A few months ago, the Times decided to ramp up some of their more lucrative "verticals" on their website—including Fashion and Style. They had lots of ideas, which they put on the company wiki for everyone to read and comment on. But did all of their plans come to fruition? Well, let's just say we were spared the disaster that inevitably would have been an Alex Kuczynski blog. The wiki, and what really happened, follow.
Target: The sophisticated shopper to the aspirational young fashionista
The names: Cathy Horyn, Alex Kuczynski
Expand coverage of daily trends and fashion phenomena
Cathy Horyn & Suzy Menkes fashion blog (launching Jan 07)
Product finder/database: Trish's Editor's Picks underway for Nov 30 launch
Discuss e-commerce revenue stream, shopping partnerships
Launch a Critical Shopper area on the site, Alex Kuczynski blog (?)
Hire a reporter to expand coverage of trade/retail/consumer news about fashion in order to become an industry must-read
More slideshows and more video
Acquisition idea: Glam.com
Collaborators/Competitors: WWD.com (Women's Wear Daily), Glam.com, Style.com, future style site from Elizabeth Spiers of Dealbreaker.com
So! The NYT was, perhaps, taken by surprise when Alex Kuczynski decided to stop writing the Critical Shopper column, if they had been planning on building out the entire Styles section around her. Whoops! Hence the promotion of Michelle Slatalla as the new Alex Kuczynski, we suppose.
The fashion blog looks like something else that didn't turn out exactly as planned, if originally the blog was going to be done by both Cathy Horyn and Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune. The IHT is, of course, owned by the Times, but Menkes clearly gave the idea of blogging the cold shoulder.
Product finder/database? We think that never existed. Ditto the "e-commerce revenue stream" and "shopping partnerships." Wonder how the rest of the paper would feel about "shopping partnerships"?
The "Critical Shopper area" on the site idea seems to have been shelved, now that there's a rotating cast of characters writing the column. And honestly, it's a little disappointing that the Alex K. blog never came to fruition, if only because, well, MATERIAL, hello?
"Hire a reporter to expand coverage of trade/retail/consumer news about fashion in order to become an industry must-read"—yeah, that hasn't really happened. The Times does a good job covering fashion from a critical perspective and also a decent job covering retail from the business desk. Eric Wilson is the closest they come to expanding coverage of this sector, but he's pretty much relegated to Thursday Styles, and he rarely breaks news.
"More slideshows and more video"—yes, check.
Acquisition idea: Glam.com. Really? Right now, they have a feature up called "What Would Scarlett Wear? See If You Can Guess What Johansson Wears Around NYC." We can't imagine that meshing so well with the rest of the Times' content, but then again, they do own About.com.
With regard to their perceived competitors, all we can say is, interesting! The aforementioned WWD is a trade publication; does the Times really think it can compete with its breadth? Maybe! Style.com's slide shows and video are updated much more frequently than the Times' fashion coverage is; to really compete there, they'd have to make a few more hires, it seems. And as much as we love Cathy Horyn's blog (really, we do—have you read it lately? It's weirdly, almost absurdly meditative and good, and her commenters are batty), it's not quite in the same vein as Fashionista. (She also updates it roughly once every two weeks when there are no runway shows.) But at least the Times has realized one important truth: The Internet will save them. Maybe.