More People Turn to Web for Fashion Content

Goodbye fashion bibles and gossip rags as many print names shut up shop-- because they're losing readers to online blogs. But new media platforms like Wechat and Sina are seeing more bloggers becoming famous online. 

The Rayli Fashion Pioneer magazine has been a must-read for the fashion-conscious for 15 years, but now has announced that it will stop its print edition from January 2016.

The Rayli Fashion Pioneer magazine has been a must-read for the fashion-conscious for 15 years, but now has announced that it will stop its print edition from January 2016. Also this month, another well-known local magazine in Shanghai -- the Shanghai Weekly, halted publication. More and more people are changing their reading habits from print to online, and Li Wenqi is one of them.

"I used to buy magazines whenever I saw a kiosk, but now I rarely buy any." Li said, "One reason is that magazines are very heavy, and they are not easy to carry around. Another reason is that I don't know what to do with them after they pile up at home. I don't think they are very environmentally-friendly. So now I read via my phone, like through some mobile apps."

Fashion and lifestyle magazines and newspapers have been hit the hardest because posting information online about these topics requires little professional background and can attract a large audience. Online fashion bloggers and micro-bloggers began to gain large groups of followers two or three years ago, when more and more people began to use Wechat and Weibo on their mobile phones. 

Some became so famous they are now even invited to major fashion events like the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, which then lets them post scoops on their blogs the very next day -- much faster than traditional print magazines. Traditional fashion magazines have had to change under this pressure. Su De is a senior director of a monthly magazine, and has witnessed the industry's transition.

"The year 2010 was the peak year for the industry, because of Expo." Su De, Editor in Chief of Lohas Magazine said, "But then it slid, mainly in weekly and fashion magazines, because many of these were invested in by clients in the luxury industry. Now the government has cracked down on luxury consumption and there is less gift-giving. So the sponsors have changed their marketing budgets, and that affected the magazines they sponsored."

Su says that at the same time, labor costs for magazines are on the rise, and accounts for most of the rising cost of print media. There are also a large number of editors and reporters who have left the print media and started their own blogs online. That has hurt print readership as well.

At the same time, the rise of new media has given many advertisers a new platform. Sibyl Chen works as a digital strategist, and says more of her clients want to promote themselves online these days.

"We can see there's a shift in platforms that brands use to promote themselves." Sibyl Chen said, "They now pay more attention to online platforms, including through key opinion leaders in fashion industry. Even some brands that are not in the fashion category, like technology companies, they'd like to have promotions through popular KOLs in various industries."

Chen says that through new media platform promotion, brands can receive more instant comment and feedback from their target customers. However, Su from Lohas magazine says a shake-out in new media is coming, because most of these platforms have received venture capital investment over the past one or two years, and soon will face the challenge of showing a profit.

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