A few weeks ago whilst enjoying the last vestiges of N7 life in Le P√©ch√© Mignon, along with Sunhee Oh, the in-house stylist of Korean brand Lucky Chouette, I also met London-based contributor to Vogue Korea, InHae Yeo and we all got talking about blogs and magazine content.  InHae briefly showed me snippets from Sunhee's blog (in Korea, they're mostly hosted on Naver which means it's not possible to translate to English via Google unfortunately), where she features fashion visual merchandisers of key stores in Seoul and talks about their work in what looks to be great detail.  Steve and I moaned about the lack of diversity in fashion blogging in the "Western" world and why content such as what Sunhee had on her blog generally isn't prevalent.  InHae deduced that Korean fashion enthusiasts generally showed a desire to learn and therefore content goes indepth and detailed, something, which I had already observed when I had picked up a stray copy of Vogue Girl Korea and proceeded to compare the editorial:ad ratio between Vogue Girl Korea and Teen Vogue.  I used to think that this kind of ultra-informative content could border on being didactic but in an age when content and particular in fashion has become so throwaway, I've got a new found appreciation for detail, information and knowledge.  

Steve and I walked back home and began to harp on like old blogging biddies.  "Why can't mainstream media handle depth and detail?"  "Why are blogs (the ones that are high profile and successful) predominantly of the 'Look at me and my beautiful lifestyle' ilk?"  "Why aren't there more 2,000 word articles online profiling key visual merchandisers?"  The dude passing us by on the street must have shook his head and thought to himself, "What fucking losers…"

A week later, InHae had a few recent issues of both Vogue and Vogue Girl Korea sent over to me.  Lifting it up my fire escape was my weight lifting exercise done for the year.  Ads of course dominate the pages of both titles  but a quick appraisal of the content (without being able to read any of it…) also confirmed what InHae was saying and that perhaps there could be a page (or two, or ten, or twenty…) taken from their content strategy that would enrichen magazines here.  

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It's timely that British Vogue's inaugural issue of Miss Vogue has recently been released and whilst it's still not known whether it will be a permanent newstand title, it's an interesting time again to assess the relevance of printed fashion content aimed at what has historically been a tricky market in the UK.  I don't want to compare Miss Vogue UK – a tester thin issue, created by the British Vogue team with various budget/time constraints with Vogue Girl Korea – an established title with secured advertising and a wholly separate editorial team; but it is interesting to note the cultural differences, most of which I personally seem to prefer.  

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Looking at all the Vogue Girl Koreas, the beauty sections are HUGE (all the better to cram in those advertisers) and they are at the front of the issues and speaking as someone with a real lack of interest in beauty, there certainly were aspects that jumped out – interesting imagery and features such as a guide to nail art to match catwalk looks.   

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What I really found impressive was the amount of page space devoted to certain features, such as this "Girl's Internship Challenge" which interviews people in a wide range of creative/fashion-based careers to give to prospective interns.  Everyone from a beauty brand PR to an advertising AE is featured and it spans eight pages of what I think would be useful information for girls aspiring to careers in the creative industry.  

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Features like this six page profile of graphics/creative agencies in Seoul wouldn't be out of place in publications like Its Nice That.    

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Beyond the obvious fashion designer and celeb profiles, you also get introduced to interesting creatives such as pop-up paper artist Mathilde Nivet - her work is the stuff that spreads like wildfire on Tumblr and so it's nice to see a mainstream print publication latching on to that sort of subject matter.  

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In general, there's a feeling that Vogue Girl Korea isn't afraid to step outside of its FASH-ON remit or go too far leftfield.  Take this lovely visual diary of a girl who does embroidery – the likelihood is that this would be seen as too twee or "out there" in their equivalent titles in the US or UK.  

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Even simple features such as "What's on your desk?" (far more interesting than the "What's in your bag?" fashion approach take a new twist as each desk is illustrated by six different illustrators, instead of being photographed.

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What struck me about the issues of Vogue Girl Korea was the diversity and all-rounded aspects of content.  There's room for pieces like a tutorial on scuba diving, a filing cabinet line-up and reviews of strawberry desserts all around Seoul.  The magazine seems richer because it isn't 100% fashion and probably reflects the tastes and interests of their audience.  Likewise, their culture section, books and movie reviews all seem longer and a lot more indepth too.  

