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.
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.
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.
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.
Features like this six page profile of graphics/creative agencies in Seoul wouldn't be out of place in publications like Its Nice That.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
More indepth content about the relationship between design and fashion…
… or a rundown of 120 inspirational Korean women in a plethora of fields…
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.
I can't figure out what this is other than an analysis of fashion logos/labels? Looks interesting nonetheless…
I think this is an article about the art of selling in luxury stores – in any case it looks substantial and indepth.
Talking up tree photography – why not?
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.
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.