Celebrating 20 years of Harper’s Bazaar Australia with editor-in-chief Kellie Hush

Kellie Hush on changes due to social media + her rivalry with Vogue

Premium global fashion brand Harper’s Bazaar marked 150 years this year. The celebrations will continue into next year for the local edition of the title, which will mark 20 years in Australia with the March edition. The anniversary issue will be out in February and the editor-in-chief Kellie Hush told Mediaweek it will big.

Hush revealed she’s been working on the birthday issue of the magazine for about nine months.

Spring carnival season is a busy period in her diary. Hush paid a visit to the Mediaweek HQ for the Seven Days podcast in between a week of flights in and out of Sydney. “I am doing the horse races and editing a magazine – wearing two hats,” she said. “What I love about the races is that you get to see what Australian women are wearing. Harper’s Bazaar is very influenced by what is happening internationally but when I go to spring racing I see what Australian girls love to wear.” It’s all about fluorescent colours at the races this year, which is something that was a trend on the runways in Milan and Paris earlier this year.

“Everything filters down here a little bit later on,” Hush said. The turnaround time for clothing to go from runways to retail is much quicker now than it used to be when she first started in the industry more than 20 years ago. A large reason for this is the popularity of social media. This has also impacted what can be printed on the pages of a fashion magazine like Harper’s Bazaar.

Hush explained: “Everything has changed dramatically. Everything is instant now. As soon as the Chanel show starts and the first look comes down the runway, it’s all over Instagram and Facebook.

“When I first started going to fashion shows, there was no social media. It was all very secretive. No images could be printed until 12 weeks later when you put your next magazine out.”

The world of fashion has become more accessible than ever before. Brands have to have a 360 offering to capture and engage with old and new audiences, wherever they may be. Harper’s Bazaar Australia has wound back its activities on Twitter. Facebook and Instagram are the title’s social platforms of choice.

“What was limiting about Twitter was that you couldn’t put a lot of information in there. So you got more clever on Facebook about how to push traffic to your own website,” Hush said.

However, she also said with Twitter recently increasing the character limit for tweets from 140 to 280, there is potential for brands on the micro-blogging platform to drive more traffic back to their website. (Read more about the changes to character limit in tweets at Mediaweek.com.au.) Asked if Harper’s Bazaar would reconsider upping its activity again on the platform, Hush said: “For us it’s about where our audience is, which is really on Facebook and Instagram.

“Personally, I consume my news on Twitter. If there is something happening, I definitely go to Twitter first. I wouldn’t go to Facebook, because the feed is very influenced by who follows me and who I follow.”

When the Weinstein scandal broke, Hush and her team were on Twitter checking for the latest developments. “Twitter had the best access for all the stories that were happening,” Hush said.

Instagram is also a big source of stories for the Bauer title and a good source of “inspiration”.

While video is the latest priority for many brands and a key part of their social media strategy, it is not for Harper’s Bazaar. “It doesn’t tend to work so well for us,” Hush said. “We get better engagement with galleries. But we try everything, as everyone would.”

Vogue Australia v Harper’s Bazaar

Despite Harper’s Bazaar being a well-known fashion magazine in Australia and around the world, Hush likes to describe it as a “niche” title. This is because of the premium market that it plays in, which is also the space that NewsLifeMedia’s Vogue Australia plays in.

The rivalry between the two titles dates back some time. And in Australia, there is also “fierce” competition between Hush and the Vogue Australia editor-in-chief Edwina McCann.

“Our careers have followed identical paths,” Hush said. “She was the fashion editor of The Australian when I was the fashion editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.

“We have always been fierce competitors… [but] we are also good friends and have a lot of respect for each other.

“There is a long history of editors of Vogue and Bazaar not talking to each other. But we don’t do that.”

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