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OPENING THE FILE: VFiles, a new social-media site centered on fashion and style, launched last week following a month of beta testing. The site was conceived and developed by Julie Anne Quay, a former executive editor at V magazine. Quay owns a majority stake in the venture, while V is a strategic partner and minority owner. The magazine is lending its name and a library of imagery to VFiles but does not have a direct role in the site.
Quay, who has assembled a team that works out of offices on Mercer Street, calls VFiles “a social platform for fashion entertainment, with a vault of fashion media and original content.” That online vault includes every issue of Visionaire, V, VMan, Project X and Stop magazines. There are select issues and images from a range of independent and out-of-print publications, ranging from the A&F Quarterly to Germany’s Bravo teen magazine. As the site grows, users will be able to upload their own imagery and multimedia files, such as GIFs or videos, with Quay eventually expecting 90 percent of the site to be user generated and 10 percent to come from VFiles editors.
“It’s a go-to place for the fashion community, where people can access multiple media and talk about fashion,” said Quay. The core of the site is its VFiles, which are online folders created by users to compile multimedia items about topics of interest ranging from bare midriffs to androgyny. Each image, video and related item is affixed with searchable tags.
Users can share, follow or like VFiles and tags, as well as comment on them. Early testers of the site included Nicola Formichetti, Karlie Kloss, Calvin Klein Collection men’s creative director Italo Zucchelli, Sky Ferreira and A$AP Rocky.
A partner site in China will launch in October, a market that Quay calls “the hungriest fashion market in the world.” That launch is being overseen by Bentham Liu, a media entrepreneur who was a key player in launching various China and Taiwan editions of Vogue, GQ, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and People.
VFiles encompasses a handful of original video series, such as Model Files, TMI, In Real Life, Xtreme Fashion Week and VFiles Status Update. There is also an e-commerce shop that sells VFiles collaboration product from The Blonds, Hood by Air, Demeter, ORFI and others.
In contrast to V magazine, the site has an accessible, democratic approach to fashion, with a youthful street vibe to its videos and cobranded product. “We are not exclusive, we want everybody,” explained Quay, noting that she’s targeting an 18- to 35-year-old core demographic.
There is no paid advertising on the site as of yet. Going forward, instead of simply banner ads, VFiles plans to partner with companies to create showcases for their brands on the site, generating revenue by early 2013. “It’s a different approach than just selling advertising. We want to find out what a brand needs and how they want to reach the audience and interact with them,” explained Quay, whose husband, Matthew Edmonds, is a veteran hedge-fund investor. “The most important goal right now is building and engaging with our community.”