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On the fashion side of things, just little fun details such as presenting collections as a fashion comic creates a dynamic change-up in format.  

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There's inclusion of menswear in every issue, which is something that was also interesting.  Clearly there are titles that cater to fashion-loving men in Korea so perhaps it's just to inform girls of what's out there for the boys?  When menswear and womenswear crossover a fair bit and when menswear is particular strong in Korea, it feels like an appropriate inclusion.  

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Nuff' said about the fashion editorials in Vogue Girl Korea, which I've always been a fan of.  There's LOTS of them in every issue (even the supposedly flimsy February issue) and they range in skewing younger, older, affordable and designer from the looks of it.  

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A quick look at the big sister Vogue titles and the first thing I notice is the creative and playful art direction.  It's not to everybody's taste but I quite like the retro and graphic font mix-up.  

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Again, there's coverage of menswear, which presents fashion as a subject to be knowledgeable about to the reader, as opposed to just knowing about products and pieces to buy.  

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More indepth content about the relationship between design and fashion… 

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… or a rundown of 120 inspirational Korean women in a plethora of fields…

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This piece written by InHae investigates th role of Savile Row in British fashion – again a subject that could skew too masculine or niche but somehow finds an intelligent place within Vogue.  

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I can't figure out what this is other than an analysis of fashion logos/labels?  Looks interesting nonetheless… 

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I think this is an article about the art of selling in luxury stores – in any case it looks substantial and indepth.  

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Talking up tree photography – why not?  

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Again, the issues are STUFFED with editorials, with only one or two syndicated from International Vogues.  There's a lot of risk-taking going on with the casting and aesthetics with some images not necessarily sticking to the standard Vogue remit.  

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This isn't to say that Vogue Korea and Vogue Girl are superior or better than their British, American or other international counterparts.  My general observation about detail, niche and indepth content still stands though.  When widening range of fashion content is now so freely available online, it feels like a great time to to go out on a limb and stake a claim on content that isn't the expected norm, especially in the volatile teenage market.

Comments (26)

  1. Rosie says:

    I’ve always found Vogue Korea to be the best vogue, the creativity of their editorials is amazing, everything is fresh and colourful, I love the way that the garments and sets are treated as one to create a really unified image. Their creativity really stands out compared to the more famous iterations.

  2. Kb says:

    I am determined to buy one of these titles now, I’ve heard how amazing they are but have been putting it off. It’s nice to have a bit of a synopsis of one of these issues before I get one. I’m not quite sure how this would translate to a UK audience, where we’re used to a few repetitive features and the odd insightful article. Seems like there’s a bit of Frankie, mixed with It’s Nice That and I-D.

  3. milex says:

    More than a dream.

  4. russiankiwi says:

    Well this article just makes me wish I could read Korean and could get my mitts on one of their magazines regularly, inspiring !

  5. alfred teo says:

    Miss Bubble, I agree with you 100%!

  6. Kate says:

    ooh do they make a copy transcribed in english, it looks much more interesting than the depth-less garb other equivalents are serving!

  7. Terry says:

    Awesome pictures from Vogue Korea! I really enjoyed reading this article and as a Korean (Korean-American born in LA) myself, I can’t help but be proud of such great editorials and spreads! I haven’t actually thought about purchasing Vogue Korea in the past but now I definitely will be picking up one very soon.

  8. Theres definitely a challenge for us bloggers to focus more on content and not just pretty pics. Love your writing style so thanks for the inspiration!
    http://thelaststraggler.wordpress.com/

  9. If only we had the same level of inspiration and depth in the UK….love reading your blog for that!
    http://www.design-closeup.com/

  10. Putri Soe says:

    OH-MG. I didn’t know that their Vogue was this good! I’d better check it out. GUess i love Asia more now lol. Oh, and the rubric where they match nail arts with runway looks: EPIC. Thanks for sharing, Susie!
    Cheers from Jakarta,
    SUPERNICE

  11. Joy says:

    I love how meaty all these issues are. Asian vogues are getting so good nowadays (I’m just iffy about Japan since it’s all Westerner run for lack of a better term). I really wish they would make a Teen version for the China market‚ÄîI think it would be equally as successful too. I hope they have iPad subscription.

