LONDON — Natalie Massenet always describes the Net-a-porter e-commerce site as a fashion magazine online — and now she’s actually launching one, as well as a print version later this year aimed at rivaling the likes of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.

The Web site, owned by Compagnie Financière Richemont SA, will today unveil phase one of its print and digital magazine project that aims to speak to luxury fashion-focused women, in multiple languages, worldwide.

This story first appeared in the February 7, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Net-a-porter first will launch a free, weekly online magazine called The Edit, which is available from the site beginning today. The online magazine will have 52 themed editions annually, and will be the sister of an as-yet-unnamed print title that will make its debut in the fall and will come out four to six times a year.

The Edit is 30 pages, and features fashion shoots that allow readers to buy directly from the pages, as well as news, features and interviews with women from around the world. It carries a mix of advertising from brands that are stocked by Net-a-porter — as well as from brands that are not, such as Tiffany & Co., Rolex, Harry Winston, Jo Malone, Estée Lauder and W Hotels.

In addition to The Edit, Net-a-porter has created a one-off print magazine, The Collections Special, that offers a taste of the print magazine to be launched this fall.

The Edit and The Collections Special feature Natalia Vodianova, shot by Paolo Roversi, on their covers.
The Collections Special showcases fashion shoots by Roversi, David Bellamere and Liz Collins.

The 104-page Collections Special, which will be sent out next week, focuses on the spring collections, and has been printed in English, French, German and simplified Chinese to coincide with Net’s multilingual Web sites that will launch later this month.

The Collections Special will go to more than 100,000 top customers who have been identified as particular lovers of print. Advertisers in The Collections Special include Valentino, Gucci, Michael Kors, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Alexander McQueen, Roberto Cavalli and Isabel Marant.

As of this spring, The Edit, too, will be published in French, German and Mandarin, in addition to English. So far, some 1.5 million customers have signed up to get an e-mail of The Edit sent to them each week, although anyone can access the title on the site.

The new editorial efforts — digital and print — have been created by Lucy Yeomans, editor in chief of and former editor in chief of British Harper’s Bazaar, and will offer readers the opportunity to shop from their pages. The Net-a-porter homepage will also have a new, updated look starting today.

“This is a new model for publishing, a blend of the old and the new, and the shopability really inspires me,” said Tess Macleod Smith, vice president, media and publishing, of the Net-a-porter Group. She said the aim is to inspire the consumer from the very beginning of her journey — and follow her all the way to the end.
Going forward, Macleod Smith said she’s excited by the idea of publishing “anytime, anywhere,” and said already 30 percent of Net-a-porter’s sales come from mobile smartphones. She said, going forward, there will be editorial innovations for the mobile and tablet.

Macleod Smith, formerly group publishing director at the Hearst Corp. in London, joined Net-a-porter a year ago, and has a group level role, overseeing the publishing activities of its men’s site Mr Porter, and the off-price site The Outnet, in addition to Net-a-porter.

Mr Porter already publishes The Journal, an online magazine that comes out 52 weeks a year, and a print title called The Mr Porter Post, which is set to increase its frequency to six times a year, and more than double its print run to 130,000.

Yeomans said her vision for The Edit was a magazine “for and about women with great style and great stories,” a title with international resonance. “We want to be for the global, international woman. We’re not putting up geographical barriers,” she said.

This week’s issue of The Edit, whose theme is The New Simplicity, includes an interview with the Hong Kong-based Yana Peel, a venture philanthropist and the chief executive officer of Intelligence Squared, and a story on the Man Ray show that kicks off today at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Fashion shoots feature an edit of clothing and merchandise available on Net-a-porter, and in the future there will be other elements, such as exclusive music tracks that make their debut in the weekly magazine.

But perhaps the most ambitious project is the new print title, which will be sold by subscription and on newsstand beginning in the fall. Yeomans said it is evolving on a daily basis. She said it will showcase fashion “in context” alongside stories on art, culture and politics. “Print allows us to offer a more in-depth experience,” she said, adding that she will be shooting a mix of brands, some of which are not stocked on Net-a-porter.

“We have an extraordinary customer base and we have to make sure we are looking after their needs, and that means bringing in the best of everything out there,” said Yeomans. “And I do think there is a place for a new global magazine, a slice of international culture and style.”

Macleod Smith said customers will be able to shop the new print title via an app. Although she declined to give details, she said the app will be planted inside the print magazine and “will service readers’ needs. The aim is to make the app fit nicely into women’s lives. It’s not gimmicky, and it will speak to women.”

While the team is still working on the name of the new, 300-page glossy magazine, Macleod Smith said it is likely that the frequency will be four to six issues a year. “We are going to be much smarter about when we publish,” she said, but declined to give target circulation figures, cover price, or advertisers who will be in the launch issue, although she said the latter will be similar to those who are taking pages in The Edit.

Macleod Smith also said they are in the process of hiring a distributor, and added that it’s likely she will be hiring a few U.S.-based salespeople beginning in April.

Macleod Smith said one thing is for sure: The Net-a-porter customer might live much of her life online, but she’s still in love with the printed page.

“When I first arrived here, I really wanted to see how our customers were consuming fashion content, and I found they are heavy consumers of print magazines,” she said.

“These are women in their mid- to late 30s, who are buying four to five magazines per month. They love print and they love a global edit. They’re buying titles like Japanese Harper’s Bazaar along with French Vogue. And it was clear they want us to communicate with them through all platforms,” she said.