Is this an advert? Regulation and us

At Permanent Style we have always been clear that we do not take cash for any content, are not involved in any affiliate marketing, and do not include paid-for links in articles.

This is in stark contrast to the majority of luxury magazines and online influencers. The former regularly include coverage as part of their advertising arrangements, while the latter make most of their money through such paid content.

Instead, Permanent Style is funded through display advertising and selling our own products, like a regular shop. Both seem more straightforward and transparent to us, and readers seem to agree, saying they both understand and appreciate the difference. They always know what they are getting.

As ‘Fabrizio’ commented recently on the site in response to this information: “I don’t want to sound condescending, but your explanation and the way you conduct your business, along with your knowledge, makes you the best and, certainly, the most honest internet style expert. I just needed...confirmation of what I already suspected.”

A couple of examples might be illustrative. First, an email received from a denim brand, asking “what your rates are for posts and for social”. When told that this is something we don’t do on principle, the reply was “well, that’s certainly unusual, but thanks for letting us know”. We receive a few emails of this type every week.

Second, a Japanese car company that wants to celebrate Japanese craft by getting writers to produce articles on menswear craft companies. Nothing wrong with that. This is something Simon might do for the car company, to run purely on their website, as a normal piece of freelance writing. However, they also require the content to appear on Permanent Style and its channels. As a result, it was turned down.

The regulation

Because we do not take paid content in this manner - where a brand both pays for coverage and is involved in what that content should be or how it should be published - the UK CAP code and guidance from the ASA do not apply. They are concerned with magazines or influencers taking payment in this way and not disclosing it to their followers.

The only area where that regulation applies is where we are writing about our own products or events. In that case, we always try to make this clear, by saying they are available to buy on the shop, for example.

Separately, consumer protection legislation enforced by the CMA does apply. This requires disclosure of any payment, in cash, kind or perk. It includes free products but also any discount, no matter how small. As staff on Permanent Style often receive press discounts, and sometimes products for free - like any mainstream magazine - we wish to make that clear and declare it here. Given the number of things that are discounted, readers should assume that any product covered is effectively a payment in kind under these rules.

However, this is not the same as paid content, as described above and defined by the ASA - because there is no ‘control’ over what is produced. Regulators liken it to a TV programme being sponsored - with an advert by that sponsor at the beginning and end. SEAT might sponsor a crime drama on Channel 4, but there are very clear rules around them having no other involvement in the programme. 

Indeed, any regular Permanent Style reader will be aware that discounts and free products make no difference to the content. If anything, reviews of free products might be harsher on average than others paid for or with press discounts. (P Johnson being the best-known example.)

Brands that advertise also receive no more or less coverage than others (a particular problem with traditional magazines). As one reader commented during an online discussion of this point “a merely cursory glance makes it clear that some advertisers receive a lot of coverage, some get none, and non-advertisers also get a lot”.

To be honest, we think that if this wasn’t the case then Permanent Style wouldn’t survive for long. There are lots of other places to go online, and its loyal following would slowly ebb away. But by saying that the CAP code does not apply to our content, we are also making a clear declaration that this is the case.

For more on how this policy is publicly declared to readers, see this post: 'Are you for sale?'

Work for brands

We also think it is important to declare here all other commercial relationships that Permanent Style, or founder Simon Crompton, has with individuals or brands.

Simon has been a freelance writer for many years and writes for publications such as Robb Report, The Rake and How To Spend It. He has also written articles for brands, for their own websites. For several years he ran the in-house blog at Anderson & Sheppard, for example. The only brand he currently writes for in this way is Drake’s. There is no guarantee that these articles will also be promoted through Permanent Style channels.

Simon also occasionally works with brands to give them advice on their website, their marketing or their product. The only company he is currently doing this with is tailor Whitcomb & Shaftesbury, where he is giving them advice on redesigning their website.

Other relationships are (this should be exhaustive):

  • Video sponsorship. Generally where a film is shown in partnership with a brand, such as this video on suede care with Valstar, the brand has covered the costs of making the film - but still does not have control over what the video contains.
  • Pop-up shops. When Permanent Style runs pop-up shops selling its products and those of other brands, the brands have paid a fixed and a variable fee to appear, largely to cover the costs of running the shop.
  • Symposia and other events. For events like the Symposium talks held around the world, the brands sponsoring the event have also normally paid the costs of holding the event, including Simon's costs (travel, accommodation etc).

This page will be updated as similar relationships are established, or end.

If you have questions about any of these points, please contact us. We are consistently trying to make this area clearer. Email Simon at Simon@PermanentStyle.com.