content. Looking strictly at current magazine websites, Glamour‘s is the most influential women’s style site in the US.
Score: 74 Rank if included in the top 99: 6
Elle is a few points away from Glamour, but the popular magazine has worked with bloggers through the Style Coalition for some time now, and brought in former Fashionista editor Brit Aboutaleb to lead editorial for their online efforts. The Elle blog is one of the few magazine blogs with enough influence to rank in the top 99 independent of the parent website.
Score: 73 Rank if included in the top 99: 9
Vogue got off to a late start with their website, and there have been a few notable bumps along the way, but they recently received a Webby and Anna Wintour has been vocal about making the website a priority. For the moment though they still can’t beat Stylelist, the super blog formerly led by AOL, now revamped and revitalized by chief executive blog builder Arianna Huffington.
And men’s style blog High Snobiety leads them both.
Score: 71 Rank if included in the top 99: 10
Score: 70 Rank if included in the top 99: 11
Score: 70 Rank if included in the top 99: 12
Marie Claire is the closest to catching up with Vogue online, but both InStyle and Allure are only marginally ahead of Refinery29, who are blogging their way towards a $20 million valuation.
Score: 70 Rank if included in the top 99: 14
Score: 69 Rank if included in the top 99: 15
Readership for teen print publications has been dropping off for a while, and many people blamed the web. While Seventeen and Teen Vogue are doing well online, they’re only slightly ahead of the Fug Girls, Garance Dore and Tavi, indicating that teens probably weren’t exactly sitting on their hands while waiting for the print publications to get themselves together online.
Score: 66 Rank if included in the top 99: 22
Harper’s Bazaar has never had the circulation of Elle or Vogue, but the pronounced focus on building their online audience hasn’t been there in the same way either. Again, we wouldn’t say they’re exactly suffering on the web, but the entire online Harper’s Bazaar team would still be behind the singular efforts of Yvan Rodic’s FaceHunter, Rumi Neely’s Fashion Toast and Alix of the Cherry Blossom Girl.
Score: 65 Rank if included in the top 99: 23
Of all the major fashion magazines, Lucky’s online site is lowest on the list. Sure, readers are visiting for the Lucky deals and different online shopping collaborations, but the site still has a long way to go. Newly installed editor-in-chief Brandon Holley has print experience and led editorial at Shine, Yahoo’s US-targeted women’s site, so hopefully come September a bit more attention to online partnerships and audience building will lend the beleaguered publisher a little more luck.
Fashion Magazines or Fashion Bloggers: Who’s More Influential Online? by YM Ousley originally appeared on Signature9
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