  12. Charisse says:

    wow I found this really interesting and it’s true! Our fashion magazine are full of what’s hot and what’s not and must haves etc. I’m not saying this bad but from what you’ve shown of Vogue Korea it’s so much more in depth and so I think you would be a lot more knowledgeable after reading and so I guess you can relate to the content so much more. Great post!

  13. Michele says:

    Wow, you have a lot of awesome stuff on this blog! I LOVE the black and white stripes look that you posted, and the nails look really cool with the black and yellow print. Awesome job!

  14. Frances says:

    I found this post so interesting? I do love my Vogue, Elle etc but British magazines can seem so formulaic in regards content and inspiration. Why should that be the case? There’s such a huge number of independent magazines at the moment and I would have though that, combined with blogs, would be pushing magazines to reinvent themselves again, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I’d love to see some bolder and braver moves from the British press.

  15. McKenzie says:

    This post was so fascinating! I agree with you on many points. I absolutely love reading a good fashion magazine, but it’s true, most british or american magazines tend to stay confined within the main ideas of fashion or the principals of the magazine, to satisfy their target audience, yet through doing this, they miss attracting or appealing to new readers or a wider audience, who would also appreciate learning the creativity and art that comes into fashion, but other parts of lifestyle too. Also, there is usually only one or two editorials per issue, being one of the few in-detail pieces in the magazine. The Korean Vogue seems to go into much more detail on many topics. This should be expected when reading a magazine and hoping to learn more about a passion or ideas. Other magazines should definitely take some tips from them as far as risk-taking goes. The concern of lengthiness, shouldn’t mean detail that readers really take interest in and learn a lot more from is avoided!
    http://currentlylovingblog.blogspot.com/

  16. Chae says:

    So exciting to see the post about Korea! I’m a huge fan of your blog from Korea. You suggested a new perspective on Korean vogue because I’ve always thought journalism in Korean fashion industry had died long ago.. which is sad. Perhaps, if there were fashion blogs those inspires me or have a fruitful contents on Naver then I would have not explored non-Korean blogs this much. But it’s glad to here from you that Vogue Korea is relatively detailed and dynamic than others! 😀

  17. Krystal says:

    I am said to say that the American Vogue may be even less “meaty” than British Vogue. I like reading Vogue UK because it gives me such an awesome idea and picture of what’s going on across the pond. I have put down my Vogue US and traded it in for Harper’s Bazaar and InStyle magazine here. The Vogue here in America is just too ad heavy, the editorials aren’t even always that great. I think people are smarter than what executives give them credit for, and they crave that deeper content. People have warned me against posting articles that are more than 300 words on my blog, but actually my feature articles between 700-1200 words are the best performers.

  18. Fashademic says:

    Susie, thanks for such a great post- it made me wish I could read Korean (and also… try all of those strawberry treats!)
    It’s interesting to discover that Vogue Korea has so much written content- in a fash-mag world where image is king, it must be so refreshing for Korean readers to have a title that publishes long-form articles on such a variety of aspects of fashion. I wonder if other titles think we don’t have the attention span for longer articles- and yet I think the success of blogs such as yours show that there is a huge audience of readers who would love more well-researched, thought-provoking and pleasantly unexpected writing. Which is all the sweeter when matched with creative ideas in the visuals (even in Beauty! Which I agree with you- usually snore-worthy for me too, but more because I can’t even figure out a hair-curler so there’s no way I’m going to attempt applying four different colours of eyeshadow to my face!) Here’s hoping some publishers are reading your post and feel challenged to beef up their titles with more- more creativity, more muscular writing- and that it will invigorate the genre of fashion magazines.

  19. Tavern says:

    I need to get a Korean Vogue magazine for myself and I should learn Korean too. I like this post of yours. 🙂

  20. PMT says:

    I am so glad you have brought this up! I remember when I went to China in 2011 and picked up a copy of Vogue China out of curiosity. Apart from the “standard” magazine the package came with a much thinner one devoted entirely to beauty. For over 100 pages (including maybe an ad on every 3-4 or so pages) detailed every possible high-end serum, moisturiser, masque, cleanser, etc on the market for any skin concern, including paragraphs of possible steps and concerns.
    What was most impressive though, was near the end the magazine listed every possible ingredient that could be found in cosmetic products with their English name, their Chinese name/translation, and it’s purpose in a product. I felt like I was looking in a chemistry textbook!
    Anyways, thank you so much for pointing this out. Unfortunately I can barely read Chinese, but if I could I probably would have learned more from just this one beauty issue than an entire year’s worth of brief beauty snippets from US or UK Vogue

