After days of rafting, hooking worms for bait and shaking sand out of her skirts during a family trip to Oregon, Karen Snyder took a break. Lounging near her hotel alongside a riverbank, she flipped open her laptop and waved off the kids. "Mommy is going to take 15 minutes to look at what's going on in the world of Louis Vuitton," she told them.
Ms. Snyder, who owns an art gallery in San Francisco, may not be privy to the inner workings of the fashion world, but she is possessed with the fashion addict's need to know. She indulges that craving with a host of online fashion magazines, Web sites that cater to readers who, like Ms. Snyder, never seem to get their fill of advance intelligence on trends, shopping or designer dish.
Conceived to mimic mainstream glossies, titles like Hintmag.com, Fashion156.com and Glossmag.ca draw international readerships in the hundreds of thousands. But unlike their newsstand competitors, these publications exist exclusively online, updating weekly or even daily, and offering a sense of community that conventional monthlies cannot replicate. What they lack in tactile attraction, they make up for with a multimedia experience encompassing still photography, music, videos, blogs and message boards teeming with opinionated commentary. And if they are not about to slice into the profits of an Elle or a Vogue any time soon, the stars of the genre are luring advertisers, too.