First Published in We Heart Life
Gone are the days when girls would sit on their doorstep and wait for the noisy motorcycle to deliver their monthly glossies. The longing to flick the silky pages and get a fresh, crispy whiff from a magazine is now being satisfied on a virtual platform.
Traditionally, a 30-day wait was worthwhile, but today the instant gratification of a personalised e-newsletter is rather tempting. And they can come not just from the traditional team of editors and fashion writers reporting on seasonal trends, but also from the virtual goldmine of blogs. Sometimes eccentric, other times authentic, the blogosphere isn’t a new phenomenon for the fashion industry.
Blogging is no longer just a hobby for university students or a means of escape for stay-at-home mums. It is a smart marketing tool for retail stores, designers and the next-door neighbour with a wardrobe to die for.
Everyone on the street has a fashion opinion they believe is worth broadcasting.
The autocratic definition of a fashion journalist has dissolved with time. Anyone with access to a designer wardrobe and a photographer can create a website and fill it with beautiful imagery and opinions. But the concept of fashion blogging can no longer be dismissed as just a fad.
The world has been deluged by influential fashion bloggers. Former web-designer Bryan Grey Yambao (a.k.a. Bryanboy) is known for his witty fashion commentary. His annotations impressed Marc Jacobs so much, the designer named an ostrich bag after him—the ‘BB bag’.
Tommy Ton from Jak&Jill, used his documentary-style photography to win a paid gig with The New York Times, Elle Magazine and other Conde Nast titles. The Australian blog Lady Melbourne draws more than 100,000 hits, per month, from around the world and owner Phoebe Montague concedes that blogging is now her “full-time job”. If these weren’t overwhelming enough, then the intelligent work of 13-year old, Tavi Gavinson, would stupefy a newcomer.
The stylish images on Wide Awake Thoughts has a huge fan following, and creator Jessy Cameron believes it works in Brisbane’s favour.
“When I was travelling overseas and I took photos at markets, people no longer asked me if I had a Facebook or Twitter. They asked me if I had a blog. Brisbane is often criticised for not knowing its stuff, but we are catching up and drawing an international audience,” says the Brisbane-based blogger.
Originally launched to serve as a self-branding tool, Wide Awake Thoughts is now a platform for Cameron to make a “commentary on fashion marketing and branding merged with subtle style anecdotes”.
“It is directional, consistent and a professional tool to showcase my style. I use it to build relationships with other Aussie bloggers and forge friendships,” she says.
Cameron also manages the official blog of Frockshop.com.au, which serves as an important conversation starter on the online dais. “People consider my opinions authoritative enough to quote me. It has opened many professional doors for me,” she says.
Meanwhile Nikki Parkinson started Styling You with an alternative motive. A journalist for more than 20 years and the former fashion editor of Sunshine Coast Daily, Parkinson sees blogging as a medium of “releasing your creative zing”. “I write on it to satisfy my journalistic-self and then there is a personal and corporate style segment, which keeps the traffic coming,” she explains.
International bloggers are often criticised for revealing very little about themselves and for their sites being all about beautiful pictures and locations. Parkinson thinks that aids in being an alluring and charming factor, but not for Brisbane. “In a close-knit community like Brisbane’s, I have a connection with my reader, and thanks to social media, I am more approachable. I have an older audience and I seem more real to them,” says Parkinson. “The clothes look more real because they are on a real person. They are not on a model in a magazine editorial.”
Along with the self-obsessed variety of Generation Y-ers, are the high-profile bloggers who have claimed the ringside seats at fashion weeks. By tweeting blurry images and posting 30-second videos on YouTube, these bloggers have found a very comfortable and glamorous spot in the industry.
The mystery box of fashion parades is now open for the world to see, and are now being used as reference tools by international publications to scrutinise global fads from the desktop.
But American Vogue doesn’t feel the threat, as it continues to maintain its reputable standards. According to Editor Anna Wintour (as quoted on The Opening Ceremony), “Like any evolution in the industry, (fashion bloggers) force you to become better at what you do…They force us to dig deeper for stories, but we’re not competitors; we serve different markets”.
The Courier-Mail fashion editor Laura Stead finds front row reporting to be very beneficial – but only for a journalist. “I took tons of photos and made piles of notes during Brisbane fashion week and have only used those to remind myself both of the season’s trends and the labels that I want to use to demonstrate them,” she says.
As fashion blogging edges close to mainstream media, it is questionable whether it is democratising its existence. Stead disagrees, and finds blogs to be valuable resources, especially for the local market.
“Most blogs are unashamedly opinion-based and I think that’s their main benefit – the more we can discuss fashion and share ideas, the more we’ll be inspired by one another’s style,” she says.
Stead also writes her Behind the Seams blog on couriermail.com.au, which documents her inspiration for photoshoots and Brisbane’s fashion events. “It is really enjoyable to share my voice outside of the constraints of what I do in the newspaper and connect with readers in a different way. The great thing about online media is there are no boundaries,” she says.
“The fact you’re based in Brisbane can have as little or as much relevance to your style or your message as you like. I think a good blog is a good blog, no matter who or where you are.”
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