I’m cynical by nature. Heck, I may be the only person on the planet who thinks Breakfast at Tiffanys is a depressing movie (I can’t get it out of my head how Holly Golightly is just so desperate).
Anyway, I’m telling you this, because I’ve never really fully trusted “Fashion Media.” You know, the cycles of trends. “In” one day, “Out” the next. Everything is fabulous and gorgeous and exciting. I remember before I discovered blogging, flipping through fashion magazines, thinking, this world was so, so far away. Especially articles like this one I read about a woman telling the story about how she purchased her first item of clothing that cost more than $1000 (which also happened to be an advertiser of the magazine). Or traveling, and meeting with socialites, designers, movie stars, and generally fabulous people. Who lived like this? I did not know anyone like that…
At first I loved blogs because they offered something that fashion magazines did not. A girl in Norway who wore a lot of H&M just like me. A girl in London who searched out designers no one had ever heard of. A guy in Paris who got into all the “cool parties” and photographed the Parisian hipster scene. A disgruntled PR in New York who bitched about industry ridiculousness. Even though they all lived worlds away from me, it didn’t seem so contrived. For once, I could fall in love with fashion in a way I had never thought to before.
So I joined in.
Since then, it’s been a wild ride. Most of the time I have loved it, but not all the time. When blogging started to blow up around 2009/2010 it became obvious that bloggers would have growing pains. Brands jumping in, trying to capitalize on popularity, bloggers trying to capitalize on their own work. It was a gold rush.
More than once I had to fight a brand not to remove a certain line of text here or to not use their verbiage there.
I did not have any experience working with brands, but quickly found out that for all the “authenticity” brands desired, they really wanted that honesty as long as that honesty portrayed their brands in a positive light. More than once I had to fight a brand not to remove a certain line of text here or to not use their verbiage there. Or have been harassed by brands for publicly questioning their intentions. That when a blogger works with brands, it becomes business, not a personal musing. At least for me anyway. Of course, I need to pay rent. I need to eat. So to spend the time I do on my blogs, it’s important to make money. Little by little, brand partnerships became about relaying a message for the brand more than sharing my personal opinion. As much as anyone can say, “Oh, but you don’t have to work with xyz brand.” or “Only work with brands you believe in.” Sure, but after a while you build a reputation… and then you’re out.
The post on Jezebel, As Fashion Bloggers Become Insiders, Do They Lose Their Impact? really honed in on this phenomenon. But even more so, that it’s not just fashion bloggers… but the fashion media industry as a whole, which relies on advertisers to operate, that you can’t be a loose cannon with your opinion, or even candid, or even straight out honest when it comes to brands, because if the New York Times’ Cathy Horyn can be banned from fashion shows for stating her honest opinion, what about the little blogger from a small town? Or heck, what about any other fashion publication digital or print?
…if the New York Times’ Cathy Horyn can be banned from fashion shows for stating her honest opinion, what about the little blogger from a small town?
I’m not trying to justify why fashion media does what it does, nor am I trying to condemn it either. But in reality, “trust” has never been as important as glamor. To the masses anyway. We’ve all bought into the glamour, by dressing up, by reading about fashion, by trying out new trends we see floating around the ether (by “ether” I mean, fashion magazines, newspapers, movies, film, fashion shows, blogs, street style blogs, social media networks, etc.) That behind the scenes there is a great deal of seeding, through celebrities, through press releases, through sponsorships on all levels of media, not just blogging.
Of course, bloggers will continue to bear the brunt of the questioning, being the new kids on the block. But either everyone in the fashion industry genuinely thinks everything is “amazing” or is clever enough to hide their opinions in cleverly worded, expertly written reviews that say nothing at all or they’re doing exactly what bloggers are allegedly doing and remaining tight-lipped about the flaws of the brands they work with.
At the end of the day, I try my best to do what’s right, and I believe that’s what many others do as well. There is no utopia, so everything has it’s plusses and minuses. Sure, we could have expert insights from top-notch journalists giving us the real scoop on fashion, but would they be allowed access to the brands? We could have bloggers who give the most critical reviews of products, but unless they are able to pay for their own products through monetization, or subscriptions (how many of us are willing to pay to read a blog?) they would have to play nice with brands to continue access. So maybe we’re all willing to put up with the schmaltz and the gushing to indulge in fashion escapism…. but for how long?
That’s another post.[Image credit: MCM. Which, I love that wallet by the way. Honestly.]