Born digital, and boosted by social media, U.K.-based online fast-fashion retailer Asos still has a thing for old-school print. On Thursday, the newest regional edition of its magazine launched at a BBQ-fueled fest in Berlin’s Hallesches Haus event space. The German-language issue is the second international version of the now-quarterly publication; a French edition dropped in February.
“People haven’t fallen out of love [with print],” the magazine’s editor Marina Crook told WWD. “Especially young women — they’re still in love with magazines.”
“Game of Thrones” actress Sophie Turner is the summer edition cover girl, while performer-activist Amandla Stenberg appeared in the spring issue.
The publication, most recently monthly, is now quarterly. Remaining editions in 2016 will be fall and an end-of-the-year party issue.
“To talk reactively — we can’t do that in a magazine if we’re a monthly. Even if we were a weekly we wouldn’t be able to do it,” explained Crook.
Instead, it’s positioned as an inspirational handbook for the season for its core demographic of women aged 18-29, an overview of fashion and cultural trends rather than a reactive source for up-to-the-minute newness — which is more easily found, and communicated, digitally.
Asos founded its magazine in 2007, intending to nurture the long-term relationship with customers, and further brand awareness.
“We really strive to not be a catalog,” said editor in chief of Asos Media Francesca Babb. “We really want to be a genuine magazine offering for our customers and give them something that actually enriches not just their shopping, but also their lives.”
But the pages remain filled with product that often sells out right off the page. Zeba Lowe, the brand’s head of fashion, recalls the cover look from the January 2015 issue, a coordinated silver ensemble. “It literally sold out in minutes — or seconds — as soon as the issue came out,” she says, remembering the star power of its model — Taylor Swift.
Other cover girls have included Lady Gaga, Solange Knowles, Jennifer Lawrence and Charli XCX — most captured in the early days of their stardom.
With its focus on real girls, Asos magazine is also a Kardashian-free zone. Francesca Babb pointed out some of the most recent issue’s quirky, personable models reflecting the retailer’s wide range of size offerings — tall, petite and curvy. “Girls you could hang out with in the park,” she noted.
Editorial content isn’t translated for regional language editions, but what the team calls “transcreated” — adapted to local markets with bespoke features. In Germany, that means actress Lilith Stangenberg in the “Hey Girl” section and an adult coloring back page. In France, girl band Camp Claude merits a feature. Fashion shoots and seasonal specials are replicated across regions like-for-like, depending on ad pages.
Distribution follows an unusual and evolving model — the magazine is a reward for select customers who are frequent and loyal buyers. But those who connect with the brand over social media also get the nod, and a few copies will be sent out on request. The magazine’s total circulation across the U.K., France and Germany is currently just under 600,000; an American edition is also planned for the future.
The U.S. is one of the four top markets for Asos, along with U.K., France and Germany. The retailer has local language web sites in those countries, as well as in Spain, Italy, Australia and Russia. Separate Chinese operations were shuttered last month.
In 2015, Asos registered net income of 36.9 million pounds, or $56.3 billion; and sales of 1.15 billion pounds, or $2.29 billion, at average exchange.