Co.Design

Lifestyle Mirror: A Clickable Fashion Mag Shows What Vogue Could Be

Fashion magazines are good at stoking desire. But they're not designed to actually sell anything--and that's where Lifestyle Mirror steps in.

You know how fashion magazines have these photo spreads and then in small print on the edge there’s a list of key items from the shoot and what they are and how much they cost? Newly launched Lifestyle Mirror is like that but on the Internet. Stylistically, it quotes heavily from newspapers of old, while technologically it combines the newest new, mixing hyperlinked images with video, and integrating with social networks like Facebook and Twitter (sorry, Google+).

The flagship feature of Lifestyle Mirror is the fashion spread. Each image has little red dots peppered around the scene. Click on them and you get more information about a nearby item along with a link to the place you can buy it. This, says Emanuelle Della Valle, president and co-founder of the site, is "the ultimate service: a highly edited selection of products inspired by the photos, that users can buy instantly."

With this setup, Lifestyle Mirror joins sites like Nerd Boyfriend and The Wirecutter as a hand-edited recommendation engine, if on a somewhat larger scale. "We start by identifying the icon, different subjects from all walks of life, and we photograph them in their element," says Della Valle. "Then our Market Department selects the right brands." I can’t help but think of MTV Cribs, Robin Leach, and the Fight Club Ikea scene.

Of the many kinds of publications, fashion magazines might be the ones where the line between editorial and advertising is the thinnest. Photo spreads about the clothes you want to buy run next to beautifully photographed ads for the clothes you want to buy. Lifestyle Mirror does away with this distinction entirely, creating editorial content that links directly to merchant sites. It’s a wonder that Vogue didn’t get here first.

Compare Lifestyle Mirror’s top-down taste-maker approach to that of collaborative taste-sharing sites like Svpply and Pinterest. Fundamentally, these all do the same thing--they allow people to see what other people think is cool and buy those things. Looking ahead, they have similar monetization options around things like placement, referral fees, and selling data to merchandisers (interestingly, Pinterest might already be making money with affiliate links).

The difference is in who you think is best suited to do this curation work. Svpply and Pinterest are focused on the crowd--they rely on and encourage fragmentation. No two consumers’ Pinterest experiences will be the same, much as no two Twitter users’ streams are the same. These sites are places where people you find interesting share things you might like. Lifestyle Mirror, on the other hand, sees a future in the editorial voice and the glamor of the somewhat unattainable. "There is an enormous amount of content out there in the digital space," says Della Valle, "but little of it is beautifully produced and even less is well edited."

These approaches may not really be in conflict. Lifestyle Mirror launched with three social networks integrated. I already mentioned Facebook and Twitter. Pinterest was the third. Lifestyle Mirror wants to give you a glimpse of a glamorous world lived in by fabulous people, and they want you to share that with the hoi polloi.

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9 Comments

  • Gerald Lepos

    This is something any site can do easily by adding Stipple to it. Just go to www.stippleit.com, grab your code and you are done. Furthermore, Stipple work with brands so that they can come in and help you tag your images.

  • MC

    There is confusion in the logic of this piece. First it is claimed fashion magazines are "not designed to actually sell anything," then its claimed "on the edge there’s a list of key items from the shoot and what they are and how much they cost?"

    How is that not actually selling anything?

    For better or worse, fashion magazines are trade publications that both overtly and covertly sell all sorts of things: from the credibility of fashion designers to the creativity of design, as well as jeans, gowns and face creams. Fashion magazines like Vogue are so loved because they "are" shopping catalogues. Is this not bluntly obvious? Even a cursory look at interviews with celebrities or architects will show how often they are asked what their favorite chair is or what catwalk they visited last.

    Vogue is for selling things and they do it very well. This is the "bible" status claimed by commenter James Macintosh; but I'd argue its not a bible because it separates editorial from advertising; its a bible because its a shopping catalogue showing what to buy and what not to buy.

    Why is that denied? Why can't that be celebrated?

  • James MacIntosh

    Really interesting move. Though the idea of media owners selling stuff and retailers becoming media owners has been one that has been evolving over the last couple of years.

    Take Mr. Porter, for example. It's headed-up by Jeremy Langmead. Undoubtedly a stylish and commercially astute gentleman. But also former editor of Esquire Magazine in the UK. And many people's experience of Mr. P is as media brand, rather than retailer.

    Or on the flipside, Monocle. I still remember Tyler Brule announcing that the magazine's Shop in Hong Kong funded its editorial bureau in the city. Selling what else but "limited edition" Monocle x Brand pieces that we heavily plugged in the magazine.

    So I guess this is the logical next step.

    The question is whether consumers will trust that the advice they are getting is free of commercial influence. In the comms industry, there may be an awareness that the divide between editorial and advertising can be more Japanese Hedge than Chinese Wall.

    But titles like Vogue need to preserve at least the perception of impartiality if they are to retain their "bible" status - it is that which keeps it one of the most solvent brands in the media. 

  • Dahlia Pham

    I wouldn't necessarily call Lifestyle Mirror an easy site to shop on. If I wanted to buy a whole outfit, I have to buy from 5 different sites to get each item? Terribly inconvenient. So this is just an aggregation of e-commerce sites, not a one stop shop website. 

    If you really want innovation on shopping through a magazine or catalog, you'll have to hand the reigns to Net-a-porter. Now that is one site that is a one stop shop. Just one account, no need to sign up to all these different websites just to get one item. I'll pass on Lifestyle Mirror (which reminds me a lot of the Daily Beast in terms of layout).

  • Sara

    The fashion industry is certainly not known (in a general sense) for it's sustainability or compatibility with the environment, so a paperless version of fashion mags might help them to up their game in terms of sustainability. 
    Print readership has been declining for some time, and paperless interactive issues are the way forward in my opinion, because LORD KNOWS Vogue (or any other magazine company) does not recycle over printed issues. 
    You can still have your big print september issue, but when a magazine is filled with 3/4 advertisements, I think the consumer is definitely left asking what they are getting for their money... They may be fashion conscious women, but that's not to say they want ads over substance
    Yes, this might be the magazine that Vogue COULD be, but it might not necessarily make it the socially responsible business it SHOULD be, or the icon it USED to be.
    Vogue is old hat, and has been for some time; they'd have to grow a big set of tech savvy balls and fire Anna Wintour to go down this road.

  • MC

    Paperless doesn't always mean more sustainable. To run digital infrastructures, there are cables made of plastic and metal running under cities. There are .pdfs being printed out on deskjet printers in our homes. There are power plants that generate the energy needed to charge all those batteries and keep servers backed up.

    And besides, the ethical economy—call it sustainable, environmental, social, or whatever—will never apply to Vogue or any other fashion magazine. The basic premise of fashion is short-term glamor cycles which require status anxiety and conspicuous consumption. Period. You can sell fashion in different ways: adding more organic cotton here and putting more Benetton-style ads there. But at the end of the day, fashion's investors, accountants and annual reports spit out financial data; and no other data.

  • Leban

    This site is wonderfully designed with print sensibilities. I have long said that, especially after seeing the works of Jason Santa Maria, that print should be able to easily translate over to the web with an enhanced experience. With all of the the web font libraries and grid frameworks that are available, there is no excuse for it not to. I see Lifestyle Mirror as a functioning example of just that (however, I may have to criticize them for still opting to us graphics for some of the article headlines instead of web fonts).

    Thanks for sharing this article!

  • Alice

    Really nice concept and I can definitely see this being the route things go down in the future. Would work well in digital publications (ie. iPad apps) too.