After 11 years at Vogue, most recently serving as the mag's senior accessories editor, Filipa Fino is leaving the glossy world behind for digital, or, as she describes it, 'the wild wild west.' While the circumstances surrounding Fino's departure from Vogue last June made headlines for the wrong reasons (was she fired? WWD insinuated there was "inappropriate behavior" while Fino denied any rumors of her firing to Page Six), her newest venture, an online mag devoted to accessories, should eclipse that bad buzz. Fino is one of the first, as she would say 'old-school,' glossy vets (from Vogue no less) to break off to compete with blogs and fashion sites run by relative newbies. And that makes us sit up straight and take notice.
Fino File will be a monthly online magazine with an e-commerce component that is set to launch before the fall shows in February. There will also be a weekly newsletter of sorts (it's in the works) emailed out to subscribers featuring shopping tips and things that catch Fino's eye. But she's releasing a holiday gift guide on November 28 as a teaser of what's to come--it will feature wish lists from Tory Burch, Narciso Rodriguez and Prabal Gurung as well as Fino's own expertly curated gift picks. We got on the phone with Fino who was refreshingly candid about why she decided to make the jump to digital and why Vogue can't keep up.
Fashionista: Why go online? Filipa Fino: Around two years ago I started directing the accessories content of Vogue.com, which was completely new and foreign to me. I'm old school, I've been working in fashion since I was 23, which back then was 1995. I'm from the era of no emails, no cell phones when we traveled, everything was faxed.
But all of a sudden the scenario of fashion changed. These bloggers started appearing and they were sitting front row next to Anna. All of a sudden people wanted to know what I was wearing. I would put a shoe up [on Vogue.com] and the guy at Barneys would call me and say it sold out. I was amazed by the power of this and the power of my personal authority and taste to the outside world--not just the fashion world. I was reaching out to the masses and it was incredible to me. So I said, this is my next move.
What will Fino File bring to the already crowded fashion space online? I felt there was no real editor's voice. There are a lot of young kids doing a lot of great blogs, and I learn from them, but there was no filtered, editor's point of view. [These bloggers] are 24, they haven't had that experience. Like when I say something is 'so Calvin' I mean Calvin from when Calvin was there. Accessories have always been my expertise, it's what I've been focused on for the last 11 years, and I think it's a market of its own and there was really not a voice there and that's what I hope to fill.
Do you think we'll see more editors from traditional print backgrounds bringing their experience and expertise--and contacts--online? I think so. Time is unfortunately the biggest enemy of print. What's happening--and this is a frustration already at Vogue.com--is that you hold the best content for your print magazine; we were always proud at Vogue to be the first to have a story. But what started happening was that it takes three months to publish a magazine, so by the time we held information for the magazine to actually get produced, the news was out. The bloggers had it and it became viral and it was on Twitter and Facebook and people were still waiting for us to translate it three months later. And it's like, unless Grace Coddington is styling it, there's not that much interest for us in saying it so late. So it became this full battle: what do we hold back, what do we put online? Of course the magazine, being from that school, always won and we had to do our best to expose stories in a different way so they could be seen differently. But at the end of the day it was information that most people already knew. I mean, three months is a season these days. The speed of all this information that's available to everyone is going to change every editor's role in the publishing world. Most editors are going to have to change their tune and their vision.
What parts of your experience at Vogue will translate to Fino File? What lessons did you learn from your time at Vogue? I feel more than anything the aesthetics is what I'll take from Vogue and my Bazaar days. Things being visually pleasing is very important to me. I also think that Anna was fantastic in really getting the essence of the time we're living in every issue. Even with fashion as a point of view you knew what was going on in politics and in society and in the environment; she was able to grasp that scope with a fashion point of view. I hope to do that with an accessories point of view.
By the same token, fashion is much faster; people want it to be shop-able and they want options. Yes, the creativity in Vogue is fantastic but it's not always realistic. And I think women are looking for that bridge of something that's really beautiful but that you can still wear. The strength of the mass market is huge--true style is mixing a Chanel jacket with a Zara shirt. It's universal fashion. That's why you're seeing Lagerfeld at Macy's and Versace at H&M. It's time to explore that [fashion for the masses] and I don't think Vogue has gotten to that point yet.
What's your vision for the magazine? I feel accessories are my authority and I want to stick to that. But I want to have fashion seen through the eyes of accessories, which means that while most people will start with a look and complement it with a shoe, a bag, etc., I want to start with the earring and tell you what goes with it. It will reach out to fashion, entertainment and what's happening in the world but with an accessories point of view. The other thing is making it shop-able. I shop on Net-a-Porter and Amazon and the more I can get online the better--why lug it from a store? But I still think those models [on e-tail sites] are very generic; they just rotate and are badly styled and don't entice you into buying anything. I still want that Vogue picture. But I want to be able to shop it. So my magazine will have styled editorial shoots. There's also a huge disconnect between what magazines are showing and what women are actually shopping for at that time--I picked up Elle recently and there was a picture of a model in a bikini on the October issue! The earliest I'll show fall is August and the earliest I'll show spring in February.
Will you be flipping through the online pages come February? We know we will...