Although I usually freely express my opinion’s on designers and clothing here on the blog, I’ve still felt a little uneasy about posting my own personal opinions. I don’t know why – maybe it’s something to do with being afraid of being misunderstood online (such a typical worry of the youth) or maybe it’s something to do with being an opinionated female that still feels a little silenced- but after hearing all the great articles released today about that Vogue article, as a Fashion Journalist student and a fairly new fashion blogger, I did think that my opinion could be interesting and worth sharing.
If you have taken a recent 48 hours social media ban and don’t know what I’m talking about, then I’ll link you to this article that Zanita posted on her website that perfectly lays out what was said by which editors, and what the response was from other bloggers.
A few snippets from the article, which was a discussion on Milan Fashion Week, were:
“NOTE TO BLOGGERS WHO CHANGE HEAD-TO-TOE, PAID-TO-WEAR OUTFITS EVERY HOUR: PLEASE STOP. FIND ANOTHER BUSINESS. YOU ARE HERALDING THE DEATH OF STYLE.)” and
“PATHETIC FOR THESE GIRLS, WHEN YOU WATCH HOW MANY TIMES THE DESPERATE TROLL UP AND DOWN OUTSIDE SHOWS, IN TRAFFIC, RISKING ACCIDENTS EVEN, IN HOPES OF BEING SNAPPED.” and
“THERE’S NOT MUCH I CAN ADD HERE BEYOND HOW FUNNY IT IS THAT WE EVEN STILL CALL THEM ‘BLOGGERS,’ AS SO FEW OF THEM EVEN DO THAT ANYMORE. RATHER THAN A CELEBRATION OF ANY ACTUAL STYLE, IT SEEMS TO BE ALL ABOUT TURNING UP, LOOKING RIDICULOUS, POSING, TWITCHING IN YOUR SEAT AS YOU CHECK YOUR SOCIAL-MEDIA FEEDS, FLEEING, CHANGING, REPEATING … IT’S ALL PRETTY EMBARRASSING”
I think it’s fair to say that the comments were pretty aggressive. But the problem is this umbrella term of ‘bloggers’ that seems to encompass both a 15 year old posting pictures in her mirror on Instagram and the girls who have been in the ‘blogging’ industry for a long time and whose CV also includes among the likes of: creative consulting, styling, photography, writer, publisher etc etc… and the list goes on. It feels to me like ‘blogging’ has to be air quoted now, as the phrase has become just too generic to be generalized across all people who do have and run a blog.
So the problem here lies in the fact that all bloggers are being unfairly categorized under this one umbrella term that doesn’t fully quite represent what they do. I spoke to Navaz Batliwalla from Disney Rollergirl – a freelance fashion editor, consultant and blogger – about her thoughts on the Vogue article, she also agreed that the term ‘blogger’ was just too general.
She thought that the comments made by the Vogue team, were probably in relation to a specific type of ‘blogger’ whose content is made up of products they’ve been sent for free (by a few companies who still believe that sending a tonne of free products to a bunch of teenagers who have ‘blogger’ in their tag line on Instagram is going to get them substantial revenue for the long run) and who aren’t posting anything with real substance or anything or real interest to their readers.
I recently wrote an article for Geist magazine (you can purchase Issue 4 from retailers in cities) titled ‘we aren’t buying it’, in which I spoke about the shift away from the traditional methods of advertising in magazines and newspapers, to a new marketing method in the form of blogs and Youtube.
In the article, I used a quote from Margaret Zhang, creator of blog Shine By Three, in which she hit back at anonymous on Tumblr over an accusation that she was ‘selling out’ by accepting and wearing the much coveted Louis Vuitton bag (it was gifted to her from the company as a thank you for her long work with the brand). She said:
“If I am posting, tap-tagging or linking to product, it’s because they are genuinely things that I’m wearing day to day … That’s the whole point of social media and web content – people can get the information they need, consume the content they want, and onto the next.
From experience, it’s far more effective for brands to invest the time and money into hiring somebody for their skills to create exclusive content for the brand. But apparently, higher powers seem to think that “being in with the young kids” means paying a crowd of Instagrammers, who may or may not even be on brand, to say nice things about a product they know nothing about.”
It’s clear here that what Margaret believes in is quite simply, authenticity. She used her blog as a means to get her to other career paths, in which she is now a very talented and successful photographer and stylist (and she has a blog too, which you can also check out if you want). Susie Bubble took to Twitter to express her surprise at the comments, exclaiming that Vogue’s comments were hypocritical as both parties are “beholden to brands in one way or another” and both receive goods to ‘advertise’, as well as thank you gifts.
Margaret said: “Correct – Louis Vuitton gifted the bag in question to a number of bloggers, general influencers, celebrities, editors and general fashion industry to say thank you for our continued support of the brand – in the same way that I would send flowers to my agency to thank them for working with me.”
I doubt, and highly hope, that Vogue’s comments would have been aimed at Margaret or any hardworking ‘blogger’ alike her. After all, one of the Vogue editor’s in question was only recently featured on ManRepeller’s Oh Boy! Podcast discussing content in a digital space. (You can read ManRepeller’s response to the article here)
But, again, it was wrong of Vogue to use the very generalized term of ‘bloggers’ as such harsh comments will obviously be taken, and have been taken, very personally by a lot of people. I think perhaps, what was supposed to be discussed/criticized here was the idea of the street style peacocks that Suzy Menkes referred to in her infamous essay on ‘The Circus of Fashion’.
Does anyone remember when VICE made one of their editors take to the streets of London Fashion Week dressed in – literally – garbage just to see how much attention she could get from the street style photographers? I think that it is this kind of ‘peacocking’ that the Vogue editors were referring to in their article.
Personally, I am not against bloggers wearing full branded looks to Fashion Week, it doesn’t offend me and really, why is it offending anyone? Fashion is both fun and serious at the same time, and I certainly don’t believe in trying to bring anyone down or trying to re-establish some kind of fashion hierarchy. Clearly, as a fellow fashion blogger, I love the fact that bloggers are the way to make fashion accessible for everyone. Taking the looks/concepts on the runway and making them easier for their readers to digest, whilst still keeping that air of mystery and escapism that is, I would say, an absolutely necessary and wonderful part of fashion.
What I certainly don’t believe in, is trying to divide a commonly united interest in fashion and attempting to cling on to some form of elitism by offending other professions. And whilst it can often feel these days that it is difficult to freely express your personal opinion without backlash, being plain rude is just, well, it’s just plain rude really isn’t it.
Ultimately, I think it all comes down to this idea of classification and boxing. You just simply cannot box everyone who ‘blogs’ in the category of ‘bloggers’ as the landscape is just too diverse and as we have seen here, you’ll certainly end up offending people you probably didn’t mean to.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, it’s certainly a topic that should be openly discussed so ALL opinions are heard 🙂 Also, let me know what you thought to this more longer, thought/’opinion’ piece.
I think that it’s worth mentioning and making clear here, that I am in no way making an article against Vogue, which if you have read the whole article (in which case, I applaud you on your effort) you’d know that this is not the case. The opinions expressed in the Vogue article were only those of a few editors and as I unpacked in this article, were probably not intentionally made in reference to all bloggers.
Also, apologies for the overuse of the air quotes ‘ ‘ in this article, but I decided it was necessary in order to communicate what I saying and make you guys aware that I’m fully aware of the wide interpretations of such words when I use them.