Monday, 28 September 2009

the problem with bloggers

london fashion week came and gone in a swift. i'm actually really tired from all that rushing around between shows, and making small talk with people i hardly knew or with those that shudder when i mentioned that i'm a fashion blogger. and i've only been to a few selected shows, how do the pros do it?

i love fashion, that's the reason why i set up this blog. fashion celebrates individualism and i pride myself for not coming out from the same cookie cutter. but because i am not from print journalism and i operate an online independent operation, i am classed as a blogger. can i be a freelance online writer instead i wonder?

and those who jet set and loan clothes (or gets gifted) to attend shows, those who gets recognised and mobbed on the streets and who happen to have a blog, are not bloggers. they are mini celebrities now, who happen to have a blog.

and then there are online only webzines, whom we know nothing about the authors but they feature a selection of what's cool and hip, sometimes a repost of press releases. they are classed as bloggers too. so the term "bloggers" really do cut pretty widely.

several fashion houses have gradually warmed up to the idea of "bloggers". i'm not exactly complaining, i get invited to shows which i never dream of being able to do so a year ago. it's new territory and we all tread carefully, bloggers and fashion houses alike. it's almost like free publicity if i come back and blog about an event that i've been to. but the downside is that the fashion houses have little control over what is the end product on the blogs. the wrong association could be damaging.

emma watson and gwyneth paltrow at burberry prorsum spring summer 2010 / getty images

of course i find it exciting to be at the shows. but i want to be a respected member of press, not a fan. to get recognition or control the onus of censorship lies within the blogger itself. "should i really post that unflattering picture of that designer/celebrity, yea i'll do it anyway as people will know i'm there and i met so & so!". magazines go through several stages of close examination before it gets published, so any double chins or unflattering pics get airbrushed or removed. the onus of self examination lies with the blogger.

bloggers get a lot of bad press because of the inaccuracy of information on their blogs. phillip lim is often misspelled as philip lim. can you blame him if a request for an invite to his show gets rejected? i raise my hand, i am guilty of that, i recently incorrectly spelled the name of a designer whom i had a giveaway organised recently.

christopher shannon spring summer 2010

at a recent show in milan, a few "bloggers" were sat front row and were given laptops to blog and tweet instantaneously. i witnessed first hand, a few bloggers were on their phones texting non-stop, presumably tweeting. what the fuck?! are we not supposed to enjoy the show, take in the moment and absorb it all? what's with the obsession in letting the world know which is the opening look, and while tweeting we ignored the 2nd and 3rd look? what's with the idea of letting people know we are at the shows/party just because?

seating arrangements within the show gets even more political. at a recent show i saw a blogger sat front row, while editors from a well respected magazine gets bumped to 3rd. and there i was throwing an imaginary hissy fit that i was allocated a standing ticket! ok i did get front row seats for a few shows i went to this year, i am thankful for that. but there's also no reason why the mag editors have to be bumped.

topman design spring summer 2010

credibility is difficult to earn, and i'm not on a crusade to change the opinions of everyone. i'm guilty of some of the things i mentioned anyway. blogging is cited as the next big thing, and like all bubbles it will burst. i am truly thankful for the things i've been able to achieve with this blog but i don't want to be called a blogger because of the sweeping generalisation, but that's like spitting in my soup.

fashion should be fun so we also shouldn't take everything too seriously. ok i'm kinda lost now, but there seemingly is a problem, and i'm raising it.


  1. I really like and I agree with you in some points.
    But I also think that there's a huge problem with the some of the blogger's, some of them are not sure about there own viewpoints and to young to define their own role in this game.
    I decided one day that i will not take any gifts... and I'm totally happy with this decission.

  2. i agree with you..but i think it's hard to really classify bloggers as legitimate writers because i feel like rather than focusing on the subject matter they are talking about, and critically analyzing the pieces of a collection or whatever fashion related event going on (or any event for that matter) bloggers put a really personal aspect into their writing. and rarely go beyond the surface of what we can already see...i've noticed that some bloggers that i like.. they basically all say similar things, but the way they say is it quirky and funny, which makes it appealing to me, but not much analyzing...which might be why the fashion industry is a little hesitant as accepting bloggers into their realm of mainstream reputable media
    i don't know..i could be reading too much into this haha

  3. This commentary was deeply intuitive and respectful. Not only do you recognize the position and influence bloggers have, but you also recognize the careers professionals have charted with their blood, sweat, and applications.

    How very intelligent and on pointe you were. Very fair and balanced. And as an emerging menswear designer, I greatly your respect and opinion in this matter.

    Blus your blog is great. I work as a journalist also. Our format is to deliver the news minus our bias, which is part of the art of what you do, monsieur.

    J. Harlem

  4. Good insight mate.


  5. Blogging is NOT the next big thing. It is the thing now and will be around for a long time. User created content - the phrase we are users too that gets/connects to people. So what if there's mistake here and there? As if magazine doesn't make them.

