Highsnobiety: Writing the Digital Fashion Content Playbook, from the Street to the Runway
From personal passion blog to street style and digital media authority, Highsnobiety created a one stop shop for 18-24 year old affluent, style-seeking males and built a B2B brand services business to show everyone else how to do it.
In 2005, business school student David Fischer discovered the newly founded Blogspot.com, and decided to start a personal passion blog to talk about his favorite topic – the then-niche streetwear subculture. Highsnobiety’s earliest content consisted of obscure Japanese brands and limited-edition sneakers.
Today, Highsnobiety is the authority for music, fashion, luxury, and streetwear in a world where sneaker culture is globalized, streetwear has merged with high fashion, and where millennial attention is elusive even in the digital environment. It has over 9 million visitors a month, 500 million social media impression on Instagram, and in January 2018 secured an $8.5 million series A round led by Felix Capital. It has expanded its content format from product features to full length documentaries, music and fashion news coverage, and a biannual print magazine. Most importantly, Highsnobiety commands a large share of attention from and expertise about the affluent, educated, male 18-24 year old urban community. Their curated but quick stream of content keeps this extremely difficult market to reach coming back to the platform. They support quality content with equal investments in superior UX/UI for a community to discover and discuss.
Media and Creative Content
Not content to settle as a publishing business, Highsnobiety has taken full advantage of digital disruption and the brands that seek to learn how to adapt in the new digital age. Its first monetization strategy was largely in banner advertising from brands looking to reach the male market. However, the team discovered that the brands’ creative assets did not aesthetically fit the website and decided to redesign the banners and reshoot the promoted products. Eventually, that evolved into shooting full look books for their clients. In 2015, they formally created Highsnobiety+, a media agency specializing in content strategy, distribution, and production for clients such as Nike, Adidas, Converse, Redbull, and Ebay that are looking for brand content designed for digital instead of forcefitting their traditional creative materials for mobile screens. The once-niche publisher managed to disintermediate traditional big-6 media and creative agencies and went straight to brand clients with their own meteoric rise to flourishing in the digital age as a case study.
Highsnobiety+ then moved up-market, both services and clients-wise. Instead of just focusing on media, the team utilized their expertise and access to their taste-making and highly involved demographic to offer brand consulting. Again, their own success of building cultural credibility had their brand clients actively seeking co-creation in brand strategy. They asked questions like “Who should we be working with? How can we make sure that our product is liked by your community?” Highsnobiety successfully leveraged their readership community and authority over fashion, music, and streetwear to remain top of mind experts for brand that sought more connection with affluent, young males.
Creating a Digital Luxury Playbook
Brand services were especially relevant for luxury brands, who were historically one of the most reluctant industries to adopt digital strategies in fear that the brand would lose its exclusivity and thus needed partners to aid in their digital transformation. Making matters more urgent was the merging of streetwear and high fashion. Suddenly, traditional luxury fashion houses had to learn from the newest entrants and disruptors to luxury and start thinking like streetwear brands such as Supreme and Palace. As a result, Highsnobiety added Mercedes Benz, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton to their client roster. In order to fully service these clients, Highsnobiety added event production into their brand services. Gucci’s fall 2016 collection launch event had their top brand clients in their late 50s in the same venue as streetwear teenagers – giving Gucci access to a brand new younger audience.
Over the past year, Highsnobiety’s nextplay is in commerce. This expansion comes from its origins as a curator for its audience, creating a feed of carefully handpicked product recommendations based on the trends. It’s e-commerce store, What Drops Now, gives very select brands an additional distribution channel where >$1000 Prada jackets are listed right next to $35 body wash, in true luxury meets the street fashion. It has also announced product collaborations with Prada and even Netflix’s Stranger Things. While other publishers rush to e-commerce for easy revenue, Highsnobiety chooses to tie its collaborations with its major content releases.
By creating a one stop shop for a key consumer and advertising market, Highsnobiety has become one of the winners of the digital revolution.
Student comments on Highsnobiety: Writing the Digital Fashion Content Playbook, from the Street to the Runway
Great article! It seems Highsnobiety has been able to adapt to a sustainable business model by employing key monetization strategies through their brand consulting services and e-commerce. As fashion and tastes in the industry are constantly changing, I wonder if they will be able to stay relevant and appeal to their target market and provide a constant stream of content.