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Embracing the #longread: how digital consumption is shifting, plus five fashion stories to find the time for

TLDR

If you’re anything like me, you constantly have dozens of tabs open, bookmarks saved, emails placed in a strategic folder, and apps in use to keep track of all the stories you’re intending to go back and read.

It’s all too easy to let that accumulate, put off by the fact some of the pieces are just that little bit too long (#TLDR) to comfortably whizz through in a spare moment, rather needing you to find some dedicated time to sit down and concentrate on them. But, while we might be used to shorter and shorter formats through our social media postings – 140 characters here, six seconds there – not to mention an entirely visual-based strategy through Instagram particularly, there’s a growing trend for a lot more in the way of this long form content. Twitter itself is indeed thinking about extending to a 10,000 character limit, first page results on Google reportedly contain an average of 1,890 words (that’s mind blowing), and platforms like Medium have taken off for the very fact they enable users to easily spout words without any true perimeters.

Media companies from Buzzfeed to The Guardian, Esquire, The New York Times and Wired all also publish dedicated “long reads” or “big stories” today. The move comes down to an understanding that readers increasingly desire access to longer form content (and the involved insight, knowledge and informed opinions it provides). And more importantly, though counter to popular belief, they’re willingly engaging with it on mobile. In fact, a 6,000-word piece from Buzzfeed in early 2014, saw readers on tablets spend an average of more than 12 minutes with the story, while those on phones spent more than 25 minutes. As The Atlantic wrote: “[That’s] a small eternity, in internet time.”

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No surprise then, there’s an increasing number of highly relevant fashion stories being released that also tick the box for indulgent consumption. As Imran Amed of The Business of Fashion wrote this weekend in a post about his venture into long form with a landmark piece on the Net-a-Porter / Yoox merger (as below): “The idea to do this kind of story came during a conversation I had in September with Graydon Carter, editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, who advised me: ‘Every once in a while, write an in-depth story that everyone in the fashion industry would want to read’.”

So here are five lengthy pieces (2,500-10,000 words) truly worth carving out some time for. Some of them date back to early 2015 (courtesy of my aforementioned bookmarking habit and some power reading this weekend), but if you didn’t get through them then, like me, now is your chance to revisit.

1. The secret deal to merge Net-a-Porter with Yoox – The Business of Fashion

Needless to say, top of this list of long reads, is the aforementioned story from The Business of Fashion last week. If you haven’t yet bitten the bullet, it’s broken down into four parts, chronicling exactly what happened between both parties and Compagnie Financière Richemont (much of which was behind the back of Natalie Massenet). This one is time consuming, but it’s insightful and worthwhile. As someone posted in the comments below: “Noting the tell-all film trend: fun to imagine who will be cast as Massenet, Marchetti and Rupert.”

2. A huge underclass of ghost workers are making your shirts in their homes – Quartz

Informally employed homeworkers in developing countries make up a substantial portion of the (subcontracted) manufacturing process for fashion retailers. This story dives into who they are, what they do and how to go about changing it so that they’re treated fairly and under the same laws as other workers. “The first step is to bring them out of the shadows and acknowledge that they exist,” writes author Marc Bain. It’s an insightful piece – detailed and warranted of its length – on an area rarely touched upon elsewhere.

3. Losing the thread: how textiles repeatedly revolutionised human technology – Aeon

With all the obsession with wearable technology of late, there’s a lot to be said for this essay, which outlines the very fact that textiles are indeed a technology of themselves. “More ancient than bronze and as contemporary as nanowires,” it reads. It goes on to highlight how pertinent textiles have been on economic development and global trade, and calls the industry out for thinking that ‘wearable tech’ is about gadgets pretending to be accessories rather than the cloth we actually wear against our skins. The piece takes us from the development of aniline dyes and cellulose-based synthetics to the performance-based materials we take for granted today. There’s also a great analogy of weaving (the original binary system) rather than mining when referring to the Bitcoin Blockchain.

4. Fashion week, reinvented – The New York Times

Vanessa Friedman penned this piece on how New York Fashion Week is evolving at the beginning of last season (September 2015). Largely a focus on how WME/IMG were bringing designers into its new venues, it explores how the aim is to make the whole affair seem less commercial yet simultaneously a feat of entertainment for the masses. It sets the scene comprehensively, and outlines the ambition on many fronts to evolve what fashion week is and what it could be. Since then, there have been multiple additional stories released, especially around the CFDA’s plans to hire the Boston Consulting Group to conduct a study on whether or not NYFW should become a consumer-facing event presenting collections more closely aligned with retail drops. Lots of food for thought as we approach the autumn/winter 2016 shows.

5. How menswear took over the internet – Esquire

Men’s fashion is growing by more than 100% a year. With that as context, this long form story from Esquire dives into where and how that is happening, talking to executives from Luisa Via Roma, Mr Porter and Matches Fashion. According to the latter, the online men’s market is highly valued for the fact returns are lower and loyalty often higher. Some 50% of its male customers return to buy something else within a year. The story also highlights such tidbits as more money coming from shoes on Mr Porter than Net-a-Porter, and Natalie Massenet saying that the rise of a more creative economy could lead to menswear becoming as big as womenswear over the next decade.