    Printed materials sad to say is going to be near obsolete in the future but that doesn't mean those editors or whoeever's opinion is not important. Just that it takes way too long for their rag to come out. Blogs or anything online is more instant.

  6. A thoughtful post and you will no doubt get a myriad of responses because it poses interesting questions.

    For me, Fashion blogging has opened up the industry to a whole new generation. For far too long it has seemingly been something that only exists on glossy pages and security alarmed hangers. Blogging has enabled access to a huge number of passionate people and that is no bad thing. That said, I think problems arise when bloggers see blogging as a gateway to other things. Far too many start a blog thinking it will get them a job in the industy and therefore they strive crediblity, fame and fortune. Yes, it might work for some but examples of such are extremely rare given the number of fashion blogs out there.

    As for Fashion houses. They can't have it both ways. If they want to grant access to bloggers in to their world I don't think they have the right to dictate what that blogger posts about. Yes a blogger should edit their post before setting it live but at the end of the day, a blog isn't a magazine. There is a reason why magazine sales have plummeted in recent years and why fashion blogs have risen.

    As for the point about tweeting front row. What is the difference between tweeting and writing notes in a moleskin? Surely it is only one of technology? I've seem so many people look completely disinterested whilst sitting in fashion shows, talking to the person next to them or just looking out blankly in to space. I find that far ruder than someone paying interest in the show and wanting to spread information.

  7. Really insightful post. I've been dwelling on the same issues since arriving back from London. The opportunity to witness the development of LFW menswear was incredible but also had me contemplating the same issues as you are now.

    I agree with Steve on the fashion house front. Blogging has revolutionised fashion journalism in the sense that bloggers are now granted entry to shows and are permitted to speak their mind on the show and the designer's work. Print journalists don't seem as liberated in that the vast majority must write something positive in order to guarantee an invite to that show the following year. Bloggers may change this aspect of fashion journalism for good.

    I'm inclined to agree on the tweeting, from a personal perspective but I think Steve is right in that it is basically the equivalent of taking notes. Still, I know I'd probably be more capable of fully appreciating a designer's work if I just viewed the looks and didn't bother with anything else.


  8. I am a blogger myself and think that blogs help spread the word of products.

    However, magazines are more respected because they are a team of people that have gone through a rigorous hiring process. They have editors, have possibly studied writing and their specialist subject and may have experience in the field.

    Where as a blog is usually written by one person who could be anyone, with any experience.

    I don't wish to be rude about your blog as I am also guilty of this, but just to emphasis the point.. in a post about respect, credibility and writers v bloggers you do not even capitalise 'I' in your post, which is a basic of the English language.

  9. I agree with your opinion about fashion blogs but also with the first comment (Rene Schaller). It's gonna be an interesting discussion...


  10. A really thought-provoking and honest post Joe. Not from just this season, or this year, blogging has seemed to become the 'cool' thing to do, and for some, has been a right of passage into print journalism or there for self gain. I think blogging has taken a bit of a dip at present from last year/year before because of the; amount and people do not get the end result that they want.

    I agree with you, Steve and Cillian about on the fashion house front. Whilst blogging has become an integral part of fashion journalism for the masses, they are thankfully not dictated by PR's or product placement. Whilst journalists like Suzy Menkes can make or break a career within one paragraph, bloggers can speak freely without (hopefully) any repercussions and hope bloggers like us - and you have already with inclusions on The Times - have more of a voice.

    I have to agree that tweeting is the same as taking notes. However, I think there is a degree of a 'news race' where bloggers want to outpost others AND the likes of

    Though I think tweeting from the front row is a bit extreme and more time should be taken to appreciate the collection, the atmosphere and the surroundings. The point of journalism is to communicate to the reader and how can you give a feel for a show - bringing the reader to the show without leaving their computer - when you have one eye on your iphone?

    Lastly, I feel bloggers should be positioned on the 3rd/4th row or standing. I can't really put into words why, but if I were a fashion editor of any caliber on such rows I would never go again.

    Though this argument begs the conclusion; editors and magazines must try harder to engage their readers. If a blogger can bang out a post in an hour, so can they.

  11. Wow, this really opens your eyes to look at things in a new light. I think the problem really is what you touched on...the fear of the unknown and having no control. With a blog, you can say exactly what we think, whereas in a magazine, they're going to need clothes for their next ed or celebs for their next feature. So they can't slip up and go all into dangerous territory. I remember back in the Spring 2009 season, gave Elie Saab a horrid review, then they did it again for his Fall 2009 couture show. Though you wouldn't see it in an actual magazine, it was on the internet for everyone to see.

    I think blogging the thing of the moment right now, because there isn't a fashion magazine that does not also have a blog. But I think there is a lot more that you can get with a blog honestly and that may be the reason behind why more people are turning to a blog. For example, I just got my October Vogue issue a few weeks ago, only now covering an event that happened a while before. I don't want to write you a book, and I think you can see where I stand.

