Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
A Swiss publisher is trying to attract a paying audience with an app sampling stories across publications
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Sept. 24, 2009, 10 a.m.

Gray Lady couture: New York Times has a fashion hit

The top-selling item in The New York Times Store this summer was a set of rakish rain gear with a literal spin on journalistic transparency. Isaac Mizrahi, the clothing designer and reality-TV host known for democratizing couture, fashioned a see-through rain coat and umbrella for the Times, which offered the set for $99. (See photo at left.)

In his monthly memo to staff yesterday, Times president Scott Heekin-Canedy, channeling the Style section, called the ensemble “a summer sensation for The Times Store.” The umbrellas have sold out, and the rain coats (sold separately for $65) are in short supply, though I’m told more of both are on their way. The items were produced exclusively for the Times, but neither has the newspaper’s branding on it.

Though hot-selling merchandise will hardly cure the Times Co.’s cashflow woes, the collaboration with Mizrahi points to potential revenue streams for news organizations selling tangible, private goods. The Globe and Mail, in Toronto, sold out 500 spots on a luxury cruise with its journalists last year. And The Telegraph, in London, has found success selling items from tulips to panama hats. Obviously, newspaper stores aren’t just for framed reprints anymore, although Heekin-Canedy noted that a 40th-anniversary edition of the Times’ famous “Men Walk on Moon” front page, signed by Buzz Aldrin, was “one of the store’s most popular items” this summer, despite a $795 price tag.

The Times first collaborated with Mizrahi earlier this year, when he produced a silk scarf and leather hand bag in a warm palette that Adolph Ochs might have found garish. (A recent Times review of Mizrahi’s work described it as “awash in gorgeous color.”) The hand bag included a gothic “T” medallion on its handle, a subtle form of branding that’s absent from the rain gear.

In addition to its Times Store wares, the newspaper recently launched a wine club at $90 or $180 for six bottles. (The Wall Street Journal and USA Today are also hawking vino.) In his memo, Heekin-Canedy said that Times employees, many of whom absorbed a 5-percent pay cut earlier this year, can get a 30-percent discount on their first shipment from the club.

I kid about all this, but merchandise sales, whether t-shirts or transparent vinyl rain coats, are likely to play a significant role as news organizations scramble to replace print advertising revenue. Mizrahi, who gained fame as a designer for Target before moving to Liz Claiborne last year, once said of his work: ”My goal is that you won’t always be able to tell the difference between what is Target and what is couture.” For the Times, the idea is you won’t be able to tell the difference between a newspaper company and a fashion label. Stacy Green, a Times spokeswoman, told me in an email, “We are looking to work with other designers in the future as well.”

POSTED     Sept. 24, 2009, 10 a.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
A Swiss publisher is trying to attract a paying audience with an app sampling stories across publications
Tamedia’s 12-App collects the 12 best stories each day from the company’s 20-plus publications.
What does it take to be a “full-service” digital journalism organization? Ask Discourse Media
“We’ve gone down lots of experimental rabbit holes.”
Spain’s Eldiario.es has 18,000 paying members, and its eye on the next several million
“We have a potential of six million readers. You may not convince all six million people to be your socios, but if you learn more about their interests, you can get closer.”
What to read next
0
tweets
The Guardian’s first VR project makes viewers experience the horrors of solitary confinement
“It’s a story which is all about space and the environment you’re in. Even though this is a small space, the story is all about that space.”
0TipOff, an email newsletter, is trying to explain sports to non-fans
Launched last fall by a team of investors and writers, TipOff has attracted 50,000 subscribers.
0Good news, publishers: People will read your long stories on their phones (for two minutes, anyway)
People will read longer content on their smartphones, a new Pew report finds.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Fuego is our heat-seeking Twitter bot, tracking the links the future-of-journalism crowd is talking about most on Twitter.
Here are a few of the top links Fuego’s currently watching.   Get the full Fuego ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
The Miami Herald
Creative Commons
St. Louis Beacon
San Francisco Chronicle
El Faro
Time
Current TV
Outside.in
Storify
Fwix
Foreign Policy
Mozilla