Fashion's Esteemed Chronicle Goes Downmarket CelebrityS

Women's Wear Daily, U.S. fashion's venerable trade, has apparently decided that a new section dedicated to $525 sunglasses, Swiss spas and photos of Kate Winslet in sneakers is the best use of its time and talents. Why?

The particular shot of Kate Winslet (above) is included in a gallery of celebrities who, in WWD's estimation, need to go to "Fashion Rehab." The requisite Michelle Obama gallery juxtaposes her sartorial "Hits And Misses," though the rationale for determining why, for example, the First Lady's Naeem Khan column dress was rated a "Hit" while her blue Peter Soronen one-shouldered gown was a "Miss" is never revealed. WWD is apparently wading into the morass of Internet celebrity gossip, and it's doing so under a section name that sounds like a plastic surgery procedure with a high likelihood of disfigurement.

Why? Why would a fusty, reliable, hard-working old trade set its sights on this particular frontier of new media, and publish trend pieces about jazz in Paris interspersed with "Hollywood Swimsuit Moments" and seasonal product guides for women with the means to afford $470 sequined micro-shorts? Isn't there some real news WWD could be breaking? It's not like Elle didn't finally get a new publisher today, or Calvin Klein didn't announce its first multi-brand single-model exclusive since the days of Natalia Vodianova. Eyescoop, which unlike the majority of WWD's content, is not paywalled online, is clearly an attempt to generate some pageview revenue. But with this kind of content, that will be a struggle.

In theory, trades — especially good ones that regularly deliver well-reported stories and break important news — should be immune to this social-media-driven jack-of-all-trades theory of publishing that is lately faddish. And even if WWD really, truly, "authentically" feels the "need" to "expand" its "brand" into "online media," does it really have to do it so totally half-assedly? The Fug Girls, Eyescoop is not.

Eyescoop [WWD]