Discontent with the internet’s children, bloggers, in fashion has been growing over a couple of seasons now and it has kind of reached boiling point with the publishing of Suzy Menkes’ witty and intelligent article, The Circus of Fashion (please read). It describes the new ‘in’ (or out from Ms. Menkes’ point of view) crowd of fashion, that the picture I have used epitomises and all bedroom bloggers now aspire to as it’s all we see. Some established and up and comers, called out quite unfavourably by Ms. Menkes, have explored their own opinions on the article from, Leandra Medine’s ‘Blog is a dirty word’ to Susanna Lau’s ‘The Sad Clown’. Here are mine.
She is right, as Suzy always is, that the fanfare has become a distraction to the actual shows, but I (as a blogger, aspiring to be [something in fashion]) feel that its also an addition making fashion more enjoyable for the masses and also attracting economic growth in the industry, and in the bloggers themselves.
But the ‘fashion pros’ don’t want everyone to jump on the bandwagon. As Ms. Menkes’ says “if fashion is for everyone, it is fashion?” I’m not sure if that is her personal view but take it to be more the consensus of fashion editors and established journalists. Replace fashion with luxury, then I’d say no but similar to luxury, the fashion industry still needs exclusivity to promote desirability and get someone to part with their cash. They for one see it as work and rightfully so; it is strenuous seeing 10+ shows, working 12 hrs a day, rushing through foreign cities for a month straight. It’s almost like a competition of who can survive fashion week. And I don’t think they think that bedroom bloggers can. Some feel the harsh realities of this, like Ophelia Horton in ‘The pretty lies, the ugly truth’.
Sadly and angrily, from what I read on the blog circuit, I also think that they actively instill the idea that its ‘too hard’ by being mean and off hand with bloggers to make us feel unworthy by being part of the ‘circus’. They don’t have to but it is almost to counteract the supposed easiness of blogging. OK , bloggers will find their route to the fashion world easier as they don’t have to deal with unpaid interning (read: getting coffee for an over stressed editor) and the wrangling that comes after to get into a respected post; but our path is no less serendipitous than the most successful people’s in fashion, with a tweet here (note Suzy Menkes never tweets), a Tumblr mention there and a rare famous follower (usually Nicola Formichetti) collaborating and championing a blog. There was never any set path to get into the fashion industry, even before the internet, so I think its hypocritical that the upper echelons of the fashion world criticise the new cohort for showing their faces at, or mostly outside shows to be create a buzz for themselves. A path in fashion is as winding as Miuccia Prada’s collections and this is just a new one.I agree that it may lessen the original concept of ‘street’ style but that’s another post worth of views.
Aside from this, the circus gives me inspiration as I see people doing something for themselves, and as Mrs. Medine says “Many of us couldn’t land the jobs we wanted, so we just made our own.” Whether it be the fashpaps or those who are being photographed, they are getting out there much more in real-world terms than us bedroom bloggers. Others may view it as the democritisation of fashion, and they don’t mean that in a good way by reducing the exclusivity of fashion but it is good. It gives more discussion on the clothes that everyone wear and spotlights irreverent styles never before seen or known by the black crows of the 80’s and 90’s fashion crowd, many of whom are still around today (Suzy being one of them).
The fashion pros don’t realise what hard work it is to keep up a good quality blog that has dedicated followers and original content, when so much is put on the internet, and almost all information comes second hand. Their definition of work also includes getting paid, something some bloggers with high traffic but low income might laugh at. It is rare that blogs become so successful as to get advertisers to pay them or be contacted for affiliate marketing. I agree and I am angry that blogging’s (slowly depleting) authenticity and excitement being jeopardised by companies and its own self. Uniqueness is still central to make name in the world of fashion blogging but when bloggers become successful e.g. going to shows, get money, recognition by press and designers, GOING TO SHOWS, what I call the ‘capitalisation of expression’ occurs. Bryanboy actively embraced this, getting shitloads of free stuff and a bag named after him by Marc Jacobs (I don’t blame Marc, as to his brand it is a new type of advertising to further their business). I stopped reading his blog years ago when I got sick of blatant narcissism, the push of ‘LOOK AT ME NOW’ blogging that he was so kind enough to reduce fashion blogging to and eventually tarnishing its reputation as a whole (OK, with others along the way). Suzy says of this:
Now that women and men (think of the über-stylish Filipino blogger Bryanboy, whose real name is Bryan Grey Yambao) are used to promote the brands that have been wily enough to align themselves with people power, even those with so-called street style have lost their individuality.
