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April last year, a time where Condé Nast, the giant publishing house of Vogue and Tatler but to name a few, was reporting an enormous investment into its digital platforms. Receptive design was hailed as the solution to bridging the gap between print and online, whilst in the mean time one of it’s own print publications was drowning in a saturated industry barely keeping it’s head above water.

A mere four weeks later Easy Living, the fashion and lifestyle magazine with a circulation of approximately 150,000, announced the end to its print publication insisting the magazine was “thriving online.” Sales had crashed since 2007 by roughly 50,000 with the magazine only selling approximately 30,300 hard copies from the newsstands to non-subscribers.

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Easy Living, which closed it’s print business last year

The closure sent shivers down the spine of publishing houses throughout the UK, putting 30 skilled editorial roles at risk. But this was no isolated incident with woman’s weekly magazine, More and Auto-trader both bowing out of the print industry entirely with a cataclysmic bang. The horizon looked hazardous for the print publication.

Yet amongst the burnt out ashes of publications closed the birth of three new publications has risen. The global luxury e-commerce website Net-a-Porter today launches its print publication ‘Porter’. A brand new glossy magazine being considered more of a ‘coffee table book’ or collectable.

In an interview with Imran Ahmed, editor of The Business of Fashion, Natalie Massenet, the CEO of Net-a-Porter describes the magazine as being a part of the ‘over crowded’ industry – not an addition. She is adiment the publishing department of the company will stand as a profitable entity in it’s own right, not subsided by the e-commerce majority.

“When we talked to our woman what came through was that they were craving for something global,” said Vice President Tess McLeod-Smith. “They were buying 3 – 5 global magazines a month and travelling 11 times a year and asked if we could supply them with that.

We realized it had to be global like The Edit, or The Economist. There’s one edition, printed in English that circulates the world. “

Net-A-Porters approach is far more niche. Their woman is one the majority may not relate to, and so for this media platform the magazine is aimed at the customer base more than ever.

Coming from an e-commerce website firstly and moving into print the process Net-A-Porter have taken seems upside down to most. The company founded it’s e-commerce website in the year 2000 and is this week venturing into print media. “Think of this as an omni-media play,” adds Natalie Massenet.

So is the savior of the print magazine to turn the entire concept of a magazine into a collectable, with fewers print issues and a higher ‘investement’ price point? “The likes of Porter isn’t a monthly publication, so it’s the whole idea of it being a collectable or something to continuously look back on,” says Colin Dawidziuk, European Fashion Features Director of digital magazine Kenton.

“Because they [Net-A-Porter] has a digital background they have the potential to utilize unique shopping functions. For example, with Porter you can hover over a page with an app and voila – the page becomes instantly shoppable.” He adds: “something Vogue and Elle aren’t really capable of doing just yet because they’re not driven by an e-commerce site.”

Porter isn’t the only magazine to turn a process of reading a fashion magazine into an interactive shopping experience. Clique magazine, the first instant shoppable magazine launches issue two this week. The monthly glossy, with it’s very own downloadable app (which is essential for scanning pages to buy product instantly) has turned the idea of fashion shoots on it’s head. Full colour pages of thought provoking fashion editorial are now instantly shoppable through the click of a button. Clique has effectively brought together the traditional platform of print with the modern day habits of the online shopper.

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The first issue of Clique Magazine

So what came first the magazine or the e-commerce website? “If I had the investment to launch the magazine in the late 90s I would have.” Natalie Massenet tells The Business of Fashion. Yet it seems the digital business model is, effectively, the new business model giving birth to print.

Porter is available to buy on news stands the 7th February.

See the Business of Fashion’s original interview with Porter magazine here

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