Warning….nostalgia: incoming! For those of a certain vintage, NYLON Magazine is reminiscent of aughts-era poster girls like cover stars Avril Lavigne, Cory Kennedy, and Gossip Girl actresses, as well as music issues created with MySpace (!). While the mag ceased print in 2017, when Bustle Digital Group acquired the brand two years later in 2019, it always intended to revive its pages. Alas, between the pandemic and what’s felt like an unrelenting struggle for traditional media in an increasingly-online world, timing didn’t feel quite right. But recently, amid industry news of layoffs and site closures, there’s also been a slowly-brewing, positive uptick thanks to a notable return of print with a refreshed POV. Emma Rosenblum, chief content officer at Bustle Digital Group, confirmed that NYLON is set to relaunch in a biannual format, starting with an issue pegged to Coachella next spring. Here’s the low-down on why the appetite for print is something the fashion world should take heed of…
How long has this been in the works for—NYLON cut its print edition in 2017. Have you always wanted to bring it back?
We have been wanting to bring it back since we acquired it, right when I started at BDG in 2019. That was always part of the plan, because it had such strong heritage history in print. We hadn’t really found the right time, and the pandemic put a hold on expansion plans for us—and the whole industry. Now felt like the right moment for a number of reasons. We have the right staff at the company to be able to pull something like this off. We have an amazing creative staff and photography staff, who’ve all been producing magazine-quality work for our digital sites. We knew we could translate this very easily to a huge print product. It’s also the 25th anniversary of NYLON, and the 25th anniversary of Coachella, the event that we’re pegging this print product to. We have a huge NYLON House event at Coachella, so to have the two things to coincide was a no-brainer. We also think right now is a great time for advertiser interest in print products…I know that sounds counterintuitive in that print advertising is down across the board, but we actually feel that, particularly in the luxury side, we see strength in that area.
Do you have any insights as to what was going on originally when NYLON shuttered print, and how the magazine is better positioned now? Is the product going to look different now in terms of tone and aesthetic?
By the time we acquired it, there wasn’t even a print edition. That was at a period in time when a lot of magazines were shutting down. It was right at the turn of print advertising really tanking. NYLON had its heyday in the early aughts, I think for a while it was limping along under different ownerships and I don’t think they were doing well financially. In terms of what we see changing now, first off, they were on a schedule 12 or nine issues a year. We’re going to make it much more about collectible, two-times-a-year, luxury issues. And it’s different than NYLON ever has been. It’s going to be a bigger size and have thicker paper. I think that already will distinguish the old from the new. It will still have a cool, indie sensibility in a way. NYLON is very much about discoverability; finding out about a new musician who’ll be huge in six months. We’ll definitely keep that, but we’ll certainly blow out the visuals and take the amazing photography we’ve been doing across our digital brands, but showcase it in a pretty place.
Is it going to be free and only distributed at the event, or will it be on newsstands too?
We’re going to print about 50,000 copies. It’s going to be on newsstands, and we’ll have it at various boutique hotels, lounges, and at Coachella; at the event. It’ll be available for purchase online too. But for it to be on newsstands, particularly for our staff, many who have mostly had an all-digital career, it’s a novelty and that’s a really cool project for our creative teams.
Lauren McCarthy just stepped into the editor in chief role. Will you expand the team, or use staff from other BDG titles to execute this twice a year?
We’re mostly using in-house staff. Our fashion, creative, and photography teams are ‘hubbed’ anyway, and work across all our brands, and they’ll be working on NYLON print. The digital team will work on the product, and we’ll pull in people from other sites. It’s a real group effort! I’m proud that we’ve been able to gather all these amazing people on the teams to put this out, but we’ll hire some freelancers to work on it. The following issue will be out in the Fall. If it becomes something we scale, we’d probably build a whole staff. Everyone really wants to work on it! Everyone’s hands went up immediately.
It’s a positive sign when media in general feels like a lot of doom and gloom right now. What do you hope returning to print signifies about your belief in print?
I think this is a great moment and culmination of what our strategy has been over the past four years since we re-thought what a media company could be in the 2020s. For 10 years, it was about chasing traffic, and that was not my background coming into the company. It wasn’t something I felt was sustainable—and neither did Bryan [BDG founder, Bryan Goldberg.] When you’re reliant on Google, it’s an impossible business to win. So what we focussed on was building strong brands; brands that were known, and were cutting-edge, and looked great. Brands that we could build on. We’ve been able to expand to events and parties, because the brand is out there. So I think print works on top of that, because we’re creating these ‘moments’ for the brands. Like an awesome celebrity cover, something that someone can buy and collect. That’s the way into the future: strong, moment-led brands. I don’t think that the click-click-click, ephemeral [content platforms] are the future. We’re slowly pivoting to a world where it’s about quality content, and print is definitely part of that.
View this post on Instagram
Do you ever envision other BDG sites becoming print publications too?
It’s always a thought! Because NYLON has the history and heritage, it’s definitely the easiest one to bring back and people are most excited about. Because a brand like Bustle never had a print product to begin with, I don’t know if people would go to pick it up. Unlike NYLON, which reminds people of when they were young and they’ll be excited to look at it. But there’s so many ways for the brands to expand beyond a dot com. It’s never a never, but we don’t have plans to create print [entities.]
What has been the response like so far?
We have just put it out to market, and there’s a lot of excitement. Advertisers have been asking for print. The initial interest is very high so we’re thinking about what market we’re targeting, what is it going to look like, and how do we get people super stoked about it.
What reader are you most interested in attracting? Coachella is obviously about buzz and trends….
The great thing about NYLON is that it has different appeals. It has the cool kid, Gen Z, jet setter-type reader, who’s certainly the person we’re creating the magazine for. But then you also have the nostalgia of the millennial audience that loved NYLON when it first came out, and they have the real spending power now. It makes it a fun editorial product to work on too!