The ‘self-aggrandizement’ is a double edged sword. On one side, the Bryanboys who revel in their self-indulgence and exaggerate their importance, and the other bloggers who are doing it to make a name for themselves and enhance their importance, like stylebubble, with integrity. Though its still ‘self-aggrandizement’. What about editors? Carine Roitfield (porno-chic), Anna Wintour (the bob and bug eyed sunglasses) and Andre Leon Talley (ALT 365). They’ve got signature looks and subjects of work too, but there is no mention of them and ‘self-aggrandizement’ in the same sentence or even the whole article. The huge thing that Suzy Menkes’ article unwittingly embodies are the double standards that now exists in fashion between digital and analogue.
Though, what I think that they most bothered about is a blogger’s freedom: that we can do what we want, whenever we want, however we want with whom ever we want. It makes some jealous, some embrace but also makes everything open to criticism, as they view us collectively and think “every blogger types with the same keyboard”. So, while some are just not good (Bryanboy) and others are excellent (MR), both receive great success. There’s the dilemma. How can the pros respect blogging as a valid part to the fashion industry when professionalism and intelligence are not strictly needed to get many followers/success? The worst is focused on (like in everything) and blog becomes a dirty word.
I feel it. When I say that I’m going to write, instead of blog. I am writing, using words to create a piece, but that I post it on the internet (ignore the fact I am a teenager), instead of in a magazine or print, make it any lower in quality. Bloggers try to hide our inferior feelings by referring to them as ‘online magazines’. Bullshit! It’s still a blog. YOU WRITE ON THE INTERNET. Or should we now call all blogs, online magazines? No. It festers the notion that anything and everything on the internet will never be as good as what printed on paper and that the ideas featured in a blog must come from a print magazine. But why? Don’t people trying to ‘make it’ produce their best work because they are doing it to afford to clothes they see in Opening Ceremony and on Fancy ( that’s probably just me) or the ideal lifestyle of those fashion creatives (work that doesn’t feel like work, parties, free clothes, lots of clothes, front row shows, designer friends, MONEY)? Journalists write their articles on a computer before putting it into magazine editing software to print. The most interesting and refreshing blogs and magazines usually crossover in terms of art direction and content, and in some cases the blogs are better, introducing different ways to present information as GIFs, videos and audio. Bloggers alike need to stop with differences, and look more at the similarities, but not try to impersonate a magazine that has in excess of 50 people contributing to its creation. If they want to ditch the term ‘blog’, then online publication seems fair. Online. Publishing.
Print and internet are meant for different types of readers but by finding the correlations, I think the divide will lessen. For example, contrary to this whole paragraph, I love magazines, as well as being a blogaholic (reading them that is…). There is something that holding (in my hands) a well edited, written and art directed publication that blogs cannot replicate. The paper. There is no reason why blogs cannot be well edited, written and looking great, The Man Repeller embodies this, and respected. There is too much at our disposal and a double standard which we must change.
The attainment of the ‘ideal lifestyle’, I mentioned may be what is driving us to the inferiority complex of blogging because many, who have achieved the criteria, and there are very few of them might I add and realise for my own sake, have worked/are working/are going to work at a well respected fashion magazine. But I just think its a way; not the way. Buyers, designers, stylists, bloggers (!!), all can have relative success. The common denominator with those who achieve anywhere in anything seems to be innovation and ingenuity.
