LONDON — As traditional media outlets wrestle with the challenges of monetizing content and pushing product via e-commerce, two digital design creatives have come up with their own solution: an all-video magazine with shoppable pages, livestream content, fashion features and opportunities for brands to showcase products, and convert traffic into sales.
VHF, which stands for Video High Frequency, will go live today with the debut of a quarterly video journal featuring magazine-style features and fashion spreads with merchandise from brands including Gucci, Prada, Dior Men and Versace that can be purchased with a click.
In a few weeks’ time, VHF’s cofounders, Fabio Merche and Elisa Silvestri — who met when they were students at London College of Fashion, and who have both worked for Dazed — will also launch a TV-style feed to the platform with “curated, sourced and insightful breaking news” that will be updated on a daily basis. The TV element will also be shoppable.
The platform, which has been optimized for desktop and mobile, also features a virtual closet for viewers to collect and curate their favorite fashion pieces, and a social element, allowing VHF’s users to engage with brands, influencers and each other.
In a Zoom interview, Merche said he and Silvestri spotted an opportunity “at the intersection of fashion and video,” and devised the hybrid publication.
“We loved the structure of a print magazine, although for us it’s about the video journey, the interaction and the animation,” said Merche, formerly creative director for the London-based Petrie magazine, and founder of VHF Digital consultancy, which has created artistic content for fashion houses including Fendi, MSGM, Vivienne Westwood and Kent & Curwen.
There are those, including J.K. Rowling, who have traveled a similar video-media road in the past. Who could forget “The Daily Prophet,” the Harry Potter tabloid with the moving photographs and dynamic content?
In 2009, Net-a-porter veteran Sojin Lee turned fashion-as-entertainment into an online business, launching Fashionair, an interactive, on-screen fashion magazine.
Fashionair was a mix of static images and video and also aimed to drive user traffic to hundreds of stores. It shut in 2010 after running into funding problems, and Lee has since launched Toshi, a b-to-b business that aims to extend shop-floor and dressing room services to any customer’s home.
As the tech toolkit evolves, VHF has been able to take everything multiple steps farther.
Merche, whose title is editor in chief and creative director, and Silvestri, who is fashion and art director, said with social media algorithms typically ranking video content higher than all other mediums in 2021, “VHF recognizes the importance of creating engaging, interactive content with quality videos.”
To wit, VHF will look at everything through the lens of video, and explore the space where “fashion blends into digital,” whether that’s in the field of textiles, sustainability, gaming, AR or other technology.
The duo added that building an “engaging user experience” is at the forefront of the VHF platform and said VHF users will be able to personalize each issue of the magazine by saving and sharing favorite products and editorial features.
The debut issue has a sole advertiser in the Italian label MSGM, and other ad deals are in the works, according to Silvestri. She said VHF will be operating much like a traditional magazine in regard to sales.
Going forward it will be offering ad space inside the front cover of the quarterly journal, and double page spreads. All brands will have the opportunity to integrate shoppable features into their video advertising. The daily TV part of the platform will also carry ads.
Silvestri, who has a broad experience in advertising, branding, retail and editorial, said the site needs to reach a critical mass of readers — subscriptions are free — before it can start making money on click-throughs. Silvestri said she’s targeting 250,000 subscribers in the first year.
The site also plans to tap into the power of influencers, including Johwska, Allanberger and Visualize Mee, who have more than a million followers among them. VHF wants to connect them with brands to drive engagement growth to the platform.
Merche and Silvestri have also brought on board Georgina Evans, a former fashion editor at ShowStudio, as head of features, and the publishing executive and founder of Gray Communications, Nicky Gray, as commercial director.