It takes some guts to launch a fashion magazine in 2012, but Antonin Gaultier is up to the challenge. His digital magazine, De Rigueur is only available via Kindle, making it quite a special case amongst the numerous fashion publications available out there. He chose to focus on specific subjects and to give them the time they deserve rather than discarding them after a few lines as fashion’s frenetic pace often requires. The magazine might be in its early months but Antonin got big plans for it. Will it succeed to be the influential magazine it wants to be? Time will tell, meanwhile, we meet with Antonin for an honest discussion about fashion, media and the digital world.
Can you tell us a bit about De Rigueur et explain how it is different from other fashion magazines?
De Rigueur is a digital-only publication dedicated to contemporary creation launched in April 2012. In each issue, we meet with people and clothes that inspire us through lengthy and dense interviews of creators, thinkers, icons, etc. This rigorous and rather informative approach is quite unique amongst the fashion world: De Rigueur voluntarily steps back from the fashion circus.
Why did you chose the digital format and what are its advantages?
The same question comes up with every publication: is it worth being printed? From the moment we chose to have long texts, going digital was the obvious choice. The question for De Rigueur was rather which digital format? Kindle seemed to be the best solution for its easy diffusion through the Amazon store, the possibility to read the magazine on an iPad, iPhone, Android, Mac, PC.
There are also all the advantages of the digital format: an almost immediate publication, with the possibility to edit the file after its release. It just made sense to work digitally. The format and the content must be in harmony. If we chose to do a print publication, it will have to be drastically different from the digital version.
De Rigueur has a more retrospective, or more meticulous vision of fashion, as Encens Magazine or Style.com/Print. Does it feel like the fashion world is currently questioning its own existence and may be slowing down its frenetic pace?
Two dimensions need to be distinguished: the commercial reality and the necessity to have a critical discourse on fashion. A majority of fashion magazines exists to sell advertising. The editorial content can sometimes be excellent but it no longer matters. What’s important is the tunnel of ads at the beginning of each issue. A magazine like Purple for instance remains great from an editorial point of view, there is a real interest for art, for what is going on in the contemporary world. But who buys Purple for the texts, besides me? As long as there is money, there will be fashion magazines, more or less successful. The problem is that they all look the same: I do not buy magazines anymore, even if I love it, because I’m having a hard identifying what is essential with them. Not to mention the design that is everything but innovative, in most cases, it is just some inferior copy of M/M work.
Besides, there is an ongoing demand for an original point of view on the contemporary world. It can be incredibly beautiful Tumblrs, blogs from insiders who tell their lives or publications like De Rigueur, focusing in depth on a theme. There is a world of niche publications with specific target audience and strong identities.
Is being digital-only also a way to be free from the pressure of advertisements and preserve your voice?
Focusing on a fashion, without caring for short term preoccupations, gives us our freedom. De Rigueur is interesting because of the quality of its contents and the fact that its conversations are very direct : this freshness is part of our identity. The magazine is beyond the usual issues of fashion magazines like fashion show invitations or promotional gifts. We are glad to be invited to shows but we don’t write about the collections. I do not think having advertisers would change things. De Rigueur is not against advertising. We chose from the very start to be add-free on the e-book publication to highlight the design and the reading comfort, but we might work with advertisers in the future, on specific projects.
The first newspaper made for the iPad, The Daily, is closing down, Newsweek is going digital-only. There are mixed signals about the future of printed news. How do you see the evolution of digital media, especially in fashion, in the years to come?
The reasons for The Daily‘s failure are obvious: trying to fit a large structure on a single platform. Spending that much money and resources just for the iPad does not make sense. The newspaper should have been available on various supports from the very start, it could afford it. For Newsweek, we will see how this transition goes. They will be able to generate revenues by being 100% digital. But will it be enough to compensate their revenues?
In the future, there will still be big names like the New York Times or Vogue that will be available on a large number of platforms. There will also be new brands, 100% digital, completely freed from the old patterns of the newsroom/press, sometimes coming from retail, like Net-A-Porter. Light but powerful structures, because they were born during the digital era. There will also be small and edgy labels like De Rigueur, famous for their approach, digital or not but whose influence will be recognized beyond the size of their structure. Well, that is what I wish for De Rigueur.
The fourth issue is just out, a word on the next issue?
For the next issue, we are going after a a country relatively new on the fashion scene: China. There will be portraits of designers and students and reports from there. Exciting.