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How luxury brands are showing their love for the 2014 FIFA World Cup

FIFA-World-Cup-Brazil-Wallpaper-Logo1

Speak to a Brazilian right now, and most will tell you there’s little else going on in their country other than the FIFA World Cup currently. “At the moment we (I mean the whole country, literally) are 100% focused on [the football] – so no other news,” one friend from an agency in Rio working with Coca-Cola told us.

On social that might particularly seem the case – during the Brazil x Chile match, 390,000 tweets were posted per minute, the highest number ever recorded during a sporting event on the platform.

The main brand players (in terms of share of voice) are inevitably the likes of adidas, Coca-Cola, Nike et al. But a handful of those from the luxury space have embarked on the odd World Cup initiative too in a bid to garner both local and global association with the event. Here’s a little round up of how…

Louis Vuitton was commissioned by FIFA to design the World Cup trophy trunk – a monogrammed, 18-carat gold, malachite and brass ensemble. Supermodel Gisele Bundchen will present the trophy to the winning team
Louis Vuitton was commissioned by FIFA to design the World Cup trophy trunk – a monogrammed, 18-carat gold, malachite and brass ensemble. Supermodel Gisele Bundchen will present the trophy to the winning team
The Tod’s campaign ‘I Cheer For My Colors’ follows a similar concept – accessories in different countries’ colour-ways are available for purchase
The Tod’s campaign ‘I Cheer For My Colors’ follows a similar concept – accessories in different countries’ colour-ways are available for purchase
As part of #FriendshipFriday, Monica Vinander  suggested football fans stack their friendship bracelets to reflect the colours of their team’s flag – some great imagery accompanied over social
As part of #FriendshipFriday, Monica Vinader suggested football fans stack their friendship bracelets to reflect the colours of their team’s flag – some great imagery accompanied over social
Lacoste created a capsule collection called Rio, inspired by Brazil and the Brazilian colours
Lacoste created a capsule collection called Rio, inspired by Brazil and the Brazilian colours
Hublot launched its ‘Hublot Loves Football’ campaign. Its UNICO Bi-Retrograde model is also this year’s official World Cup watch
Hublot launched its ‘Hublot Loves Football’ campaign. Its UNICO Bi-Retrograde model is also this year’s official World Cup watch
Calvin Klein tapped Brazilian football player Oscar Emboaba as the face of its new underwear and denim campaigns
Calvin Klein tapped Brazilian football player Oscar Emboaba as the face of its new underwear and denim campaigns
Tissot is running an Instagram competition using the hashtag #MyTissot. The prize: watches in colours to match the different participating countries’ flags
Tissot is running an Instagram competition using the hashtag #MyTissot. The prize: watches in colours to match the different participating countries’ flags
Gucci’s three-week ‘Forever Now’ exhibition arrived at the right time for the World Cup in São Paulo, using pieces loaned from their Museo in Florence
Gucci’s three-week ‘Forever Now’ exhibition, using pieces loaned from their Museo in Florence, arrived in São Paulo at the right time for the World Cup
Alexander McQueen created its own interpretation of the PUMA King cleats. Only 100 pairs exist, all of which will be gifted to friends of the two brands
Alexander McQueen created its own interpretation of the PUMA King cleats. Only 100 pairs exist, all of which will be gifted to friends of the two brands
Karl Lagerfeld in collaboration with plastic footwear brand Melissa, also created some footwear in the spirit of the World Cup; sandals adorned with a miniature football.
Karl Lagerfeld in collaboration with plastic footwear brand Melissa, also created some footwear in the spirit of the World Cup; sandals adorned with a miniature football
And in true team spirit, numerous brands have not just acted for their own benefit, but leveraged their creative talent to support children in Brazil too. The Make Kids Happy campaign, under the organisation of Luisa Via Roma and adidas, saw various luxury brands designing their own versions of the FIFA football. These were then auctioned off on eBay on June 16 and proceeds went to the Brazilian Gol de Letra Foundation. Participating designers included Dolce & Gabbana, Balmain, Cavalli, Missoni and MCM, as well as Giuseppe Zanotti shown here.
And in true team spirit, numerous brands have not just acted for their own benefit, but leveraged their creative talent to support children in Brazil too. The Make Kids Happy campaign, under the organisation of Luisa Via Roma and adidas, saw various luxury brands designing their own versions of the FIFA football. These were then auctioned off on eBay on June 16 and proceeds went to the Brazilian Gol de Letra Foundation. Participating designers included Dolce & Gabbana, Balmain, Cavalli, Missoni and MCM, as well as Giuseppe Zanotti shown here.
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Digital snippets: DKNY, Calvin Klein, Aldo, Osoyou, Luisa via Roma Firenze4ever

Some more great stories from around the web surrounding all things fashion and digital:


  • Ashley Greene for DKNY spring/summer 2012 campaign: video (as above) [DKNY PR Girl]
  • Calvin Klein Underwear partners with stylist Annabel Tollman for video series [WWD]
  • A new breed of macho fashion bloggers writing for a post-metrosexual world [NYTimes]
  • Aldo launches contest to identify and reward “the next stars of Tumblr” [Mashable]
  • Street Style: Luisa Via Roma Firenze4Ever 4th edition [MyDaily]
  • 75% of women think about resale value when shopping [MediaPost]
  • Five trends that will shape the online fashion world in 2012 [Huffington Post]