MEDIA: SHOP! - AN EXPERT'S VIEW. Shop! offers high-street fashion information Company wouldn't provide, Kim Iwanczyszyn says

Shopping, me and an Expert's View - a perfect combination that gave me the perfect excuse to visit Kensington High Street last weekend to put the latest shopping guides to the test.

The September issues of women's monthly magazines have not only seen upweighted fashion pages in the usual suspects (Elle, Marie Claire, etc) but some of our favourite glossies are now providing us with high-street fashion shopping supplements.

The two main contenders are Company's Shop! (a listings guide to high-street fashion) and New Woman with Boutique (a more editorial-based fashion supplement). They appear to have gone head-to-head over this issue amid rumours about who copied who and who rushed their special out the fastest.

Whatever the truth, it really is irrelevant because, in fact, both products grew from separate ideas and the results are very different indeed.

These ideas were both born from ongoing reader research. The readers of Company said they loved the magazine but that they'd like more high-street fashion. So rather than upset the balance within the main magazine, the answer was to produce a separate high-street fashion supplement. Shop! does exactly what it says on the tin.

New Woman, on the other hand, has recently redefined its editorial pillars for the much-needed revamp and has used Boutique to further communicate these. Cult of Celebrity, Pursuit of Youth and Have-It-All Generation are all evident on the front cover of Boutique.

In my opinion, Shop! will prove itself to be the more useful to shoppers and readers, as it provides the best of the high-street fashion and fits in your handbag, whereas Boutique is everything you already get from New Woman's main magazine with a shopping slant (perhaps not such a compelling piece of added value?).

With this in mind, I can envisage Shop! working very well as a standalone sell, but Company will need to be careful that this is not at the expense of the fashion coverage within the main magazine and ask itself whether it can keep up with the churn of the clothes rails in store.

Anyway, we should never criticise any venture that gives the reader of magazines in this sector relevant added value as opposed to tacky covermounts - recent disasters being bags you can't open, sun hats more suited to Mother & Baby and sunglasses which smelled very unpleasant.

To end, I have to applaud J17, which has produced the best high-street fashion guide in my opinion with the J17 100 Hottest supplement. This was by far the most useful this weekend.

- At 27, Kim Iwanczyszyn, a media buyer at MediaCom, would rather be seen with a copy of Shop! than J17.

Publisher: The National Magazine Company

Frequency: To be decided

Circulation: 330,373

Full-page ad rate: £11,000

Advertisers include: Dorothy Perkins, Dior, Sonneti, Lacoste, Elizabeth

Arden

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