  21. Sean says:

    As usual, I barely know where to begin in forming a reply to your post – always a good thing! I feel like part of the problem for me as a writer is reconciling the amount of time I have to expend crafting one really awesome 800+ word essay and the awareness that the payoff will be, often at best, 1-2 comments and/or maybe a supportive tweet. I then take that and have to cope with the 20+, 50+, 100+ comments elicited from some other blogger’s 1-2 sentence post that’s about as insightful and memorable as an off-the-cuff Facebook update.
    I know I need to stop “looking sideways”, so to speak, but it can get so disheartening at times to put so much into something and feel like no one’s paying attention. This is all to explain why I post fewer insightful essays than I’d really like to, although I guess that’s sort of letting the “others” win, in a way, if their laziness encourages my own. I really hope more bloggers‚Äîor actual writers who have blogs‚Äîturn the tide away from formulaic posting and start to parse through larger ideas and culturally relevant topics.
    And while you have the good sense to measure your words, I’ll come out and say that I basically don’t read mainstream American magazines anymore as they’re just catalogs‚Äîand the same is true of many popular/mainstream blogs. But it’s good to know that people do still have something of an appetite for long reads and substantial information that asks questions and delves deeper. Also, Korea kills it *swoon*.

  22. susie_bubble says:

    I completely understand what you mean. I think the key things is blogging for yourself and your own satisfaction. I ultimately don’t care if nobody reads what I read so long as I’ve got it out ‘there’ – ‘there’ being the unknown world – maybe it will inspire someone to head up to Scotland to produce their knitwear, go study fashion promotion at UCA Epsom or buy a piece of Tatty Devine jewellery (using examples of some of my longer posts…). I think positive immeasurable effect is much more rewarding than 100+ empty sycophantic comments.
    It’s about achieving your own mix of content. I don’t particularly want to be long, analytical and substantial all the time because I think that might be a bit too much to read. It’s whatever pleases YOU as a blogger. I don’t really care if pictures speak volumes and text is disregarded or ignored. I know what people’s attention spans are like online. But that’s not going to stop me from posting the content that *I* think is worth going out into the world.
    As for magazines – I think there’s still some brilliant writing going on but it can be few and far between issues. I still need a lot of them for the visual stuff but for reading? 032c, Self Service and The Gentlewoman are still engaging. I just don’t think mainstream publishers have “depth” as their priority when they’re fighting for page space and going up against advertisers. It’s not a criticism on their part. It’s just the way things are going. A change and a rethink in physical fashion publishing will come about soon enough…

  23. Dru says:

    Sorry to be commenting like a creeper months after the post, but google led me back here and I couldn’t resist 🙂
    I’ve been crazy in love with the Japanese and Korean editions of Vogue for years, obviously not being able to read the text is a slight handicap but the style and quality of the images produced (and those need no translation) never fails to thrill me – it’s good to see ‘mainstream’ magazine covers that don’t automatically go for the blandest possible image just because they think a reader might be turned off by quality or something. And it’s not just Vogue – I remember ElleGirl Korea (how I miss the UK/US editions) being pretty fantastic on that score, too.
    I adored Teen Vogue in my own late teens/early twenties and maybe it’s just age, but I’m not super fond of the styling and editorials now. That and the well-worn formula of celeb/’young Hollywood’ (which can also include kids of senior Hollywood or fashion people) + expensive clothes + scare of the month (what’s bad for teens: caffeine! carbs! social media! campus visits to colleges! ad infinitum) has worn very thin on me, and I hope Miss Vogue takes a different approach in talking to their audience.
    Also, I’m not sure Vogue Korea/Vogue Girl Korea is really that out-there with their casting, quite a few of the models in the spreads above are popular young actors (I actually let out a few embarrassing fangirly noises on seeing Lee Jong-seok and Lee Soo-hyuk, no lie). It’s probably that the stylist team may be given a freer hand with them than their American counterparts.

  24. probe97 says:

    I love relaxing smothered in new editions of international fashion magazines, the sweet scent from those gorgous fashion bibles penetrates into my body and consumes me totally.

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