Shopping for the Home with 'Domino'
LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:
A new shopping magazine hits newsstands next week. Called Domino, it follows Lucky and Cargo, successful fashion shopping guides for women and men. Domino is about the home, lamps, fabrics, looks, products, all fetchingly displayed with sources and prices. Domino is window-shopping for your house in a pared-down format close to a catalog. Deborah Needleman is Domino's editor.
Ms. DEBORAH NEEDLEMAN (Editor, Domino): Basically we tried to create a style workbook for people, the idea of a girlfriend taking you shopping. The tone of our magazine is very conversational, slightly irreverent. I mean, decorating your house isn't the most serious pursuit in your life, but it's something that people care about.
WERTHEIMER: One of the things that you've included as a--I guess it's going to be a recurring feature--is Can This Outfit Be Turned Into a Room?--which is a very funny idea to me. I mean, you have a photograph of a young woman wearing a sundress over pink jeans and turquoise flip-flops. I mean, she looks like sort of a grunge girl, here. And then...
Ms. NEEDLEMAN: She is a little bit grunge.
WERTHEIMER: ...boom, she turns into a dining room.
Ms. NEEDLEMAN: I think that for women of a certain age, they're very comfortable dressing, and it's a little bit confusing to sort of take your personal style and express it in the context of a room. And for us, I mean, we do think that fashion and home design are sort of both parts of the ways in which we express ourselves.
WERTHEIMER: And every single thing that is in this room that is based on this sort of '70s-looking girl, there's a Web site or a telephone number attached to it. And a price.
Ms. NEEDLEMAN: We tried to create a magazine that was of the Web era. I mean, I think the Web has completely transformed the way people shop and the market, making the marketplace just so incredibly vast. I mean, we no longer rely on our local store to, you know, furnish our entire homes, which I think people did in the past. Everything that we show is sort of available across the country. It's not--it doesn't matter if it's, you know, some artisan throwing pots we love in Milwaukee, you can get it no matter where you live.
I think there's been a sort of great democratization of style and it used to be that sort of style and design were elite concerns, and now there are so many great, inexpensive, well-designed products that a magazine that's a sort of tool that's weeding through all this stuff for people who don't have the time is very helpful.
WERTHEIMER: In choosing things that go into the magazine, the stuff that goes into the magazine, does selection imply that you like it, you stand behind it, you think it's good?
Ms. NEEDLEMAN: Yes, absolutely. Because of that, our credibility is essential with a magazine like this, and as soon as people feel like you're sort of pushing a product for some particular reason that isn't actually good, a magazine like this sort of falls apart.
WERTHEIMER: Deborah Needleman of Domino.
Samir Husni studies the magazine industry. He says that shopping is the American way and these magazines make it easy.
Dr. SAMIR HUSNI (Magazine Industry Analyst): The origin of those magazines started in Japan, and our first attempt to copy that trend in the States was back in the mid-80s where most of the catalog companies started converting their catalogs to look like a magazine and have an article here or article there. That faded with the big depression of the early '90s and then the economic downturn. And I guess Conde Nast were smart enough to say, `There's a void in this market here,' and Lucky was the first magazine to be tested.
WERTHEIMER: Do you think that in an era when magazines are constantly crying and carrying on that they are failing, that this is a format that's going to work?
Dr. HUSNI: One way we can always judge the success of magazines is we start seeing copycats and imitators. Hearst launched Shop Etc. Same thing is happening in Canada. We have Wish magazine and we have Lulu. I mean, it's sprouting like mushrooms.
WERTHEIMER: Well, now, all of these magazines have advertising. What is the connection, do you think, between the ads and the book?
Dr. HUSNI: Let's put it this way. If those editors are going to go and promise the advertisers that, `You give me an ad and I will recommend your product,' those magazines will not exist. Our public is smarter than that. Now are those magazines going to write anything negative about any of these products and still expect to see the ads in the next issue? I have my doubts.
WERTHEIMER: Samir Husni is chairman of the journalism department at the University of Mississippi. He also publishes an annual guide to new magazines.
Mr. Husni, thank you very much.
Dr. HUSNI: Thank you.
WERTHEIMER: This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.
STEVE INSKEEP (Host): And I'm Steve Inskeep.
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