menu

Piers Fawkes: Is Monocle The New Louis Vuitton?

Piers Fawkes: Is Monocle The New Louis Vuitton?
Advertising

Tyler Brûlé has built a brand that has the ability to rival many European luxury companies across product categories.

Piers Fawkes, PSFK
  • 3 march 2012

As Monocle hits its 5th anniversary, I wonder if it’s time to re-contemplate the brand that that Tyler Brûlé and his team have worked so hard to build. Is Monocle still a magazine or is it now a brand with credibility that could rival any of the European luxury houses?

Monocle launched as a magazine and from the outset it was a hit. Brulé, a London-based Canadian, seemed to have outgrown his Wallpaper roots and had created a journal that from the outset fed a mix of play, work and world agenda to a creative class where social, business and politics had become just as blurred. As the magazine grew, it sprouted small shops across the world, created online radio shows, collaborated tirelessly with brands and started selling premium products. The About Us page on the Monocle.com reads:

Monocle has built an hourly, daily and weekly relationship with its readers to create an opinionated and predictive package that can be accessed anywhere in the world, at any time.

Breaking traditional media models, Monocle has also created a unique retail channel with freestanding shops in London, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Tokyo and New York – along with an e-commerce site. The shops sell a mix of limited edition collaborations with brands such as Comme des Garçons, Tomorrowland, Valextra and Drakes, plus Monocle’s own-designed posters, and notebooks. The best-selling Porter x Monocle series of Japanese-made bags and travel goods have become globally renowned.

 

Until very recently, I saw the product stuff as a bolt on to the publishing arm. It seemed to be a playful niche to have. Then I came across a link on a blog to a pair of plimsolls. Simple Japanese pumps that had been created in collaboration with Japan’s Moonstar. This “exclusive” pair of lightweight slip-ons sells for a boisterous $215.

I tweeted my surprise at such a high price during the downturn, but with a little contemplation I started to wonder whether my reaction was a little naive — as if I walked into the store of a high end luxury brand, found a nice white shirt and then was gobsmacked when I turned the label to see the price. In Prada or Tom Ford, things seem to me to be priced at a premium but they do that because that’s what the brand wants to charge their clientele. I probably find the items in those stores expensive because I’m not their target market.

 

Since discovering those Japanese slip-ons, I’ve started to realize that I found the product expensive because I’m not Monocle’s target market either. This epiphany has made me think about how the content has changed over the last few years: Brûlé definitely has developed an agenda to discuss the global political scene and the management of economies. It’s far less about the cool Korean band which featured on the cover of the first copy I bought — and much more about how cities can be planned so they can compete on the world stage. While I think I want to know about the latter, I think my interests still truly lie in the former. I, like other people I’ve recently spoken to, find in near impossible to get into the magazine anymore. This is because I’m no longer the target market. I’m not a high-end luxury consumer who worries everyday about the macro ideas that the Monocle team put forward.

Because of its history, it’s very easy to still think about Monocle as a publishing business. When I put a question out on PSFK’s Facebook page many readers insisted that the brand is still a magazine. But I’m not sure. I think Monocle has become a luxury product brand that creates content, and owns both online & offline media and retail channels. It has done this by spreading a message about itself by collaborating with other brands (advertisers and sponsors) and then collaborating with brands to create a broad range of premium products that it couldn’t have created alone in the short period of its existence. I would argue that the brand values rival those of Prada or even Tom Ford. And in terms of business-model, Monocle is leaps ahead. Surely a brand like Prada would love to have the magazine’s reach and engagement.

I’m not sure the people at Monocle would like their well-cared for magazine to be positioned as a luxury product brand — but it’s not always up to the people who work at a brand to decide what the brand is about. Today, many luxury brands feel manufactured and the holding company’s strategy of putting them through a BCG Matrix lifecycle of stars to cash cows must be plainly obvious to any premium product-buying customer. They want more. They want better. Brûlé and his team have not only had the opportunity to write about fashion, travel, automotive and jewelry — they have had the opportunity to create world-leading businesses in each market by leveraging a very 21st century top-of-the-market brand.

Monocle

Advertising
Trending

Bringing Food Innovation To America's Crowded Milk Market

Food
Mobile Today

This Startup Wants To Digitize The Loose Coins In Your Pocket

CoinOut is a new app that lets you save your extra change from cash transactions as electronic funds

Advertising Today

McDonald’s Is Accepting Trash As Currency In Exchange For Burgers

An initiative in Stockholm is trying to keep streets clean while satisfying hunger

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Culture Today

Google Is Using Virtual Paper Airplanes To Bring People Closer Together

The tech giant released an app that lets people throw their good wishes out into the world on the International Day of Peace

Advertising Today

Get Paid For Traveling In San Francisco After Rush Hour

BART Perks rewards commuters who take early or late trains by giving them extra points to trade for money

Culture Today

Artist Designs Covers For Books That Don’t Exist

Published by the fictional "Specious Books," the subversive works facilitate a conversation regarding the artistic integrity of graphic designers

Work Today

Editorial Roundtable: The Arrival Of The People-First Workplace

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary, AltSchool and thinkPARALLAX enumerate the reasons why companies need an employee-embracing workforce in order to exist

Financial Services Today

Device Makes Digital Currency Feel Tangible

The concept gadget wants you to experience the highs and lows of spending money

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed Today

Why Building Better Offices Is The Key To Employee Engagement

Interaction Designer and Audio-visual Technologist at ESI Design illustrates the value in creating environments filled with surprise and delight

PSFK Labs september 22, 2016

The Future Of Work: Why Innovation Is Every Employee’s Job

PSFK Labs sits down with management at Johnson & Johnson to learn how the company comes up with their next ‘big idea’

Advertising Today

Lyft Gives Free Rides To Those Who Have Had Too Much To Drink

Thanks to a new partnership between the ride sharing service and Budweiser, drunk passengers are able to receive free rides

Augmented / Virtual Reality Today

NBC Is Planning To Stream The Presidential Debates In Virtual Reality

Partnering with AltspaceVR, the broadcaster offers another way for Americans to engage with the election season

Travel Today

What Happens When An Entire Airport Terminal Rebrands Itself?

JFK's Terminal 4 underwent a dramatic design facelift to guide and delight travelers

Home september 23, 2016

Watch This Fire Pit Dance Along To Your Favorite Song

Music City Fire is a system that is designed to flicker in time to ambient music

Automotive september 23, 2016

Slick GPS Navigator Gives Directions To Moped Riders

This small, round device attaches to a sideview mirror to display maps for safer traveling

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

Home september 23, 2016

A Clock That Beautifully Manages Your Information Overload

The wall-mounted timekeeper is made to help people maintain focus and stay up to date with their appointments

Arts & Culture september 23, 2016

Performance Piece Blends Dancers Into Folds Of Light

The work provides commentary on the increasing connection between programmed and analog dimensions

Design & Architecture september 23, 2016

Design Firm Adapts Childhood Homes For Unemployed Young Adults

The studio has unveiled three prototypes of transformed living spaces for people forced to move back in with their families

No search results found.