Ken Downing joins Hearst’s fashion magazine e-commerce startup

Neiman Marcus’ former fashion director Ken Downing is moving on to his next big project.

Downing has joined publisher Hearst as chief brand officer to oversee the vision, creation and marketing strategy for a new fashion magazine e-commerce venture called The Tower, Hearst said Thursday.

The publisher-steeped digital shopping platform will begin launching next spring and will have four individual storefronts by the end of 2022, each with the perspective of Hearst’s fashion magazines. Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, city and countryside And Esquire.

Downing left Neiman Marcus in 2019 after three decades with the Dallas-based luxury retailer. He later joined developer Triple Five to become chief creative officer for the 3.3 million-square-foot American Dream mall in New Jersey, which opened in Fall 2019.

“La Torre brings together everything that I have always considered the key to creating the shopping destination par excellence. I couldn’t be more thrilled, ”Downing said in a press release announcing his appointment.

The merchandise in the magazines will be available for purchase. The platform combines content with commerce with a single checkout and shared back-end technology.

Print and digital publishers will partner with Downing, who will contribute her “deep knowledge of the (fashion) industry – along with her strong relationships with the people who run it,” said Carol Smith, senior vice president of luxury collection. Hearst and editorial director.

Hearst believes digital will be the dominant channel for luxury shopping within a few years, said Kristen O’Hara, chief business officer of Hearst magazines. “Companies that provide content, care and customers to luxury brands will drive this transformation of commerce.”

The concept of the market has exploded not only from retailers like Amazon, which gets half of its retail sales from third-party sellers and, more recently, from Walmart, but also from publishing. The New York Times’ The Wirecutter shopping advisory website earns affiliate commissions when customers shop via the site link.

And individual influencers on platforms like Dallas-based LTK (formerly rewardStyle) have become competitors of fashion magazines as the internet has allowed shopping affiliate relationships to flourish. LTK was valued at $ 2 billion last month after securing a $ 300 million investment from SoftBank’s Vision Fund.

Chirping: @MariaHalkias

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