The Rise of Fashion Newsletters

MILAN — Fashion journalists, freelancers, editors and bloggers have been turning to the creation of weekly or monthly newsletters to give a more subjective and personal point of view on the fashion industry, and frequently share style tips and advices.

Leandra Medine Cohen, founder of the erstwhile fashion blog “Man Repeller,” started her weekly newsletter “The Cereal Aisle” last year, in which she gives out style tips and rants about love, life and raising her twins.

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With “Worn In, Worn Out,” Kitty Guo, a freelance journalist, raises awareness on sustainable and ethical fashion, while GQ journalist Rachel Tashjian’s created an exclusive by invitation-only fashion newsletter.

WWD talked with Federica Salto, an Italian fashion journalist who writes for Vogue Italia and Rivista Studio and who in 2020 during the the pandemic and lockdown, opened her weekly fashion newsletter and reached out to Steve Spear, professor of the fashion journalism course at London College of Fashion, to better understand the phenomenon behind the rise of fashion newsletters.

“The newsletter has a rich history, it goes back to the Forum in Rome where people used to recount tales to a specific group of people. In a world where there is so much information, we need to figure out the important bits, or the most meaningful to us and this is what these journalists are trying to do,” Spear contended.

Salto unveiled her newsletter, called “La moda, il sabato mattina (Fashion, on Saturday morning)” with the intent of “taking fashion journalism out of its traditional places.” She explained that during the pandemic, she started informing her Instagram followers on what was happening in the fashion industry using the platform’s stories. “However, I thought that Instagram was not enough, so the idea of the newsletters was born then and there, and initially I thought I would experiment for a few months, before returning to normality.”

Salto’s newsletter focuses on different topics regarding the fashion industry, for example, during the past fashion weeks she reflected on the changes she saw in the way brands were carrying out runway shows; she wrote about Virgil Abloh’s death and what he brought to Louis Vuitton during his years as creative director, and more generally, Salto dives into the technological advancements within the fashion industry.

Each week, Salto’s subscribers will find links to articles from several magazines highlighting the main topics of the week. In a different section, she informs her readers on possible job openings and opportunities within the industry, as most of her readership is young and often still studying at university.

Federica Salto - Credit: Courtesy photo
Federica Salto - Credit: Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

Spear believes newsletters work because they “genuinely draw people into a community rather than leaving them out, and whether we are interested in information or not people partake in it. In a digitalized world, it’s all about feeling part of a group that shares same interests or values.”

For instance, Salto’s newsletter, which is sent out twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays, tries to make sense of the latest innovations and changes within the fashion industry. “The main feature that I try to give to my newsletter, in fact, is participation: I often choose the topic of the week because I talk with my followers on Instagram and I collect opinions through my IG stories,” she said.

Fashion is changing, and so is journalism, which is now being carried out through different outlets. This is why Salto believes that “it is now clear to everyone that journalists can no longer wait for readers to arrive…today a reader is no longer just a reader but also a user, expecting and wanting to be part of the information and not just succumb to it.”

Spear concurred, adding, “Journalism is less about browsing and more about reading something deeper and more niche. People now buy fewer paper magazines so there is a clear push to online which was incremented during the pandemic, this is a great opportunity and some journalists have seen that and are using it.”

Not everyone can open a personal space as a newsletter and expect large numbers of readers. In fact, Spear said, “If a journalist acquires recognition, their subjectivity becomes important and their own experience becomes interesting. I think that individual journalists can become the right brand. They are also more free to talk about certain matters without limits or restrictions imposed by big magazines and newspapers.”

After seeing that her newsletter was working, having reached 150,000 subscribers after one year, Salto decided to open also a second one to offer more content, called “On Wednesdays, we wear pink,” where readers have to pay a fee (5 euros a month) in order to be able to receive it. She said that “luckily, many of my readers wanted to support the project, so I kept the main newsletter which is free and open to all but then opened a paid one to those readers who want to receive extra content.”

Right now, Salto is working at new extra content through “two monthly appointments in which new, young Italian journalists talk about fashion – I will take care of the selection and will support the editing. I really want it to become a space where those who cannot find visibility through traditional channels feel they have a space where they are valued (and paid) for their work.”

Pandemic, lockdown or technology, whatever it is — the newsletter is an important way of acquiring information, especially when it comes to fashion.

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