Tavi Gevinson at Marc Jacobs Fall/Winter 2011 runway show at New York Fashion Week
Photo courtesy of The Wizard of Odd
Inspired by the news that the 16-year-old super blogger Tavi Gevinson quitted because of the disappointment she felt with the fashion game she has played in the past three years previously posted on Hamilton Fashion Blog by an insightful American blogger friend William Hamilton, I strongly feel the need to say a few words about the distorted evolution of the blogosphere. Before fashion bloggers have gradually expanded their sphere of influence to become a major media force less than ten years ago, only the commentaries made by high-fashion magazine editors, well-known fashion journalists and reputable stylists would be taken seriously (yes fashion is always an exclusive game for a small group of people). It was until 2009 when Bryan Boy was first invited to Marc Jacobs Fall/Winter show at New York Fashion Week sitting in the front row as a blogger (not an editor, like Anna Wintour or Anna Dello Russo, or a fashion celeb, like Alexa Chung) that the fashion industry has finally recognized the power of blog writing, unprofessional though it may seem, it has indeed officially overturned the traditional media ecology. Bryan Boy, Rumi Neely, Tavi and other super bloggers get a million hits a month on their blogs, which can absolutely compete with the high-end glossy magazines such as Vogue and Bazaar.
Anna Wintour at Lanvin Spring/Summer 2013 runway show at Paris Fashion Week (front row)
Anna Dello Russo at Lanvin Spring/Summer 2013 runway show at Paris Fashion Week (front row)
Based on Bryan Boy‘s success, I can certainly conclude that the essence of blogging is how an unprofessional fashion lover shares his/her innermost thoughts and most honest and significant personal beliefs about fashion without any commercial consideration, which touch the heartstrings of readers equally far and wide as, or even better than the glitzy glamorous editorial writing. The purpose of blogging is in the first place to make the door of exclusivity open to ordinary people, and create a democratic space in which every common person is empowered to build the unique, one-of-a-kind and genuine fashion world they own which is like a breath of fresh air, with that they counteract the clichéd luxury fashion market monopolized by the top fashion houses and their wowing marketing strategies and overwhelming media presence. If fashion is built on a cliquey network, the foundation of fashion blogging must be laid in people’s support. Ten years later today, however, bloggers seem unwilling to embrace such a down-to-earth spirit of blogging as they start to realize that blogging can be a shortcut to fame and fortune, and thus their intention becomes impure. Upon my observation of today’s blogosphere, a relatively large number of so-called bloggers tend to chase their dreams of blogging stardom at the expense of the integrity of the individual and an independent autonomous voice. Bryan Boy now being represented by CAA, one of the world’s most renowned talent agencies which represents some of the most powerful people in the entertainment industry like Julia Roberts, Tom Cruise, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, and many more has become another celebrity and no longer blogs (he does but it is more appropriate to call his blog a celeb diary ever since he has turned into a fashion star). Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This quote extracted from Lord Acton‘s letter written in 1887 seems so applicable to today’s bloggers.
Bryan Boy at New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2013
Rumi Neely at Helmut Lang Fall/Winter 2012 runway show at New York Fashion Week
There are some bloggers (yes they claim themselves as bloggers) who are in fact no different from fashion reporters. They unreservedly dedicate their blogs to serving the best interests of big brands and PR agencies, which has resulted in turning their blogs into an advertorial hub. Bloggers of this kind are able to make money from advertising and enjoy all the exclusive benefits, including product sponsorship and being entitled to receive first-hand fashion news offered by their “clients” in return. They may appear successful as they are very popular in the media circle, but let’s face it, they are some smart business opportunists rather than bloggers.
What is more, another type of bloggers who are particularly proactive in establishing their names and expanding their domains within a short time ally among themselves and with designers, stylists, photographers and even PR people and launch their team blogs in a high profile manner through which they boost their marketable and authoritative image to the utmost. Knowing the strategy of self-promotion and market expectations better than anyone else does, this kind of bloggers are acting as their own managers, meaning that they package themselves as fashion gurus and grab every opportunity they can to make themselves stand out and impress and hobnob with the top-tiered fashion elitists backed up by an extensive network of their allied teammates. In this sense, blogging is seen as a means to pride and reputation. Is there still room for sincerity, honesty and faithfulness to life where the true spirit of blogging lies when such an intention is present? I am seriously not sure.
The fashion blogging world has never been so dominated by elitism than it is now. Realizing the unprecedented impact of social media on today’s fashion industry and of course one’s reputation, celebrities, designers, editors, stylists and photographers all join the crowd and embark on a journey of blogging to further promote their names/their works. As aforementioned, blogging is supposed to be a great way to create opportunities for everyone – ordinary people to share with the rest of the world their intuitive fashion sense – something we were all born with. I don’t know since when the elitist attitude which has long existed in fashion has swept across the blogging world, which I reckon would eventually – sadly become another clique – the vicious cycle keeps spinning. Can non-elitist/ordinary bloggers’ voices still be heard by then? I highly doubt it.
Susanna Lau (Susie Bubble)
Photo courtesy of The Guardian/The Observer
Speaking in an interview with The Observer, the famous British blogger of Chinese descent Susanna Lau (Susie Bubble) said: “You have to collaborate with certain labels and get involved in projects in order to make a living, but also hang on to your integrity and be true to your own voice. It’s tricky to navigate.” To strike a fine balance between monetizing a blog and keeping its authenticity is easier said than done especially when the blogger is climbing the fashion ladder gradually working his/her way to the top. The more popular a blogger is, the heavier the burden of fame h/she has to bear and the more conscious h/she will be of what rewards that can be gained in return, which would eventually result in the gradual loss of the ability to blog in a spontaneous and free flowing manner. Who knows if I will follow in Bryan Boy‘s footsteps to walk the path to blogging stardom someday (after all, people change and I am no exception). At least at this moment, I can proudly make my statement (friends be my witnesses) –
I am not a fashion journalist. Neither do I like to see myself as part of the media circle.
I do not feel obligated to catch up with the pulse of fashion (though I prefer to).
Without a sense of urgency, I write at my own pace.
I have full autonomy over what to and not to write.
I let my thoughts fly without worrying about what others might say about me.
My blog is probably not the right place to visit if you aim at gossiping about celebs and socialites attending events and chasing closely after the latest fashion trends (why not simply read Vogue and Bazaar? They have got the best team capable of capturing the hottest fashion news from all over the world).
All the way I have kept my intention pure to share only my personal taste in and my personal experience with fashion.
Fellow bloggers, my advice to you is to be still. It is the distinct character that exudes from your blog that will become your signature. Always stay truthful, authentic and focused and in time all good things will come to you. Why overdo things?