All the news I blogged about!!!!
WWD seeking teeth, bloggers left without them. I pair these stories together because they seem to illustrate a trend in fashion media: blogs have just become point-of-sales, and the fashion news game is about to get really crowded.
Blogging was once considered a “wild west,” where new voices and new ways of consuming and interacting with fashion could emerge. Blogging reinvented street style, it changed the way young talent breaks into the fashion industry (notably, though, this doesn’t hold water for designers), and it transformed the general public’s understanding of and access to the fashion industry. Can you imagine Alexander McQueen putting on his groundbreaking Spring 2001 VOSS show today? It would be Instagrammed, tweeted about, and blogged over to excess; your average sixteen-year-old girl would have an opinion on it.
In the latest issue of Texas Monthly, Francesca Mari profiles Amber Venz, the empress of the fashion industry’s most powerful affiliate site, RewardStyle. (Diclosure: I used RewardStyle in my personal style blogger days, which ended in 2013.) That bloggers are making bank is no big news (remember that WWD story earlier this summer), but it’s the corporatized aspect of the game that’s so shocking here. Looking through the bloggers interviewed, you find a slew of sites in which women are all wearing the same things, styled the same way. And these cash cows aren’t going to be plucked from obscurity and into the front row: the bloggers mentioned in WWD’s story are women you’ve never heard of and probably never will. Their already making $1m a year; what’s a seat at Dior?
Mari writes that bloggers are desperate for brand collaborations, and I think that’s led many bloggers to do what other, more successful bloggers are doing (down to the design and layout of their blogs, and the way they dress) so they look “legit” enough for a brand. They wear stuff they know readers will want to buy (Venz even recounts telling a blogger to dress “down” when the blogger’s sales mean she can starts buying higher end clothes). Times was, kiddos, bloggers wore newly discovered brands, or styled things in an unexpected way, or showed the same ole, perhaps, but with an engaging or surprising voice. That was what bloggers brought to the fashion industry, and the ones who did it well broke through.
Now, the fashion industry and its observers have clearly tired of blogging. I could count the number of “fashion blogs are dead” think pieces that have appeared in the last year on my hands and feet and have to borrow someone else’s hands and feet to finish counting. It doesn’t mean blogs are going away—in fact, I think there is a “masthead” of bloggers who are the “establishment,” and here to stay.
The original purpose of blogging—a kingmaker for the obscure and reasonably well-attired—is what’s dead. That is over. (She writes, on her fashion blog.) The craze for anyone who is wearing clothes on the internet is over. That no longer gives a brand legitimacy. You can’t just start a blog and get in anymore, and the type of bloggers discussed in Mari’s story (save for a few exceptions, who may have made money from RewardStyle but whose success isn’t driven by it, such as Into the Gloss and Man Repeller) are not exactly rolling in and disrupting the game. They’re all doing the same thing, and no amount of Marc Jacobs or Louis Vuitton collaborations, which RewardStyle says it has in the works, is going to change that. Here’s a blogging secret: the clothes don’t make the blogger. The blogger’s point of view does.
Whether there are any people getting into the blogging game with an original point of view is what remains to be seen. Susie Lau told the Financial Times’s fashion critic, Jo Ellison, that new talent will always crop up online, but I certainly have not seen any over the past year.
What we have seen is a new interest in fashion news. Perhaps in response to the soft and mushy fashion experience blogging came to offer, fashion news sites have been nailing it: Style.com, The Cut, and Business of Fashion are must-reads, even for casual fashion followers. Vanessa Friedman said in a recent interview that she wants the NY Times to break more news. Vogue has relaunched its site, which will include more fashion news; an ad that appeared in WWD a few weeks ago suggested Style.com is also relaunching. And about WWD: the New York Times reports today that the fashion paper of record will undergo a makeover under its new owner. People are radical in their devotion to Vanessa Friedman or Tim Blanks, Robin Ghivan or Suzy Menkes. I had friends who were frothing at the mouth when Cathy Horyn penned her first story for the New York Times since her resignation this past winter. And that leads me to think that the next big thing in fashion media is going to be hard news.
It’s kind of a fairytale.
DVF proud of our hot mayor and his hot family. It was just last February that a number of NY fashion insiders seemed to thumb their nose at Bloomberg’s predecessor, a feeling DVF tempered by telling the NY Times, “I am sure we will seduce the new mayor, too.” At last night’s Gracie Mansion party for the city’s top design talents (to my eye, Oscar de la Renta and Zac Posen look like the only major absences), she gushed: “Aren’t we all so proud to be living in New York City and to be in this beautiful house and that our mayor and the first lady and first daughter are so hot?” The mayor announced three new fashion initiatives, as well. (WWD)
Manhattan to convert into department store by 2018. Neiman Marcus will open a store in Hudson Yards in 2018. Nordstrom is also opening in NYC, you may recall. And Barneys is moving back into their original flagship in Chelsea. The seal of New York City will be replaced with this image. So: is Prada going to make 5 versions of the same freaky frock to satisfy the stores, or will brands snob up and go exclusive? (NYT)