Over the past few weeks there’s been a lot of talk and commentary about fashion bloggers. I’m sure you read the Suzy Menkes article that talked about bloggers at Fashion Week along with well thought out and insightful responses from the likes of B from Beautifully Invisible and Leandra from Man Repeller. At first I wasn’t going to offer up my thoughts on the subject because many bloggers expressed a lot of the same things I was feeling so I didn’t think it was necessary. Then I read this blog post from Profesh Style a few days ago and realized I still had some things to get off my chest.
Three and half years ago I started my blog as a way to get back to my writing. About a year or so in, I was amazed at the community – the creativity and passion for beauty and fashion from all points of the style spectrum to the much needed discussions on the disconnect between the fashion industry and the real world consumer. If a brand said or did something sideways, we took to Twitter and 9 times out of 10 that brand did an about face. We as a collective had a power of influence and it was amazing because it finally felt like we, the consumers, were being heard. I loved the wealth of different style perspectives and it felt like we were all navigating this new media world together. There were always the big name bloggers who paved the way for us but I felt there wasn’t any major pressure to be like them. We had our own voices and enjoyed other blogs for being unique or even downright different from ours. We were the ones who had our ears to the streets, the fingers on the pulse because at the end of the day, the ones who were wearing and buying the merchandise from beauty and fashion companies were us.
Soon, those companies were discovering more and more how influential bloggers can be. You had your sponsored posts, gifting of products for review, and blogger programs. I was fortunate enough to work with brands early on and I quickly learned that I still had to maintain my voice and perspective,not be swayed by freebies. It’s important to have a healthy balance of sponsored and non-sponsored content. The next thing you know, you’re seeing bloggers in major magazines and commercials. The explosion of blogging into mainstream was crazy and was very all of a sudden for me. Now it’s the norm and while it’s great to see those bloggers recognized for their hard work, it has changed the very thing that made blogging such a breakthrough and special medium:
The fashion blogger’s identity is being shaped by the industry and not the blogging community
- Most of the bloggers you see on major media fit into the fashion industry model, unrepresentative of all types of women
- Certain niches of blogging gain more recognition (street style photography, daily outfit blogs) as opposed to others that are just as good (the invisible bloggers as B defines it!)
- Fashion blogging is all about image, not the quality of the blog itself
So what happened? Blogging became super sparkly and glittery with commercials, magazine spreads, and instant celebrity. Because of that, the blogging community has become flooded with new bloggers all imitating the big names and expecting to reach big name status. Instead of talking about issues in the fashion industry and learning from one other, it’s all about “Follow me, Look at me, Check out my blog please please please!” A week or so ago I logged into IFB forums and was immediately inundated with requests to follow blogs and check out posts. It was so annoying I immediately logged out. On tThe Facebook Page for FBFF, which was a group I was actively part of, all I see are posts about what’s on someone’s blog or the giveaway they’re hosting. The blogging community has become so self-centered it’s no wonder people like Susan Menke think that all bloggers are just attention seekers. And it’s no wonder that bloggers like myself were outraged at her article. We know we’re more than that. While many of us can take pretty pictures of ourselves, others are wonderful writers, DIY mavens, media and tech genius’s, and artists. But the main stream doesn’t see that and in turn, new bloggers don’t see that.
Where do we go from here?
I firmly believe that the bloggers who are in it for the wrong reasons will not last. Those who have been in the game for awhile know the drive and the passion it takes to create and grow our blogs for the long haul. I think Fashion Weeks will follow London’s lead, as Veschoevius pointed out in her blog post, and close ranks when it comes to blogger access. Many of us have already disengaged from major forums and groups that once fostered the growth of our style community. I think what will help this community get back to what it truly means to be a fashion blogger we need to start educating the newbies on the scene. It needs to go beyond what posts like how to take pretty pictures and the 20 million ways to drive traffic. It’s needs to be about the things seasoned bloggers have learned during the times when blogging wasn’t uber popular such as:
- Success doesn’t happen overnight
- Brands will not come hunting you down (you’ll be disappointed)
- Focus on quality content, putting your best out there every single post
- Learn and choose your social media channels wisely to build your platform
Discussions like these opens the doors. If we want to change the stereotype of the fashion blogger that Menkes talks about, then we as a community have to prove her wrong.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this!