Dolly Jones is my ‘Woman of Substance’ this month. Promoted last year from Editor of vogue.co.uk to Digital Strategy Director of Conde Nast Digital, Dolly is one of the most experienced people in digital fashion.
Born in Omagh, County Tyrone, she was brought up in Hampshire, studied Journalism at University of the Arts, London and got her first job at Vogue magazine in 2000 – her mother having worked there briefly before Dolly was born. She became Editor of vogue.co.uk five years later and in 2006 the site won the British Society of Magazine Editors’ website of the year award.
She lives in London with her husband and two young children.
Dolly, you have experienced huge changes in the world of digital media since you started at vogue.co.uk 16 years ago. What milestones stand out as the fashion industry gradually accepted and came to celebrate digital coverage of their collections?
When I started trying to generate news content for the site, designers and their agents would barely answer the phone, let alone give us quotes - the idea that they would offer us a seat at a fashion show was out of the question. Vogue was one thing - Vogue digital was entirely another and much, much less appealing to them. Gradually we were invited to shows, then for preview appointments, then seated in the front row and eventually sometimes even asked to wear their clothes in the hope that it would encourage us to turn up and report on them. The digital revolution meant it developed from an intimidating, potentially brand-damaging unknown into the lifeblood of a business. It’s been incredible to watch - and it’s still happening. Social media did a lot to speed up the process as businesses realised how close they could be to their consumer by engaging in the right way.
You’re famous for your creative approach, what inspires you?
Thank you! I think I’m inspired by the endless possibilities of digital. It can tell us exactly what an audience wants, allow us to fuel the response with unique creative ideas and in turn find an entirely new audience. It’s constantly evolving and therefore there is so much to learn and experiment with.
What do you love most about your job?
The variety. The Conde Nast titles are so varied but all have such authority, quality and style as central to their remit and they are held in such high regard by their audiences - it’s a privilege to work among so many people who love their jobs.
Do you ever take a break from social media on holiday or is that not possible, given your role?
I think it does everybody good to take a break from it. However I can’t pretend I’m that good at switching off for long.
We see the faces of the fashion industry in the front rows of the Fashion Week shows – with phones in hand taking photos and videos of the models. The new collections are online within seconds now. How has this affected how you work?
We have evolved in so many ways as audience behaviour has developed; from desktop to mobile; from news reporting to social media; from catwalk shows a season ahead to instantly available ecommerce. Once we were the only site offering fashion news; when our competition started playing catch up we had to do it faster and better by understanding the potential of our digital products. As mobile has overtaken the digital attention span, we have updated our sites to be mobile first. Working in digital is a constantly changing narrative - to be authoritative we have to be aware of what’s changing and how it will affect the habits of our audience.
You live and work in London – what do you love most about our capital city?
Again, the variety. It allows us to bring up our children in Barnes - which means we enjoy the river, the pond, Richmond Park, and gentle family life - but we’re only a bus ride away from all the action of the centre.
Having a young family and a demanding job that involves international travel is always a juggling challenge. How do you manage it all?
By breathing deeply and trying to keep things in perspective. I’m really lucky to have a wonderful family and a job that I love, so when stress takes hold - which it does sometimes - it helps to focus on that. And it’s important to have the practicalities covered, obviously - I spend a lot of my weekends organising our family life so we have everything covered.
I know you are a fan of Winser London - which pieces from our new Autumn collection do you have your eye on?
I am indeed a fan of Winser London - for high quality, reliable luxury. I have a couple of the Audrey cashmere jumpers which I love - but I’m also eyeing the casual luxe deep V necks for autumn, as well as the tweed jacket and the soft cashmere coat.