Good Fashion Bloggers Offer Their Audience Something That Traditional Fashion Media Cannot. Essay Example
Fashion is a concept as old as the civilization itself. If earlier fashion could remain the same for thousands of years, over the past couple of centuries the pace of its cardinal changes have significantly accelerated. Nowadays, trends change every season, and they spread all over the world with the speed of the Internet. Over the last decades fashion has been democratized, and the main reason for that is the emergence of different gadgets, that made the rapid exchange of the information possible. And such a rapid exchange is carried out by fashion bloggers, people without any professional background in the field, however with the great desire to have some influence and to be listened to. Fashion bloggers offer their audience something that traditional fashion media cannot—advice from a dilettante, who only aspires to win over gurus of the fashion world with blatant looks.
«The computerization of culture not only leads to the emergence of new cultural forms such as computer games and virtual worlds; it redefines existing ones such as photography and cinema.» (Manovich, 2001) These changes have also affected the fashion world in various possible ways. With the first issue of the Godey's Lady's Book in 1830 information about fashion began to spread through the print media. In 1950s there was television and, along with it, the chance and ability to watch the catwalks from the couch, without leaving the house. Starting from 1980s the MTV channel has brought fashion to the high level of being a culture’s key component. And, finally, the Internet with its capabilities of global access, and the speed of search allowed millions of users to walk around the streets of Paris, Milan and Tokyo observing the fashion trends, without even leaving their work desks.
In the era of print media and TV the only people who decided whether or not the dress is good, and should the mankind wear it or not were the fashion critics. It was a small group of people, specially trained, quite honest with a keen eye and tongue. These days no one cares about them. That is, they still write, very biting and accurately, but they do not get the appropriate attention. If earlier, only professional journalists from the print media could write about fashion, Internet allowed a lot of people without appropriate education to write about fashion and style. And it is understood why—these days many people prefer watching and reading free information they can access online, rather than going out and buying a magazine. In this regard the new profession in the fashion world has appeared—a fashion blogger. Fashion blogger is a person, who writes article about style and fashion, finds videos from the fashion shows, and published pictures with different looks or set of clothes on his personal website (called blog). This profession can be looked at as a mixture of image maker, journalist and fashion photographer in one person. Ideally, no one tells a blogger what to write, and how to write it. His blog is a kind of mini fashion magazine, where the author is the editor-in-chief, a photographer and a journalist. The concept of blogging foresees that the blogger works independently for himself, without any fees or salaries. However, there is a couple of ways to receive profit from such work. The first option is to receive payment from advertising on the blog. However, this works only for very successful bloggers with thousands of subscribers. The other option for a blogger to receive some money compensation for writing is to position his blog as a place to find customers. Such a blog allows to advertise its author as a stylist, personal shopper and image maker. And after its readers find out that the author of the blog is competent enough, they could ask for service or advice in a real life. Therefore, the overall concept of blogging is quite helpful and promising. It allows people to share their experience, thoughts and visions with the others, and the subscribers as well as the blogger benefit from such an activity.
When bloggers just appeared, the difference among them and professional editors was quite obvious. Editors could be compared to well-fed pet, whereas a blogger looked more like a wild wolf, who had to run around looking for food. Another difference is in their ability to criticize. Editors, working in publishing houses, whose welfare depends mostly on advertisement, cannot afford to openly criticize the fashion gurus. Even if there was something wrong with the Chanel or Louis Vuitton collection, editors have to keep their critics to themselves, otherwise there is a big risk to lose an invitation to the show, or even to lose job. Very rarely fashion critics allow themselves to be straightforward. Even best of the best have mastered the fine science of criticizing, without criticizing. Those, who are more uncompromising, from time to time are involved in different scandals, with various degree of ugliness. For example, a couple of years ago Cathy Horyn, the critic at The New York Times, did not receive an invitation to Saint Laurent Paris spring-summer show. (Chilvers, 2012)
Independent, young, with unclouded minds, with a sharp eye —bloggers can say everything they want, criticize the decaying fashion industry. In order to do that they are even provided the sits in the front raws at various fashion shows. And everything would have been great, if the fashion bloggers were as honest and independent as they seem to be. However, unfortunately nowadays things are a little different. They say that fashion bloggers «killed» the critics, and at some point the argument is true. «Just like video killed the radio star, film killed vaudeville, and television killed bowling leagues, so did blogs allegedly kill journalism and mainstream media, replacing these with idiots and amateurs who failed to check their facts and ranted about their pet issues (as well as issues with their pets).»(Dean, 2010) As it was mentioned previously, common people tend to listen to someone like them, and the professional critics, who publish their thoughts and opinions in magazines are not popular these days. But the problem is that the bloggers do not have the required education, which professional critics have. And it is not so much about the vocabulary, as about the professional ethics. In order to win over the preference of the most influential people in the fashion world, bloggers are willing to do almost everything. Initially for gifts, then for bigger and bigger sums of money, the fashion girls with iPhones publish everything brands offer them. «Blogs provided access to information about customers’ likes and dislikes, trends and buzz previously available only in the survey snapshots of pollsters. By starting their own blogs, hiring bloggers, and participating in discussions related to their products, companies could market in another mode.» (Manovich, 2001) And the subscribers get the advertising channel, instead of receiving the horn of truth. «Distancing themselves from the traditional concept of blogging as an impartial activity, they're realizing there is money to be made through advertising, sponsored content and even, in some cases, becoming the face of a brand.» (Cochrane, 2012) From the moment the blogger agrees to post the information received directly from particular brand he is no longer offering his audience something that traditional media cannot. Moreover, while being the same promotion channel as the traditional advertising, the blogger is not being honest with his audience, which is the worst part of such a situation. Consequently, in most cases the subscribers are being fooled. The only way to make things right, while earning money from blogging is to distinguishably divide the sponsored content and the blogger’s personal visions and aspects.
