Fashion I was watching The September Edition yesterday, the documentary about the titanic struggle to run the fashion industry between two huge personalities, Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington, and decided to have a look at Vogue Magazine's US website to see if I can tell who's won this month's battle. I duly typed vogue.com into Firefox and was offered this page. There's Vogue.com at the top and the new issue with Alexa Chung on the cover.

Except that's British Vogue which is a different publication to its US parent. The url had resolved to vogue.co.uk. I tried typing vogue.com once more, and again I was presented with the British version. Vogue are geotarding (a word I hate because of its connotations but tolerating for the purposes of this post) the US equivalent of their website from the rest of the world (or the UK at the very least) and are sending us to our local equivalent. Interestingly they aren't redirecting traffic to other local sites; I can happily look at VOGUE.fr If you're in those countries and you look for vogue.com do you receive your own version too?

On one level this makes some sense. In the UK the main news stand edition of Vogue is the British version, the one available to the vast majority of people, the US edition will only be available in some select stores with a giant locality identifying label plastered across it (I'm guessing -- it's not something I've checked though that seems to be the arrangement with Wired Magazine).

Fashion trends tend to be localised (I think) and so they may feel it's important that someone looking for vogue.com should be presented with content that's relevant to their geographic area and more closely associated with the UK version of the magazine; the less net savvy might not realise that vogue.co.uk is their local site and they're trying to minimise the confusion. Even the link on Vogue's wikipedia page that says US site sends me to the UK version.

If this is policy rather than an error, flies in the face of what the internet is about, global communication and a levelling of this kind of geographical difference. There's something quite liberating about sitting in a flat in Liverpool and being able to reading The Washington Post, Pravda or The New Zealand Herald and receive a local perspective on a story without the ex-positional hand-holding. Similarly there must be some fashionistas who are keen to see what's being worn at New York parties this season, perhaps be ahead of the curve. Surely it's outside Vogue's business interests to send them towards rival websites that may be open.

Additionally, although there is a pull down box at the tail of the page labelled "Vogue International" it's a mess of broken and poorly updated links. I've checked. Selecting "US" takes you back to .co.uk (comma) "France" resolves to this old domain with DNS made easy ironically plastered across it. "Italy" sends us to style.it, publisher Conde Naste's main portal for the region and not Vogue's own section. Most of them call themselves VOGUE.com when the inclusion of the international sub-domains would help underscore their localised origins.

There is a work around. Google "Vogue" and under the curiously high link for British Vogue, which is also presumably the result of my location, there is the link the US vogue.com. Click that and you're back at the UK version. But click this Google cache version and low and behold we can finally see the glorious majesty of Vogue USA with Jessica Biel on the cover. Click on one of the menu options and you're sent to that page at vogue.com and you can continue to read the site's content to your heart's content.

And in case you're wondering, I'm still none the wiser about this season's trends, though I suspect it's probably related to textures and a simpler more classical look in whatever colour is the new grey. I have no fashion sense, spending most of my days in t-shirt and jeans. But I do think that the fashion industry is more important than it's given credit for since on a design level at least along with architecture and advertising it's one of the visual art forms that exists in our general environment and the only one that (nearly) everyone has to buy into and be knowledgeable about.

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