Something I strongly agree on with Ms. Menkes and see in myself; education or experience is needed to provide a full understanding of what me, the blogger/writer, has written . Education in terms of the history of the subject, e.g. art/fashion/designer/cultural history are all important in fashion journalism. I try to provide the fullest account I can with the information I can research every time I write a piece but I know this is not true of all bloggers, who may focus too much on the looks rather than what’s behind it ( I just think to myself, get on tumblr!). A degree at university, CSM/LCF, or at A-Level may be what Suzy wants before people can truly call themselves fashion journalists, aficionados or bloggers. She is right, because what is the present without the past? I am hindered I guess by the absence of distillation of information provided by a course but I will just have to distill the internet, and fashion books I have yet to buy, myself. On experience, this requirement is a bit extraneous in need as what constitutes that needed to be successful in the fashion industry? Connections are needed, though, as mentioned before, can be elicited through many means both digital and traditional. ‘Age ain’t nothing but a number’, and too young minds usually produce the best, new ideas in fashion. Not all bloggers have the same view as me, discounting university too as traditional and so not needed, and this is what she may be so vehemently disagreeing.
More egotistical on the part of editors as a whole, who have enjoyed a sort of fashion dictatorship enforced by them for umpteen generations, I feel they are annoyed (they still get paid so won’t get into too much of a huff to get truly angry or sad, until it noticeably affects them) that bloggers, designers and photographers do not take as much influence from pros who have ranks, magazines and hold themselves in high regard, but more from our own community. But are they to blame, for acting to big for their boots. I know when most get to a certain point in their career, they never look back and find what they did, e.g. what people are now doing, laughable. So they laugh and denounce. Suzy does not do this in the article but for bloggers this happens at the shows; what else are we supposed to do when many reviewers now comment on their circus tribulations, “shows outside shows” “fanning out their plumage in the hope, it would seem, that a bit of canny self-packaging will secure them a place in fashion’s front ranks”, but become encased in our own bubble and shun those who demean our craft?
The best magazines are bucking the trend and appointing digital savvy directors as they now that fashion will only get even more inextricably linked with the internet in the future, and it is only self destruction to fool themselves into thinking analogue is the only best way. Dazed & Confused, admittedly quite a biased choice as it focuses on youth culture but a respected magazine nevertheless, recently appointed Robbie Spencer, himself a blogaholic and said to have ‘ease navigating the worlds of print and digital’ , as Fashion Director of the magazine. I think Jefferson Hack got it right as he always does, saying in the press statement; “As a digital native, Robbie will also engineer unique synergies between print and digital platforms reinforcing Dazed Group as one of the UK’s most digital forward content platforms for fashion and style”. Synergy. Leads to greatness. Combining the best parts of two is the way to go. Nick Knight is one of best photographers alive and has always experimented with the newest technology in creative ways. He is progressive, and is one of my favourite photographers for that fact.
People say that Vogue, especially the UK edition, is so outdated now as there is not enough of this to entice younger readers to the magazine. When I read articles about the magazines that inspired the most important bloggers and journalists in fashion today, names like i-D and the Face keep on popping up and I think I know why. They were fresh, new and unexpected. And blogs are just that. Even though there may be varying qualities, too much is focused on the negatives that are associated with blog, but not the real world success stories and valid addition to fashion that digital is and can be. Professionalism is something that needs to be worked on, but what is professional in a new profession? Miss. Lau suggested not stopping for fashpaps, but then how will the readership of her blog, and main source of income, increase? She does, and so the editors don’t respect her for what’s construed self-promoting, which she needs to work in fashion industry. She feels sad and is caught in a catch 22. I respect her more because she has the balls to go cray but in a stylish way. I think of stylebubble as more intelligent, not less. I am angry at her sadness because it is the fault of those who are supposed to nurture new talent at shows and at least respect what’s shown. Frankly, it is a joke that at fashion week, the most daring people, a challenge that is needed for stimulation of the fashion industry, are being pushed aside and made to feel inferior. The upper echelons are too blind to see the new talent in front of them.
Later posts will elaborate on the more stylistic criticisms discussed in the article, and will hopefully be shorter to write and read!