Joe Zee shocked the style industry last April when he announced he was leaving his role as the creative director of Elle to relaunch Yahoo's fashion vertical. On Wednesday, Zee's project, which has been tightly under wraps, officially launched.
"I think when you break it down, [fashion publications] all do the same thing," Zee tells Refinery29. "We all go to the same fashion shows, we all walk away and say red is a big color this season." So, how will YahooStyle tackle things differently?
"For us, it’s pop culture," he explains. "It's fashion. It's on the streets. On the red carpet. It’s on the runway, but it’s in our everyday lives. I am a master at being obsessed with pop culture, so it’s like, how do you wrap that into everything we do? Do we react to something that’s going on? Absolutely. Angelina Jolie got married. She got married in a dress with her kids drawings on it. That's something to talk about."
Zee also emphasizes the visuality of the site, highlighting that every story has, in a way, its own cover. The site's first "cover star" is Jessica Biel, who dons a mix of Altuzarra, Michael Kors, and Isabel Marant looks in her feature.
"Every month, when I was at a magazine, I got to do one cover," Zee says. "On this website, every single story and every single tile is a cover. Every single thing has a couple seconds to register interest with every single reader. So, for me, it’s like, is that compelling? Does that bring you in? Does that grab you?"
Despite working with a small team (under 10 employees), which includes former Into The Gloss editorial director Nick Axelrod and former W magazine production member Bifen Xu, YahooStyle has launched with a packed editorial schedule. Stories include "How To Dress For Extreme Temperatures" (Zee was inspired by people looking like "wet cats" at the U.S. Open) to "Three DIY Ways To Create A Brangelina Style Wedding Dress." The mix emphasizes Zee's priority of focusing on real-time news and stories that will get Yahoo's wide-range of readers talking.
"In the world of fashion, we love declaratives," Zee writes in his first editor's letter for the site. "You know: Cara is the new Kate, orange is the new black, flats are the new heels. But my personal favorite is… September is the new January. It’s back to school, back to work, back to Fashion Week. It’s that time of year when everything is new (again!). Another season, a new look, a fresh start... And the best part of all is that I can reset and have the start of my fashion year now, filled with new beginnings. Which brings me to this site, my very own 'new beginning!'"