We all know Style.com as the go-to site for runway galleries and incisive reviews. To keep readers coming back when it’s not fashion month (though with resort, pre-fall, couture, etc., when is it not?) Style.com has today announced the launch of a new channel called Style Map.
The ambitious new project brings on 60 new contributors from 33 cities around the world to expand Style.com’s global reach and editorial content. The impressive contributor list includes everyone from Courtney Love and Kimberly and Tyson Chandler in New York, to Olympia Le-Tan in Paris, to Kylie Minogue in London, to Rinko Kikuchi in Tokyo, to Jason Schwartzman and his designer wife Brady Cunningham in Los Angeles, to designer Maki Osakwe in Lagos.
“I think we already have a large existing global audience and our coverage has always been global but we felt there was an opportunity to do something much bigger within that global focus,” Style.com Editor in Chief Dirk Standen told us, adding, “and also I think now a lot of the energy in art, design, and fashion is coming from all these cities around the world–not just the four fashion cities but Berlin, Tokyo, Shanghai, even places like Lagos, Nigeria where Maki Osakwe is based…there’s tremendous energy in all these places around the world and I don’t think anyone has tried to capture it before.”
As for how Style.com managed to wrangle all those bold-faced names to contribute–for free, mind you–to the site (for a full list go here), Standen said it was just “word of mouth.” “We started by going to friends, people we knew, to ask who in your city is immersed in the local scene, has something interesting to say… that’s how we started to put it together.” The contributor list isn’t comprised of just fashion folks and celebrities. There are artists, architects, chefs, DJs, boutique owners, and more. “We wanted people from the art world, food world, music, movies–not just fashion,” Standen explained.
Submissions–which can be as short as an image and a caption–will go up once a week and they will be largely unedited. It’s essentially user generated content (UGC if you want to get tech-speak about it) but the users have been carefully hand-picked. “We’ve given guidelines, discussed what we think will work best in terms of images and text but we’re not really looking to edit people,” Standen said. “It should be about their voices.” That should bode well for the notoriously unfiltered Courtney Love, whose first post on the site, about her inability to play guitar while wearing high heels, is pretty tame.
There’s a ton of content to pore over and from my initial exploring, it’s a mixed bag. Delfina Delettrez Fendi’s vintage shopping suggestion in Rome sounds awesome, and Rose Byrne’s description of attending her first Chanel show is funny and sweet (she endearingly likens herself to a Golden Girl writing that she would be “happy in a floral smock, with a matching sofa”). Rinko Kikuchi just threw up a photo of one of her outfits during her Pacific Rim press tour. A.P.C.’s Jean Touitou simply put up a photo as well, but since he’s Jean Touitou it’s much funnier: He posted a photo from a horse race gate adding the caption “If I were a horse, that’s what I see at work.”
There are some kinks to be worked out, too–namely the search function, which doesn’t work at all right now. With that much content coming in, being able to sift through it via search will be key. Still it’s a great idea: free original content that should draw in a wider audience.