Hear the newest looks: Why fashion podcasting is seeing a boom

Snapchat may be the newest fashion-industry “it” platform, but another burgeoning form of media is quick on its heels – podcasts.

In an industry that thrives on aesthetics, a shift toward audio may seem incongruous. However, a growing number of fashion enthusiasts are finding value in spotlighting designers in an audio setting as a way to share their tastes and amplify brands. Advertisers are taking note.

While the top 10 podcasts on iTunes are primarily news and sports related, the Fashion & Beauty podcast vertical features nearly 250 popular shows from a variety of hosts, including major publications like Vogue and prominent personalities like Leandra Medine of Man Repeller. The bulk of the list is composed of bloggers and online retailers, who have increasingly turned toward the medium as an extension of their content.

Claire Mazur and Erica Cerulo, founders of the popular fashion and retail site Of A Kind, launched their podcast “A Few Things With Claire and Erica” in 2014 after launching a newsletter first. The duo said they wanted their show to humanize the glitz and glamour of the fashion world through strategic storytelling.

“Brands themselves aren’t enough – it’s about the people behind the brand, and I think it’s especially true in fashion,” Mazur said. “[With podcasts] you can hear the voice, and it’s pretty informal. They’re not scripted for the most part; they’re really conversational, and I think that works well for audiences.”

Mazur and Cerulo have a natural cadence and chemistry fostered from a 15-year-long friendship and shared passion for identifying emerging designers. They avoid operating as a one-note podcast by tackling a range of topics each episode – seamlessly navigating from their favorite upscale sock brands to how they wash their faces, while integrating interviews with up-and-coming artists like textile designer Caroline Z. Hurley.

“When someone knows the story behind the products they’re buying, or the experience that they’re having, they’re so much more invested in it, I think that’s what works about the podcast,” Mazur said.

Megan Collins, founder of the menswear site Style Girlfriend and the podcast “Undressed,” which started in September 2015 and recently featured designer Todd Snyder, said her show provides insight into the fashion world in a more intimate way than other forms of media. Undressed has 15,626 downloads to date, which Collins says is “small but growing.”

“Podcasts are about amplifying the personalities,” Collins said. “Fashion can feel like this thing that’s very exclusive, that exists behind a wall of coolness.”

Providing an exclusive look behind runway shows has become enticing for both listeners and podcasters alike, including Karen Morrison, founder of MODTV Fashion Video Podcast. Morrison straddles the line between visual and audio in her show, providing listeners with the option to listen to audio exclusively or watch accompanying videos on their phones or desktops to tune into interviews with Gigi Hadid and Gisele Bündchen.

“It gives you an inside look into what it’s really like to be backstage, what it’s like to go to a Chanel show. It gives you a very personal, up-close view that’s authentic and fun,” Morrison said of her show, which is one of the top downloaded podcasts in the Fashion & Beauty vertical on iTunes.

‘Crushing the goals’ 
Morrison has also done brand integrations and sponsored content on her podcast with companies like Maybelline to develop shows that are integrated across verticals and cross-promoted on websites and social accounts of the brand as well.

Though podcast advertising has historically been dominated by the Squarespaces and Audibles of the world, the recent interest in fashion podcasting is diversifying the portfolio as an increasing number of companies seek to leverage the reemerging medium. Though the CPM for top-performing podcasts is an estimated $20 to $45 – higher than the average radio show, television network or Web ad – online retailers are keen to tap into the space and connect with consumers in a new way.

According to Lex Friedman, vp of sales and development at the podcast advertising network Midroll Media, these companies are seeing their podcast spend translate directly to results. “Retailers are crushing the goals that they’re setting. They’re able to beat their targets again and again and are upping their ad spend every quarter,” Friedman said.

Friedman, who works with companies like Bonobos and Trunk Club, said one of the biggest draws of podcast advertising is the ability to reach a rapt audience of listeners who are choosing not to skip the ads. While consumers tend to change the dial when listening to radio ads, skip through commercials on their DVR or download ad-blockers on the Internet, Friedman said listeners are sticking around for promotional content on podcasts.

Both Mazur and Collins said they have seen an uptick in requests from prospective advertisers for their shows. “A Few Things With Claire and Erica” has a running partnership with Heritage Radio Network, and its parent company Bed, Bath & Beyond is a seasonal sponsor.

“People are starting to understand the value of podcast advertising, especially host-read spots that act as a really valuable form of advertising,” Mazur said.

As podcast listener rates continue to swell — approximately 46 million Americans, or about 15-17 percent of the population, listens to a podcast each month — fashion podcasters anticipate that they will continue to see growth in advertising.

“I’m excited for other fashion podcasts to enter the scene,” Collins, the founder of “Undressed,” said. “I’m sure there’s a lot we can learn from what other people think is interesting about fashion.”

Image courtesy the “Undressed” podcast