Buro 24/7 Interview: 'Porter' Editor-in-Chief Lucy Yeomans
When it comes to the world of the British fashion press, Lucy Yeomans is a well-known, and fabulously well-connected name. Suffice to say that Red, her two-year-old daughter, has a special fairy godmother in the form of Natalia Vodianova. "She gave my little girl Russian dolls, Red was delighted," says Lucy, when we meet at her London office.
Yeomans' career in the press began over twenty years ago, working for publications such as The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Times, Tatler and Harper's Bazaar. At the latter she became the face of magazine, and held the position of Editor-in-Chief for 12 years.
And then seemingly quite suddenly, over a year ago now, Yeomans made the transition to work for online retailer Net-a-Porter and launched e-magazine, the Edit, before last month's incredibly hyped release of Porter and hasn't looked back. "It was all very intriguing. At the beginning, I came to the shows and didn't know where to sit. With the British press, with an international retailers type like Harvey Nichols?" She says.
Despite the fact that the magazine is published (or 'powered by' as it states) under Net-a-Porter, Porter promises to be open and diverse and also represent brands that are not sold via the online retailer. Buro 24/7 finds out more.
Congratulations on a truly great magazine launch. Did you make the move to Net-a-Porter knowing you would eventually create Porter?
Partly. Yes, I moved to the company to edit an online magazine, which eventually became the Edit. At the same time Natalie Massenet and I had discussed creating a global fashion magazine.
So really, the Edit online prepared you to start a printed title?
In a way – it has a huge audience, all giving feedback. Which glossy magazine editor gloss has the privilege to communicate directly with readers and exactly what they want? We took market research study, which was attended by over 7,000 women from around the world. It has brought us priceless results, in fact changed principles which I always stuck to in print magazines.
When I worked at Harper's Bazaar, we considered being chic to be paramount. Here, it's this reader. If you want to communicate well with a girlfriend, you've got to know her as well as possible, right? I used to sell my own view of the luxury world. Now I'm doing what she wants. We continue to offer an edited view of things, but we know who we're talking to.
THIS MAGAZINE IS FOR THE GIRL WHO TRAVELS A LOT. SHE PROBABLY FLIES TO NEW YORK FOR WORK, IN MARKETING OR MANAGEMENT
What makes Porter different from your prior work?
Because I came from Tatler and Bazaar, existing publications with an established history and readership base, with Porter I had the opportunity to develop a title from the outset and fully determine its fate. First and foremost, we are a global project. We combine existing trends into a single strategy. This magazine is for the girl who travels a lot. She probably flies to New York for work, in marketing or management. She reads magazines on different devices, and shops worldwide.
What is more important to you to present in the pages of Porter, current items or future collections?
This is quite difficult to answer. If the reader is inspired by our shot, she should be able to imagine and create that image today, and not wait another whole quarter. That's what we were told the survey. They admitted that if they see something in a magazine, they would like to get it right now. We try to talk directly to the reader like that, the way that many magazines did in the 1950s 60s.
Would you describe the magazine as being artistic, or a means to sell clothes?
This is a very interesting point. Because we are talking about the fashion business, which involves the sale. But if we eliminate that, what is its objective? Helping a woman feel inspired. I recently had a meeting with Domenico Dolce, I was sitting in his boutique and saw the joy on women's faces when they chose an outfit. They bring life to dresses and accessories, which otherwise would have remained just things on the shelves. That's why we make magazines: they help to translate vision into reality. A simple catalogue style directory will not give you inspiration. You need a sensitive and educated assistant, and that's our team.
For the first issue you included a lot of show business related content, such as movie producer Harvey Weinstein's column. How did that come about?
I do confess that when working on the first issue I had to persuade many people to be included. People were cautious, thinking that we were actually creating a catalogue or look book. Many contributing stars appeared because of friendship and personal relationships. This applies to Harvey, who wrote an essay, and Uma Thurman, who agreed to an intimate countryside shoot and and interview with her children. After the launch, things are much easier. We have planned ahead for many months, and there are plenty of other big names coming.
Rihanna and Lucy Yeomans
By featuring Gisele Bündchen as the cover star of your launch – who is over 30 with two children – are you saying that this is a title for more mature readers?One of the best compliments that I have heard was the head of a particular fashion house, saying: "This is a magazine that I want to show my teenage daughter!" I also have a daughter, and I would like her to read this type of magazine one day. Giselle sends a message not about how old she is, but how she has built her life.
THE WORLD IS BECOMING A SINGLE SPACE, AND IT HAS A NEW TYPE OF HEROINE
The world is becoming a single space. And it has a new type of hero. We need to listen to what people want
You have been quoted in the past that you moved to Net-a-Porter to create new rules in the media game. Have you?
I would say that we are much less reliant on strict borders. The world is becoming a single space. And it has a new type of hero. For example, we interviewed model, music producer and fashion muse Caroline De Maigret. I'd seen her in the past and thought, who is this incredible woman? This new type of heroine, popular worldwide, is interesting to so many people. It does not matter where you live, if you have an interesting story, you can tell it at a global level. We need to listen to what people want.
Do you rely on letters to the magazine?
Employed successful people rarely write letters to the press. The best we could do was to gather a focus group, which included students and people who were interested in a free lunch and a glass of bubbly. Now we, the editors, have to leave the ivory tower, go to their readers and start a dialogue with them. Be it via a website, in social networks, everywhere. At the same time I don't want to lose all ties with the past. It's just important to introduce new elements.
How did you form your editorial team?
It was not fleeting decisions. I carefully selected editors and experts. Most came from off traditional magazines and newspapers; the Sunday Independent, The Telegraph, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Elle. But these are people who think in a new way. For example my fashion editor keeps in mind the market and buyers. For the Gisele the cover we specified all details and prices, even the underwear she wore. In addition, we put the project on a new level, a digital version that can be viewed in normal mode, with links to videos and where to buy the clothing.
Lucy Yeomans and Net-a-Porter Publishing Director, Tess Macleod Smith
Will you translate Porter into other languages?
We have thought about translated versions, which may come in the future; it all depends on the needs of the market.
Do you think printed magazines will exist in 10 years?
Magazines will still exist, in what form and in what medium is another matter. Whatever the case, we will provide a product that meets our reader's needs at the time.