With a successful book under her belt, Constance White is branching into podcast territory in what sounds to be an early phase of a transformation into a bona fide media personality.
White, a veteran fashion journalist who wrote for The New York Times before becoming style director of eBay and then editor in chief of Essence for two years when it was still part of Time Inc., is now a consultant and contributing editor of Ozy. Her latest deal is with Univision to develop a fashion-focused podcast. The prospective launch is later this year.
While development is still in the strategy phase, White said the deal sprung directly from the success of her book “How to Slay,” which looks at icons of black style and its cultural history, published in February by Rizzoli. White noted that part of what attracted Univision — which has said it’s trying to refocus on its Hispanic base after struggling to integrate a group of former Gawker sites that it bought in 2016 — to a fashion podcast with her was “how engaged [the company] saw people were around the book when we did events,” along with the authoritative voice that will come with her now decades in the industry.
“The kind of response we’ve gotten [at book events] has been encouraging,” White said. “Women want to talk style, women of color want to talk imagery in fashion and media, and we’ve had great conversations with African-American audiences as well as mixed white and black audiences.”
The other aspect of the deal is that the podcast market seems ripe for a breakout success in the fashion and beauty market. There are about 550,000 podcasts in total right now, according to Apple listings, with more than 220 in the fashion and beauty category, but there are few, if any, that have become major successes along the lines of NPR’s “Serial” or “How I Built This,” The New York Times’ “The Daily” or personality-driven shows like “The Bill Simmons Podcast” and “WTF With Marc Maron.” Even White admits that there isn’t a single fashion podcast that she listens to regularly, but there are plenty of apparel brands and retailers that would be happy to have a go-to podcast for advertising.
But before picking up advertisers, White needs to figure out things for the show, including structure, frequency and a name. “There are so many directions to go in, but I want the audience to feel they’re coming to the podcast to get information on fashion, be it prescriptive or historical, or something else,” White said.
Even though it hasn’t launched yet, it also sounds like the podcast is but one aspect of a broader plan for White’s budding career as a media personality. Marc Beckman, founder and chief executive officer of DMA United and White’s friend and agent, said they’re “in talks” on other possible projects, like apparel deals and even TV, another space where there seems to be room for fashion to get more of a foothold.
“The goal is to take this new audio platform and build it into video, where we can take a two-tiered approach of digital content and longer-form content,” Beckman said.
He mentioned outlets as varied as Amazon and Refinery29 for possible digital video content, and then generally broadcasters for a longer form show in more of a docu-style — possibly focused on the “How to Slay” theme of black style — that would give White a platform to leverage her connections and position in the fashion community and delve into “richer story lines.”
“We want to make Constance the Oprah Winfrey of fashion,” Beckman said with the convincing positivity of any good agent. “That’s not so far-fetched if you know her background.”
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