How’s this for a real-life version of the old adage if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em: Yesterday news dropped that Fairchild Fashion Media, owned by Conde Nast, had acquired the Nowmanifest fashion blogger network that’s home to such influential blogs as Bryanboy, Fashion Toast, Mr. Blasberg and Style By Kling for an undisclosed sum.
That means the world’s foremost publisher of print fashion media, Conde Nast, and FFM, owner of print fashion bible Women’s Wear Daily, have bought a network of bloggers that were once viewed as upstarts in the face of fashion’s old guard.
A few thoughts on why this matters, both for print and bloggy publications:
Fashion blogging gains mainstream legitimacy: Yes, many of us have thought fashion blogs to be legit fashion sources for a long time, but the establishment that is the fashion print media world has not been so quick to agree. But this acquisition illustrates that, while fashion blogs may never serve the same purpose or offer the same experience as traditional print publications, they are deemed equally important parts of the fashion media landscape not only in a cultural sense, but also in a financial sense, by the biggest name in the business.
Print publishing shows its evermore willing to innovate: As veteran media writer Keith Kelly pointed out in the New York Post, this acquisition is a noteworthy move not only because it’s happening at a time when print pubs are dying left and right, but also because FMM parent Conde Nast, not known for keeping founders around after acquisitions, will retain Nowmanifest’s Christian Remröd to run the network and act in a business development role. That suggests, to me at least, that Conde Nast and FMM are willing to concede that they’ve got plenty to learn about the business of blogging and are ready to march ahead with fresh blood at the helm. Sure, print has been trying to innovate in all kinds of ways for years, but here’s an example of a relative outsider being brought in to do things based on an entirely new model. And that’s a bit different than trying to adapt existing publications and platforms under the Conde Nast umbrella to be more in line with the times.
A sign of what’s to come for fashion blogs: For the last several years, the number of blogs has continued to grow and the kinds of jobs, income streams, collaborations and partnerships offered to bloggers have also diversified, but fashion blogging has very much remained the Wild West. This acquisition brings to light one of the first large scale roadmaps future bloggers may use to find their way from audience-building to maturity. It shows an industry is building up around the fashion blogging landscape and that the once-loosely defined parameters around the space may indeed see more and more formalization. If formalization continues and becomes regular occurrence, with more and more blogs operating under the umbrellas of larger media entities, it will surely have both positive and negative consequences for bloggers and their readers. Prepare yourself for nostalgic conversations with your aging blogging biddies years from now as you reflect and ask each other, remember when people just, like, ran blogs out of their bedrooms for the sheer joy of it?
You’ll find more acquisition details in this WWD coverage.
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