NEW YORK —The Condé Nast Web site Style.com is becoming part of Fairchild Fashion Group, effective immediately.
The editorial team at Style.com, including editor Dirk Standen, will now report to Fairchild editorial director Peter Kaplan.
This story first appeared in the October 25, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“This is a huge deal for us,” said Kaplan. “Style.com is a giant exuberant force in the consumer market in the fashion world and it allows Fairchild to be a participant in the culture of fashion globally.”
Fairchild chief executive officer Gina Sanders said she proposed the move of Style.com out of Condé Nast Digital a few months ago and that there was a real “a-ha moment” among company executives when it was first discussed.
“It started as an idea and I built out a business plan and discussed it with [Condé Nast ceo] Chuck Townsend and it seemed like a great opportunity,” said Sanders. “It simply made great sense.”
Style.com is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, while Fairchild’s WWD is in its 100th year of publication. Style.com has become a widely read Web site among fashion-obsessed consumers.
Now that Style.com is part of Fairchild, it is expected the Web site and WWD will be able to share some talent and resources, though Sanders and Kaplan emphasized the two will remain separate entities that serve different audiences. WWD serves industry executives in fashion, retail and beauty through its daily newspaper as well as its paid subscription Web site, WWD.com, while Style.com, as Sanders put it, “is directed to consumers with an obsession with fashion.”
“They will retain their unique brand identities,” said Sanders. “At the same time, when you’re in the same company and sharing the same water cooler, are you excited to leverage talents and expertise across both? Sure.”
Sanders said Style.com averages around 2 million monthly unique visitors and reaches nearly 2 billion page views annually. Its peak traffic performance occurs during fashion shows. She said the Web site’s revenues are “fantastic,” but declined to comment when asked whether the site is profitable.
Style.com’s editorial team will move to Fairchild’s offices at 750 Third Avenue immediately, and its ad sales team will remain intact. Fairchild’s chief revenue officer Will Schenk will oversee potential joint advertising packages between Style.com and WWD.
Style.com used to be the Web home for the Condé Nast magazines Vogue and W. Last year, W received its own Web site, and earlier this year, Vogue got its own discrete site at vogue.com, and relaunched it last month. Sanders said Style.com’s traffic hasn’t been affected since Vogue’s site relaunched.
“Statistically insignificant,” she said when asked whether Style.com’s traffic fell during the all-important month of September and the key period of vogue.com’s relaunch.
“I don’t think there’s been any impact,” said Sarah Chubb, the president of Condé Nast Digital.
Condé Nast insiders have wondered in recent months if Style.com would follow the same fate as Men.style.com, which was folded last year into gq.com. Like Style.com, Men.style.com served as the Web home for men’s magazines GQ and Details. But as each of those brands got their own sites, it has followed a trend where Condé Nast has given more and more power to individual brands to control their own digital destinies. With Style.com’s move to Fairchild, it has been thrown a fairly secure lifeline.
The move does stir more intrigue for what the future holds for Condé Nast Digital. For weeks, insiders have been speculating whether there will be some sort of restructuring of the digital unit.
“There might be changes, but I can’t comment on it,” said Chubb.
She said the move for Style.com made a lot of sense for both sides and that’s why she gave her blessing.
“There is always this sort of Kremlinology at Condé Nast of ‘Someone won! And someone lost!,’” she said. “This is a corporate move that makes sense to us. It makes sense to me too, even though it moves something that is technically out of my group.”
“It makes sense to move something that is so strong in consumer and that doesn’t have a print or offline component with a strong title that has a very professional audience,” she said. “Aligning them gives Style.com a big brother or sister. I wouldn’t have OK’d it without it being a good next step for Style.”
Sanders backed that up.
“The alliance creates a 21st century fashion media company and I think that’s the idea,” said Sanders. “It’s a place where consumers and business executives go for the first look and last word on fashion.”
As for Style.com, it has recently been in the news as it moves forward with plans to create a reality show that takes place in its office. When asked whether that project will still go forward, Sanders said, “We will of course look at all initiatives in due course. With that said, it’s not our intent to disrupt programs that are in progress.”