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Fashion Media: Interview with EIC Sarah Jane, Online Magazine Fashion Central

Fashion Central Cover

From emerging musicians to new clothing lines, MySpace is a melting pot when it comes to finding some of the best of the up and coming artists and designers. It’s no surprise then, that this online meeting place was the initial birthplace of Fashion Central. However, the successful venture which has moved onto its own domain where it produces a monthly fashion magazine that focuses on all things indie. I sat down with Sarah Jane, founder of Fashion Central, and got sneak peak at what has made her guide “to all things indie” so popular. She even gives some tips on her biggest PR no no’s.

Now before you go all pitch-crazy, take note: each issue of Fashion Central magazine is created around a monthly theme. At the beginning of each month, the editors send out an open brief for the upcoming theme with details of any submissions we require for the forthcoming issue, such as photographic spreads, artwork, or images of products

To receive these briefs, send your email address, company name and brief description to featureme@fashioncentralmagazine.com. Responding to the briefs is the only way to be featured, so please respect Fashion Central’s editorial process and do not send unrelated pitches.

What is Fashion Central Magazine all about?

We’re a monthly, online magazine that is always free to read at fashioncentralmagazine.com. Each issue is uniquely themed, and features high fashion photography and products from high profile and undiscovered talents alike.

What is your background? Why did you start Fashion Central?

I’m a fashion journalist, and whilst doing a degree in Fashion Promotion, I signed up to Myspace, and found that I was quickly inundated with friend requests from various clothing and jewellery sellers. I soon got frustrated with checking them all out individually, and it occurred to me that with so many sellers utilising the site in this way, there ought to be a central area where they could commune, network, and where visitors could browse their goods more conveniently. Hence Fashion Central was born, and word spread so rapidly that we were soon achieving thousands of hits a week, and it was out of this demand that Fashion Central magazine was launched.

What makes Fashion Central Magazine unique?

I’d like to think our monthly themes are a good way of ensuring we stand out. Our most individual selling point is that we’re more than a magazine, we’re a community, and a network of websites, so items within our magazine may be viewable to purchase at our online store, Fashion Central Shop, or interviews in the mag may be conducted with those who have won a competition on our myspace page. Fashion Central is looking to offer a one stop shop for style, and that’s what makes us unique.

Who/What gets featured on Fashion Central?

Fashion Central likes to cover the whole spectrum, craft to couture, replicating runway looks with high street pieces, and offering alternative takes on trends with independent designers. We have a huge following amongst indie businesses, and this will be explored to its full potential when we add our new monthly independent fashion supplement to run alongside the main magazine in March.

What do you look for when featuring a brand on Fashion Central?

Individuality… there are a lot of companies out there using the same sources for jewellery charms and the like, so I quite literally see a lot of the same pieces every day from site to site. Companies who create their items from scratch, so that they are completely unique are always interesting, and I’m also fascinated by brands and individuals that create an almost cult like following for themselves. In this light, we’ve already featured Audrey Kitching, Mosh, Brittinea, and New York Couture, and the March issue will see us interview Babycakes clothing.

How do you prefer to receive information from PR practitioners? What is a great pitch for you?

I always find that the best pitches are those that are relevant, and show that someone has taken the time to tailor a pitch to your company. Long copy and paste press releases are a turn off for me, especially if they’re sent without any form of introduction or explanation. I prefer people to come to me with a concisely outlined proposal to get my attention; with the offer of additional information should I request it. We’re always open to collaborations, and the addition of our independent fashion supplement will provide us with the opportunity to greatly expand our relationships with pr companies.

What PR pitches are automatically deleted from your inbox?

I receive a lot of requests to cover events, which are really not suitable for us at the current time. Any mail trying to promote a party is always deleted. As we’re read globally, it’s really important that our items are relevant to everyone, and rehashing a press release from an event that 100 people went to in Sweden isn’t journalism.

What kinds of stories can we see in Fashion Central?

Our new independent fashion supplement will see a massive increase in content for us, with reviews, interviews and features focusing on hot new talent. We’re also upping the journalistic content of the site, with a new fashion blog to launch, updated throughout the month for those who can’t wait for the next magazine issue, and the magazine itself will continue on with trend lead pieces, and high fashion spreads.

What are the major difficulties you face being an online magazine?

The most obvious dilemma is driving people to the website and promoting the existence of the magazine, although we’ve built up such a solid base now that this is no different to promoting a print mag. There are lots of benefits to being online… we are immediately visible to a global audience at their convenience, the website allows us to offer the magazine for free, and we’re in a better position to cover the wealth of great items available online. Summer 2008 will see us launch special printed editions, so hopefully we’ll have the best of both worlds.

What are three upcoming trends (can be cultural, industry, media, or fashion related) on your radar?

I’m keeping an eye on the fifties influence at the moment, both on the catwalk, and on Myspace, where tattooed girls with red pouts are reigning supreme, with the view to creating a summer pin up issue… I’m also tapping into Facebook as a promotional tool at the moment, it’s definitely going to give myspace a run for it’s money with it’s new system of offering profiles for businesses, and the area of alternative modeling, with leaders such Suicide Girls and Punk Girls, is always on my radar, for when it inevitably leaves the internet and becomes big business.

How do you promote Fashion Central? What strategies have been most effective?

The popularity of Fashion Central has snowballed almost entirely via word of mouth. I always have plans to advertise, but I’ve found that promoting the brand via Myspace and Facebook has been by far the most effective way of getting the magazine noticed, and taps in to the massive source of independent designers using these mediums.

How does being online change the process of putting out a magazine each month – or does it?

The main difference is the time scale… with an online publication, we’re pretty much working in real time, creating the issue the month prior to going live, although with print deadlines it’s necessary to start issues much earlier in advance. Aside from that, it’s ultimately the same process.

What's next for Fashion Central?

Our shop site, Fashion Central Shop, opened on February 1st, which provides links to great indie fashion, and offers exclusive shopping discounts. The March issue will mark the first birthday of Fashion Central, and will celebrate with commissioned artwork and features, and the supplement will also go live. Printed editions are on the horizon, and we still have another site to launch during the spring, so watch this space!

About the author: Kristin


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Meet Crosby Noricks

Hi. I'm Crosby, the founder of PR Couture and a fashion brand strategist. I care about supporting and celebrating fashion publicists as well as helping rad companies connect with their audiences in more meaningful ways. Recently, iMedia included me in their annual list of 25 Internet Marketing Leaders and Innovators, along with people from Starbucks, Twitter and Volkswagon, which I think is pretty neat. Like Elle Woods, I am a Gemini-vegetarian (that's about where the similarities end). Let's connect: Check out my full bio, Brand Elixer sessions or shoot me an electronic communiqué.