Vogue And The Tech Hard Sell

It isn’t often that one learns about cool apps from Vogue. In case you don’t read fashion magazines, American Vogue is basically like a seasonal shopping catalogue for women who find themselves, or aspire to find themselves, in the 1%. With an average cost of $4,375 per item displayed, there are very few people who can afford what Vogue is peddling. But those who can, buy.

This September, the 902-page fashion tome is peddling tech — hard sell. Forget if you will the few data points pointing to a tech “slump.” Judging by the number of times Instagram and Twitter are mentioned in the September Vogue, it’s no longer okay to be a beautiful Luddite. Now you have to be gorgeous AND have built an app.

Like Peek founder Ruzwana Bashir who is featured wearing techie favorite Oscar de la Renta. Or model Topaz Page-Green (what a Vogue-friendly name!) whose yet-to-be released Feedie app turns your food selfies into charitable donations. Of course.

If you’re trying to profit off of consumer tech, consider your market expanded this September: Nike’s FuelBand now pairs nicely with a Cartier LOVE bracelet. Make up artist Michelle Phan’s 800,000 Instagram fans, 400,000 Twitter followers and 1.3 million Facebook Likes are considered just as valid a status symbol as Marissa Mayer’s multi-colored, thousand-dollar, de la Renta (of course) cardigans.

What better proof of this tech hard sell than Mayer herself? Her 3,000-word profile in the magazine, any tech reporter’s wet dream, reveals insights into Yahoo’s stealth “Project Grand Slam” and a breakdown of how the Tumblr deal went down last Spring, in addition to What Marissa Is Wearing: “That’s when we said, ‘My gosh, if we’re going to do all this, it makes sense to merge.’ I loved David’s perspective on the products, and I think he respected mine. We had a tremendous meeting of the minds in terms of what we wanted to build and what we wanted to do.” Hell, the profile even made Techmeme.

Oh and of course Google Glass makes an appearance, continuing its vigorous efforts to expand beyond Josh Topolsky’s face onto 12 pages of model Raquel Zimmermann’s and, maybe someday, if everyone keeps their fingers crossed long enough, yours. This most recent Glass press cycle leverages Vogue, Nina Garcia, Diane Von Furstenberg, model Coco Rocha and a bunch of non-tech influencers in an attempt to make Google’s wearable form of Google+ something that normal people aspire to. At least it costs less than a Hermes Birkin.

Even before the Marissa Mayer star turn, the issue is littered with QR codes, so readers can call up all kinds of supplemental behind-the-scenes content. An apparition of Editrix Anna Wintour herself appears after you scan in a pretty randomly placed code. On the ads side, a CoverGirl Hunger Games campaign directs you to Blippar, an app that literally brings the advertisement to life, i.e. acting out a full CoverGirl Hunger Games makeover in front of the reader on iOS, like something out of Minority Report.

Vogue knows where its bread (advertisement) is increasingly buttered (through, or by, tech). Tech is a double target more than ever before — both as an advertising category and as a medium through which print can claw back some of the revenues it is losing in the overall decline of traditional ads. The fact that the industry is now fashionable enough for editorial fodder is a byproduct of this dynamic, the two go hand in Cartier-encrusted hand.

In fact, the two major non-tech profiles of stars in the issue make points of grounding themselves in a tech context, such as  Jennifer Lawrence’s mocking of Jonathan Van Meter’s “Radio Shack-era” recorder and pop star Grimes’ giving up on the medium entirely: “I don’t keep up with the Internet,” she says, a statement telling because of the fact that it would have been nonsense five years ago. Back then, Vogue didn’t even keep up with the Internet.

And now? Well now it courts the online world, and its money. Between begs at the end of articles to download the Vogue digital edition and pleads for QR code scans of the Wintour explainer, Vogue, and thus its 11 million strong audience, wants a piece of our brave new world, signaling that they’re aware of and willing to play by our rules.

And, for now, for novelty’s sake, we’re more than willing to let them have it. 

Mayer Vogue (pdf)

Google Glass Vogue (pdf)