Today Shortlist Media announced that NeverUnderdressed.com would be axed with effect immediately and I appear to be the only person who’s not surprised.
When it launched 13 months ago it was groundbreaking. Here was something with the swank design of a glossy magazine but in online format, and that was precisely its downfall – it was based on traditional magazine journalism and not online. It wasn’t shareable, it wasn’t list-obsessed and it didn’t break news.
The longer I work in digital media the more astonishingly aware I am of the stark contrast between the types of content that work online and work on print. When users visit a website they want easy function, clean lines and language that makes them feel like they’re chatting to a friend. Language they get.
And as beautiful and elegant as underdressed was, it wasn’t relatable and it wasn’t an easy read crammed with must-read headlines. It was full of long-winded titles about things I didn’t care about or want to click through to.
Whereas a decade ago glossy fashion magazines had the upper hand, they had the knowledge and the expertise to woo the reader, now so do bloggers. Except bloggers also sound like your best friend, look like a prettier version of you and will only recommend things they know to be amazing. And half the stuff they feature they’ve actually paid for themselves because they love it so much – rather than just randomly sourced from the Topshop website without seeing it in real-life. And, because they paid for it, it means YOU, their humble reader can actually afford to buy it too.
Bloggers are, in short, taking over the fashion and beauty world and becoming everything that the fashion journalism world never wanted to be – on the same level as the average girl.
So whilst it’s incredibly sad to see that a new fashion website can’t stay afloat, even with gimmicky GIFs, a snazzy website and a LOT of very experienced and brilliant journalists, it’s not a surprise. Instead, it’s a stark warning to other online fashion magazines that they seriously need to change their game plan if they want to compete against blogs.
I saw a recent statistic that showed the average girl was twice as likely to buy a beauty product recommended by a blogger than something featured In a magazine. Surely this says it all?
Instead of showing photos from another posh party we weren’t invited to, why not show us the ACTUAL insides of your bathroom cupboard or try on every ‘in’ thing in Primark to show what’s wearable and what will make you look like a half-eaten sausage?
Judging by the millions of views some of the biggest beauty, fashion and lifestyle bloggers are getting weekly (and that’s without a huge magazine brand name behind them) the people want personality and they want to delve into other people’s lives and feel like they personally know the people advising them about the latest trends and products in the fashion and beauty worlds.
We can’t change what people want, but we can totally change the sort of we’re-above-you content we’re obsessed with churning out.
If fashion is to succeed online it needs humour, personality and a down-to-earth attitude, and i’m afraid that most of our favourite magazine brands just don’t seem to get it…