It seems that the launch of e-commerce site Style.com is not going well - at all. And the failure of the site can only be seen to be made worse by the journalists' evident distaste for the fashion director - Yasmin Sewell.
Sewell has made the age-old mistake of failing to realise that nothing is ever 'off the record'. In an article that criticises the website's successes throughout, it comes to a crescendo in the final paragraph which leaves a bad taste in the reader's mouth. Not only does Sewell swear, she also manages to add in a criticism about the entire fashion journalism industry.
In situations where the financial health and successes of an organisation are not looking good, building an attractive corporate profile via the media is essential. This article is a reminder to us all of the importance attached to being media savvy, and what the repercussions are if organisations get over-confident in their abilities and fail to remain professional in every single media conquest they pursue.
Style.com is a new venture from Condé Nast. The world’s leading fashion-magazine publisher is taking a huge gamble that it can also become a fashion etailer. The launch has been endlessly delayed, but it finally went live two weeks ago and has been greeted with arched eyebrows. “They have to demonstrate that they are a capable retailer. It looks like it’s going to be tough,” said Luca Solca, a senior luxury goods analyst at the investment company Exane BNP Paribas. When I interviewed Style.com executives last month, they insisted Gucci, Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino, Chloé, Marni and Christopher Kane were partnering with the new site and many would be available at launch. Yasmin Sewell, 40, the former chief creative consultant for Liberty who is fashion director of the new site — running it with Franck Zayan, 51, former head of ecommerce at the Paris department-store group Galeries Lafayette — boasted she was creating “the world’s best personalised department store”. As this article was going to press, Sewell got in touch and asked to do another interview. She assured me that the big brands that she and Zayan had promised would arrive “between August 31 and into November”. But she couldn’t give me any firm dates. Asked whether Burberry was on board, she replied: “F****** hell, I hope so.” Although the official launch was on September 2, Sewell stressed that this was just the first stage and limited to the UK. Style.com had not “launched globally” yet, as her team wanted to “test” the site. “By the end of September into October, we will start opening up,” she said. In our final conversation she said that she had not realised I was “a serious journalist” who would check facts. She added: “I’m used to doing more fluffy fashion articles.”