Lots of people, especially those involved in fashion professionally, find the phenomenon of a fashion, or also called beauty blogging useless. There is also a thought that blogger is a kind on new effective marketing element. People who think so, claim that advertising, in which long-legged models with their languid eyes tell us about the product they represent does not work as efficiently, as the ordinary girl, who has a good taste in clothes and can easily convey the same message to her readers. The supporters of the fashion bloggers say that bloggers can tell about the product in a simple way, without the extensive frills, sharing their experiences and sincere opinion to everyone, who wants to save money without cutting back on quality at the same time. That is true. Bloggers are like the word of mouth, and with their help more information is spread among the common middle class people than with the help of banners and TV shows. Considering the fact that people tend to spend more time on the Internet than watching TV, blogs are in some way a new media, a very powerful information channel. Moreover, while reading blogs, there is no need to analyze the pictures, new collections and the catwalks, everything has been already done by the blogger, the only thing the reader has to do is to find the blogger whose taste and style he likes the most. And then just take the advice, and try on the new look. There is only one «but». «Many bloggers are — or were — perceptive and succinct in their comments. But with the aim now to receive trophy gifts and paid-for trips to the next round of shows, only the rarest of bloggers could be seen as a critic in its original meaning of a visual and cultural arbiter.» (Menkes, 2013)
Bloggers a big part of the high fashion establishment. However, the rise was too quick. Being a fashion critic, and reposting from shows is a tremendously hard work, which also requires knowledge in various fields. Also, it is very complicated to work when there is no boss, and no deadlines. Also, every blogger cannot be a good fashion critic. It is simply impossible. Probably, that is the reason why the vast majority of fashion blogs consists of pictures. And if the shots are original, taken by the blogger himself — it is a big success, as most of the time images are simply taken from the style.com or Vogue websites. Sometimes the picture has small text under it, something like «Oh, Dior, You are doing it again!», and that is the only description and critic the reader gets. As for the real reports, reviews and interviews — they are almost impossible to find in blogs, maybe in just a couple of them, like in the Susie Bubble’s blog, being written by a very competent and uncompromising journalist.
Usually fashion blogs start as hobbies, and at that point they really offer their subscribers something, that fashion media cannot — personal approach, valuable advise, and interesting information, describing the latest fashion trends. And as long as fashion blogs stay online, and are being written for the good of the blogger himself, and to help the common people to get to know the fashion world better, they are not harmful for anyone. However, every blogger aspires to earn money from blogging, and does everything possible to make his blog popular and profitable. Of course, there is nothing wrong with earning money from blogging, as long as the blog becomes an instrument for earning money and popularity, the blogger is no longer concerned about the content he publishes. When it happens, the subscribers no longer receive the information they came for, on the contrary, they are just being fed with another portion of advertising, served a little differently. As a result, such bloggers as Bryanboy become one of the central figures of the fashion world, having no education, taste or potential. It is not a secret that epatage is the shortest way to popularity, however, in my opinion fashion world is not the right place for it. The right to make decisions, and to form trends should be left to the knowledgeable critics, as it used to be a decade ago.
Susie Bubble, photographed by Phil Oh for & Other Stories
Photo: Venturelli/WireImage for Fendi/WireImage for Fendi
List of Illustrations
& Other Stories, (n.d.). [image] Available at: http://www.sleek-mag.com/fashion-2/2014/04/other-stories-styled-by-susie-bubble/ [Accessed 8 Feb. 2015].
Fendi, (n.d.). [image] Available at: http://nymag.com/thecut/2012/07/bryanboy-on-top-model-i-threw-a-paper.html [Accessed 7 Feb. 2015].
Chilvers, S. (2012). Hedi Slimane v Cathy Horyn: the story behind a fashion spat. [online] the Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/fashion-blog/2012/oct/03/hedi-slimane-cathy-horyn-fashion-spat [Accessed 8 Feb. 2015].
Cochrane, L. (2012). How fashion bloggers are cashing in. [online] the Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/fashion-blog/2012/oct/29/fashion-bloggers-cashing-in [Accessed 8 Feb. 2015].
Dean, J. (2010). Blog Theory Feedback and Capture in the Circuits of Drive. 1st ed. [ebook] Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. Available at: http://jdeanicite.typepad.com/files/dean--blog-theory.pdf [Accessed 6 Feb. 2015].
Manovich, L. (2001). The Language of New Media. 1st ed. [ebook] Available at: http://dss-edit.com/plu/Manovich-Lev_The_Language_of_the_New_Media.pdf [Accessed 6 Feb. 2015].
Menkes, S. (2013). The Circus of Fashion. [online] T Magazine. Available at: http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/10/the-circus-of-fashion/?_r=0 [Accessed 8 Feb. 2015].
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