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Entertainment plays role in Gilt’s publishing push

Luxury retailer launches print and digital magazine this fall

When online luxury goods retailer Gilt Group ventures into the publishing biz for the first time this fall with Du Jour, a print and digital magazine targeting affluent consumers, entertainment will be a key part of its content strategy.

Jason Binn, who previously ran luxury mag publisher Niche Media (behind glossy pubs like Gotham, Los Angeles Confidential, Ocean Drive and Hamptons), has tapped InStyle senior editor Nicole Vecchiarelli and Elle.com editorial director Keith Pollock to serve as co-editors-in-chief of Du Jour. Binn serves as CEO and publisher.

Vecchiarelli and Pollock are in the midst of developing the look and voice for Du Jour, but given their backgrounds, it’s clear that the worlds of film, TV and music will play a role in how Gilt’s new platform promotes the products it sells on its members-only website, giving publicists and brand reps another high-profile platform for their clients.

Celebs have long been seen as “tastemakers” by marketers who influence consumers on what to buy — whether it’s clothing they wear, a car they drive or a destination they visit.

And that hasn’t been lost on Binn and his new team at Du Jour, who will be based at the company’s Park Avenue offices in New York.

“The entertainment community and celebrity culture will be an important focus of Du Jour’s Web and print content,” Vecchiarelli told Variety. “This audience is used to the best of the best, and that includes their interest in entertainment and celebrity. I am really excited to take what I’ve learned in the last 10 years of booking celebrities and help deliver them to Du Jour in a unique way.”

At InStyle, Vecchiarelli played a key role in the booking of talent and the shaping of stories. “I look forward to doing that in a broad leadership capacity at Du Jour,” she said.

Du Jour will initially target more than 3 million consumers who earn more than $250,000 a year, have a net worth of around $5 million, own homes valued at more than $1.5 million and spend $100,000 or more on luxury goods each year, while making philanthropic donations of over $10,000. It’s an audience that collectively spends around $600 million a year on products, the company said.

The goal is to print 250,000 copies quarterly, available through subscriptions, and offer another 15,000 at newsstands in key U.S. markets that include New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Dallas, Las Vegas and San Francisco, where roughly 80% of the sales of all luxury products and services are made, along with seasonal sites like the Hamptons, Aspen, Colo., and Sun Valley, Idaho.

Readers will also be able to access the magazine on Du Jour’s website and through Gilt.com, with content posted on social-media sites.

Naturally, the magazine will link readers to products for sale on Gilt.

Launch comes as luxury mags are seeing an increase in advertising revenue.

For example, American Express Publishing’s new Departures magazine (aimed at Platinum Card holders) saw a 46% increase in ad revenue in the quarter that ended Dec. 31, according to the Assn of Magazine Media. W magazine was up 14%. Full page ads in Du Jour will cost $32,000.

It also comes as others are launching their own luxury lifestyle pubs, with Bloomberg starting Bloomberg Pursuits to compete with Amex and Conde Nast’s Style.com.

Gilt is helping launch the new mag as it needs the additional revenue; earlier this month, it pinkslipped 10% of its 1,000 staffers because of lower sales at its site. The mag’s backers include Gilt Group’s Kevin Ryan, who is putting considerable financial and promotional resources into the publication, as are Binn and James Cohen, head of magazine distributor and retail chain Hudson News.

Vecchiarelli was enticed to leave InStyle and launch Gilt’s new magazine at a time when the Gilt brand is growing but digital publications are finding new ways to tell stories through the Web and mobile platforms like smartphones and tablets. She previously spent 10 years at Conde Nast as entertainment director at Teen Vogue and Details.

The move gave her the opportunity to join other e-trepreneurs who have built up new consumer brands online.

“The great thing about InStyle is what an established brand it is, how there is mass, universal appeal to its readers,” Vecchiarelli said. “But you can also be limited by a brand’s success. There’s less willingness to take a risk or shift the perspective because you don’t want to rock the boat. Jason kept emphasizing the blank canvas that we were being presented with, and it is tremendously exciting.”

She hopes to “revolutionize the way we look at editorial. Jason is a proven innovator in the publishing business, and my co-editor, Keith, is an incredible force in the digital realm. It certainly doesn’t feel like a traditional launch with a powerful brand like Gilt behind it. The two key draws for me were the model and the people involved in bringing it to life. Traditionally, you create content and hope that the audience will follow, but here, the audience exists and is engaged, powerfully so. We have been given a chance to be part of a new way of shaping content and delivering it to an already engaged reader.”

Du Jour’s editorial staff also includes Alan Katz (former publisher of New York and Cargo magazines) as chief revenue officer, Hearst vet Cynthia Lewis as VP of sales and Lonnymag.com CEO Max McDonnell as associate VP of product development.

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