Fashion Bloggers Take Over

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For my Fashion Journalism class at the Fashion Institute of Technology, our final project was to write an article on a topic of our choice. I chose bloggers and their effect on the fashion industry, and I wanted to share the article with you guys.

Fashion Bloggers Take Over
May 11, 2013
By Emma Havighorst
Fashion bloggers open up what was, for decades, an exclusive industry.


Bloggers: (from left to right) Rumi Neely, Garance Dore, Derek Blasberg

Bloggers have become a staple to the fashion industry these past few years through their original ideas and the growing amount of influence that they have over the public. From getting those sought-after front row seats at shows to having millions of unique page views every day, bloggers are making a name for themselves in an industry that still isn’t sure what to do with them.
            Fashion bloggers open up the industry to outsiders; they show what happens inside those closed off rooms where the future of the fashion industry is discussed. In the article In Fashion Are Trends Passé? written by Ruth La Ferla for The New York Times, the author quotes Robert Burke, a consultant for luxury brands and previous fashion directory of Bergdorf Goodman's. He was quoted saying, "As little as a decade ago, we would gather at the Ritz in Paris to come up with trend stories, which would then be translated into shop windows and advertising. Forty or fifty of us held the keys to that secret information." (In Fashion, Are Trends Passe? 1).  Not long ago, those of us not in that room in the Ritz only knew the trends because they were in the windows as decided. We knew nothing of what happened, or how these things were decided. Then came the phenomenon of blogging, and the stars rose out of the crowd. Bryan Grey Yambao of Bryanboy, Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist, Susanna Lau of Susie Bubble, and Rumi Neely of Fashiontoast are among these so called “blogging celebrities”.
            These bloggers have growing amount of influence over the fashion choices of the public. By 2010, blogging was a $27.3 billion dollar industry for advertising revenue. Clearly, blogs can affect consumers, and persuade people to buy certain items. Colleen Sherin, the fashion market director for Saks Fifth Avenue acknowledges this, saying, “We do pay attention to it [the style of bloggers]… It’s important to be aware what they are blogging about and what is inspiring them. Some of the things we might have been seeing on the street are perhaps now brought to us by the internet.” This is applicable for fashion week coverage as well. In 2010, online media coverage of fashion week increased 20% in just six months before the next set of fashion weeks occurred. For Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in September of 2010, 40% of the 3600 people officially registered by IMG as press were bloggers. That rate has been steadily increasing every year since.
            In fact, many people credit the enormous influence blogging has on the public to their direct way of approaching the consumer. With this more personal form of journalism developing, the public feels more involved and included in the industry that they support with every item of clothes they buy. Christopher Bailey, the Creative Director at Burberry, was one of the first to support the standout bloggers, saying, “It’s important that the bloggers have become well respected. They have a very articulate way of expressing an opinion. The difference between bloggers and traditional press is that [bloggers] are often talking directly to a final consumer.” Clearly this direct approach resonates with the aforementioned consumers, because many of the top blogs get hundreds of thousands of page views every day. The blog Bryanboy, by Bryan Grey Yambao, gets over 215,000 views each day. The Sartorialist by Scott Schuman gets over 225,000 views each day. The front-runners in the blogging world have many viewers, showing that the public reads what they write and comes back for more regularly.
Amy Fine Collins and Eric Wilson in
front row of Christian Siriano Fall '13
© Patrick McMullan
            Most recently, these bloggers have been seen in the front rows of the top designer’s fashion shows. Just this past season, the front rows were lined with celebrities and bloggers instead of editors and buyers. Such was the case with the Christian Siriano Fall/Winter 2013 RTW show, which had the likes of Shailene Woodley (actress), Eric Wilson (New York Times journalist), Amy Fine Collins (correspondent for Vanity Fair), and many more. The blogging industry has a newly found command over the fashion industry; many of these bloggers have the ability to make or break a new designer, just as Cathy Horyn and Suzy Menkes can. To get up to that level, one must climb up the hierarchical ladder of fashion journalism.

              The fashion industry has always maintained a hierarchy of relative importance in every group of people, from the public relations to the designers to the journalists. Before blogs were invented, print journalism was the only serious form available to the public. It was through these print magazines and newspapers that the strongest journalists became among the most revered critics in the industry. Once bloggers hit the scene the set-in-stone hierarchy had to adjust. Susanna Lau, of Susie Bubble, acknowledges this, saying “there are a handful of bloggers that should be at shoes, but the front row is a different matter altogether. I feel like you need to earn your place.” This is the case with many bloggers. They are grateful for the opportunities they have had to find their place in the fashion industry, but at the same time, a bit nervous to push their luck. Going against the grain, photographer and blogger Scott Schuman feels differently: “Previously fashion had been so hierarchical. Bloggers show the average person that they too can be a part of it- that this is was it’s really like.”
            In the minds of the fashion industry, this is what it comes down to. Bloggers can connect with their audience; the public feels like they are included in the industry and that they really can see what goes on behind the scenes. The inclusion of the public is crucial to this industry, and bloggers give the people just what they are looking for.


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