With more retailers increasingly creating content as well as curating product, we sat down with a few stores to get the low-down behind their editorial ventures.

Seasoned Highsnobiety readers will have no doubt noticed a growing amount of content emerging from online stores in recent years. From in-house editorials and interviews to print publications and mixtapes, many stores are choosing to expand from product curation into dedicated content. It seems just selling product isn’t enough these days – you have to sell a lifestyle, too.

What’s driving this? We spoke to some retailer friends of ours to get the low-down.

Image from MR PORTER

Perhaps the best example of the retail-editorial crossover is menswear online megastore-cum-magazine MR PORTERThe luxury retailer houses everything from avant-garde Parisian labels to meticulously crafted Italian tailoring and premium lifestyle products, alongside a weekly-updated online journal and print mag which brings their goods to life. Content ranges from expert guides to editorials and interviews with the industry’s leading figures. “We wanted an editorial hub which worked with our retail environment and complemented it, ensuring men would feel comfortable to come, enjoy, learn and shop,” U.S. Editor Dan Rookwood told us. “The whole idea is to combine content and commerce – and to do so in a way that each supports the other…we know from our analytics that this works because readers of our content are higher spenders than non-readers.”

Image from THE NEW ORDER

As one of the Western world’s premier destinations for obscure Japanese imports, HAVEN‘s features and reports give their discerning customer base an in-depth look at the minds behind the store’s brand roster. “We have really strong relationships with a lot of industry leaders that weren’t getting the shine they deserved. Creating our own content helped tell their stories and brand identity,” the store’s co-founder Arthur Chmielewski told us. “For us it is incredibly important to have unique content,” and like many retailers, the store’s editorial content helps them stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace. “We also have a uniquely HAVEN style that can often be seen in our editorials and styling…Our core customers gravitate towards us because we speak to them instead of the masses.” Not only that, but the store’s editorial direction is set to expand into a fully-fledged print publication in the coming months.

Image from FOTT

Moscow’s FOTT specializes in bringing Western apparel to Russia’s ever-growing menswear market. The store produces a product-centric blog and the occasional video project – like their stylish video report on Moscow’s tuner culture – but the crown jewel of their editorial project is their bi-annual FOTTPAPER print magazine. “The digital format is not as authentic as books or magazines,” the shop’s PR manager Kirill Astrakhantsev told us, “you feel the texture and the smell of the paper, turn the page, look at the pictures. There is physical contact. You can easily concentrate. Physical media creates a different relationship with a customer. That’s why we started FOTTPAPER.” Again, the store’s editorial direction is designed to engage and enrich the customer’s experience. “FOTTPAPER is the essence of our team’s current mood and interests. As our project and our team evolve, we want our customer to feel this vibe.”

Image from MR PORTER

It’s clear, then, that many retailers are finding that editorial content is a great way to not only enrich their customers’ experience and perception of the store, but to boost sales, too. Just as brick-and-mortar retailers are adding experiences such as in-store cafes as a way to keep people shopping, online stores are increasingly turning to content creation as a way to attract customers – and to keep them coming back.

But what does the future hold? Will we soon see a new era where stores and magazines are almost indistinguishable? “I believe, in the luxury fashion sector at least, this is the publishing model of the future” MR PORTER‘s Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Langmead told Business of Fashion, pointing to “a blend of content and commerce talking in realtime to a highly-engaged audience with a finger primed to purchase…more and more retail ventures are going to be launching magazines — print or digital, or both.” We’ll have to wait and see.