Amy Odell on BuzzFeed's New Fashion Vertical and Her Dishy First Book About the Fashion Industry

Shift will soon make way for the launch of BuzzFeed Fashion, a new permanent fashion-only vertical that Odell will head up. Yep--Amy Odell is back in fashion. Oh, and she's also writing a dishy book about the fashion industry.
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Shift will soon make way for the launch of BuzzFeed Fashion, a new permanent fashion-only vertical that Odell will head up. Yep--Amy Odell is back in fashion. Oh, and she's also writing a dishy book about the fashion industry.
Photo: Melissa Horn

Photo: Melissa Horn

The last time we caught up BuzzFeed's Amy Odell (who formerly helmed The Cut), she was telling us about the site's just-launched women's vertical, Shift, which she's been heading up ever since.

Almost exactly a year later, we've learned that Shift will soon make way for the launch of BuzzFeed Fashion, a new permanent fashion-only vertical that Odell will head up. Yep--Amy Odell is back in fashion. Oh, and she's also writing a book! More on that later.

Since its inception, Shift has been serving up interesting, largely original content on topics that interest women, from breast feeding to Occupy Wall Street taking on unpaid internships, to BuzzFeed-y things like "3 Easy Ways To Upcycle Credit Cards Into Jewelry."

BuzzFeed Fashion, launching April 8, will also do that. "We want to have original content across the board, but we will find ways to cover the stories that everyone's talking about, that everyone wants to read about, but in our own unique way." She'll also be "applying the BuzzFeed format to fashion," referring to the sites signature often-viral photo lists. She points out Shift's hilarious "24 Ridiculous Ways Fashion Week People Dealt With The Blizzard" as an example. "It's an interesting challenge to take something like fashion that's niche and taking it mass, while at the same time making it feel insidery, but I think we've been able to do that and I think it's really exciting that a site like BuzzFeed that is so big and gets so much traffic wants to move into this space."

Like the rest of BuzzFeed, the new channel will be image-heavy. "There are so many amazing ads and editorials that BuzzFeed isn't doing that much with now that I think we can put up and showcase well and bring attention to really great photography and up-and-coming photographers." She also hopes to get models into the office to film GIFs.

Odell won't be doing it alone. She's brought on London-based Alex Rees, formerly of The Cut. "He's so great and so funny and his voice and my voice just go together really well, so it seemed like a really natural and easy decision to bring him on board."

Shift will still exist, but it will be divided into two sections--fashion and DIY. The latter will be run by Peggy Wang, who is presently a contributing editor at Shift. But why? Odell tells us Shift has been doing well and getting tons of traffic--"something like eight million uniques a month"--and that BuzzFeed noticed that the fashion content was doing exceptionally well--well enough to get its own section. "People that are into fashion really just want fashion," she said. (We hope so!)

As we all know, the fashion industry can be fickle, and slow to accept new media; even online outlets with a massive reach can take a backseat to more established print publications. But, we were pleased to hear from Odell that BuzzFeed had its biggest NYFW presence ever last month and that people in the industry have been supportive and "excited about us coming to their shows."

Which makes sense. Odell sees BuzzFeed Fashion as a valuable resource for fashion brands: "People understand that we're trying to make content go viral and that's what the fashion industry is trying to do. They're also trying to make their content go viral."

However, that doesn't mean Odell doesn't have room in her portfolio for a little traditional media. She recently sold her first book to Simon and Schuster, called Tales from the Back Row: An Outsider’s View From Inside the Fashion Industry. "It's going to be short, hopefully funny essays about the fashion industry based on my experiences; but less about me, me, me, and more about just my point of view of the fashion industry and the silly and fascinating things that go on," she said.

We've always been fans of Odell's biting and hilarious take on fashion, so suffice it to say we're excited to read more of it--whether on a computer screen or on paper (or, you know an e-reader/tablet/smartphone/whatever).