First it was the magazines who had to scrap their premillennial ways and embrace new media for fear of complete obsolescence. Now it’s their web offspring (Style.com and such) that are playing catch-up, because in the game of fashion web traffic, there’s a new king: e-commerce sites. This weekend, the New York Times reported that the young e-retailer Polyvore has essentially out-editorialed the editorial sites by letting users play stylist and cutting out the masthead experts altogether. Stats cited (and this is coming from the paper of record here) show that Polyvore, which allows members to collect and post favorite items much as any style blog would do, attracts 835,000 unique visitors a month — 25 percent more than Style.com, for example. Add to that the fact that users of Polyvore, StyleCaster, Kaboodle, and other similar sites can actually purchase the items pictured directly, and you’ve got a business model that makes the costly, corporate-backed web presences developed by Condé and others look positively Web 1.0.
Great. Fine. But what does this trend in crowd-sourced style-casting auger for the larger industry vehicles? Will Vogue have to become a superannuated version of Gilt Groupe just to maintain the interest of its millennial audience? Will the fashion cognoscenti have to make room for amateur editors operating from their basements in order to sustain click-through rates? Does Anna Wintour even know what “click through” means? Go ahead and max out your Master Card online while we research.