  12. Thank you for your honest and insightful post. I think of blogging as a very specific form of journalism. What makes a blog like yours special is that it is one person's vision and opinion. I don't make negative posts on my blog because I feel there is far too much negativity in the world and I would prefer to keep the tone of my blog positive. If I do not like a collection or bag or look, I simply write about something I do like. My editorial coverage of the recent NYC Men's Spring/Summer shows was very narrow, as I only report on shows that I like.

    Perhaps, the ultimate question to ask a blogger is, "Why do you do this?" Motivation is everything. Is a fashion blog a way to get "inside" fashion shows and parties? Is a fashion blog an opportunity for self expression? For myself, I started, inspired by you and Kevin (MyMANyBags) because I have always been very opinionated about fashion and luxury goods and I wanted a more formal way to write my thoughts and express those opinions. It also serves as a diary of sorts, at least of my purchases and desires.

  13. A commentator or critic has real value when they bring independent and unbiased opinion. It also helps if they are knowledgable and interesting, and have good access.

    Sadly most of the main stream print media are beholden to advertisers. That's why we get the puffing of long (creatively) dead designers and brands just because they are big spenders.

    There is a place for informed, independent comment from people who enjoy fashion, for people who enjoy fashion. The internet is so competitive and accessable, superior and worthwhile comment will endure.

  14. Bloggers are great because they are not reliant on advertising revenue, so have the freedom to say what we want about who we want.

    Magazines and paper and ink will always be relevant even though sales have dropped, I would wager that quality publishing is not suffering. The drop in sales is due to all the crud that used to clog our shelves is now thoroughly thrashed out on blogs before the big media ships can set a course for it.

    Personally i think the front row is overrated but let the journo's and buyers have them because they are working really hard and we are all having a lot of fun.

    As for the future...what do we want to do with it?

    Stonking post once again Joe, I swear LVMH need you.

  15. what exactly may i ask brought on this ...rant (dont know if this is the appropriate word to use) The need to be that 'respected member of press', because other shudder at the thought of a fashion blogger ?

    But the fact is you are not a member of press (or are you..i dont know what you do but i'm a huge fan joe). You are just someone with an opinion. Someone who's got a popular, interesting blog and have serious ideas and thoughts about fashion. And i think that itself is good enough. You dont have to be a member of press to be taken seriously.

    It is new territory but i do think these fashion houses hand pick which bloggers gets invited and these bloggers are fans to begin with. And lets be honest here, most are excited, star struck and in awe to be at these events, so it is biased in a way.

    As for the future? Serious bloggers with huge following will get snap up by magazine etc etc look at Tavi..she's blogging for POP. I mean what would one expect? Those who are really passionate about the industry will always end up in it. Circle...

    I, like have been inspired by you to start a blog..but fu*k me...i cant write for nuts lol!!! SO i'll leave it to the experts like you

  16. I do enjoy the challenge of writing. I have never written a word, professionally, or otherwise until I started my blog.

  17. To be sure that i'll not make mistakes, i'll write in my mother's tongue : French. You can translate it via Yahoo babelfish.

    Ce post est le 4ème que je lis, et qui relève la nouveauté dans la relation bloggers/sphère mode.

    D&G ont certainement fait un gros coup médiatique en mettant des bloggeurs en front row, mais je pense que la relation avec les maisons de couture est étrange depuis le début.

    Entre les petits cadeaux, et les invitations aux soirées privées puis au défilé, le front row n'est que la suite normale.

    Je pense que le blog est une forme de journalisme, et la qualité du blog dépend de son créateur.

    Comme je l'ai dit sur le blog de Garance et de Géraldine, la seule chose à conserver est son indépendance.

    Je ne sais pas si je vous l'ai dit, mais votre blog est vraiment superbe, à la fois intellectuel et furieusement trendsetter.

    Restez le même.

  18. Thank you for this post. It has to be one of the single most interesting and engaging post on a blog I have ever read.

    I have now gotten to a stage were I don't even say I'm a blogger anymore because of the snarls I get from some people I meet. I just say I write for a fashion website.

    I have also noticed that those who know I am a blogger - as they have featured me in their magazine or online media - don't like the fact that I have been invited to shows.

    You can see the disgust in their eyes.

    I can hear them saying "Why are you here?"

    They don't like that fact that in a very short space of time we have gone from being perceived as being a kid in their bedroom blogging about fashion, to some who is taken SERIOUSLY by the fashion industry and in some cases having a greater readership than them.

    So in that case those fashion editors do deserve to be in the 2nd or 3rd row.

    Blogger rule and we will only continue to get bigger.

    The fact that Grazia, Look Magazine, The Daily Mail, Marie Claire and Glamour Magazine all copy my blog, some times word for word just goes to show how influential we really are.

    Thanks again for a great post


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