Porter: The Brand Mag That’ll Eat Vogue’s Lunch

By Ella Riley-Adams February 10th, 2014

Vogue, look out. A brand publisher is gunning for you.

Luxury online retailer Net-a-Porter just released the first issue of its glossy new print mag, Porter, and it might just be the most impressive and ambitious brand publication ever. It will sell on on newsstands worldwide, and supermodel Gisele Bündchen is on the cover, with power players like Angela Ahrendts and Uma Thurman inside. Lucy Yeomans, former editor of Harper’s Bazaar UK, serves as Porter’s editor-in-chief. The New York Fashion Week launch party attracted the likes of Jenna Lyons and Mario Testino. And for all of you already screaming “What about ROI?!” it’s fully integrated with a shoppable digital edition.

While this move is undoubtedly bold, it’s hardly surprising from a company like Net-a-Porter. “We’ve talked about how the Net-a-Porter Group is actually not just a retail company, but it’s a media company. And if we’re a serious media company we couldn’t ignore one of the most important existing media, which is print,” Natalie Massenet, Net-a-Porter’s founder, told the Business of Fashion. “We said if we’re going to do a print magazine, let’s do a great print magazine… and then the wizardry of the Net-a-Porter Group comes behind the scenes in shopability, personal service, customer care, globalness.”

Indeed, Net-a-Porter has long been using content to connect customers to luxury brands like Lanvin and Alexander McQueen. The Edit, its a weekly digital magazine, showcases trends, travel recommendations, and beauty tips. When readers click an item of clothing, they’re directed to its point of purchase. Mr. Porter, Net-a-Porter’s menswear counterpart, produces The Journal, an online publication that was distributed in print in the Hamptons last summer.

But Massanet sees Porter as much more than a magazine. “We’re building a physical temple to our brand—like Apple did with stores,” he said in a #FashionInConversation talk at a NYC Apple Store last week. Porter is meant to be a lasting, more intimate look into the minds of fashion’s most interesting people. It will be published six times a year and distributed in 60 countries, though consistently published in American English. “It’s the first global edit in English, a bit like The Economist where one edition goes around the world,” Tess MacLeod Smith, Net-a-Porter’s publishing director, told B of F.

It has a price tag that mirrors The Economist—$9.99, or $4 more than Vogue.

Porter’s launch mirrored the magazine’s global ambitions. In one week, the team threw parties in New York, London, and Sydney. And for a little more attention, Porter took over Hudson News in Grand Central, lining the store with magazines and posters. (You can follow the entire journey on their Instagram.)

With an initial print run of 400,000, Porter has a ways to go to catch Vogue, but their digital platform and war chest give them a head start. In the quippy words of the Independent, “The devil wears Prada—but may just fear Porter.”

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Image by Porter
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