Being a part of the inaugural Teen Vogue blogger lounge at WWDMAGIC, in collaboration with Fashionably Digital, was an incredible journey. First, it was a fascinating front row seat from which to witness exactly how the traditionally B2B fashion trade show and traditional fashion media are evolving to provide consumer access through fashion bloggers, streaming video and digital social media tools. It was also a welcome respite from the daily grind of developing and executing social media strategy for consumer brands, though I found it difficult to remove that frame of reference and fully relax into the role of the fashion blogger. Ok, it wasn't all that difficult to get used to having my make up done every day!
Luckily, I spent the three days getting to know a wildly diverse group of fashion bloggers, which provided considerable food for thought. My head was spinning, taking into account how the varying points of view, years (or months!) of experience, direct fashion industry experience/involvement, access and privilege and how that colored each bloggers' experience (including mine), and of course, the corresponding brand and media interest based on value and appeal. As a fashion marketer, you can be sure I was taking notes!
For example, Colby Jordan, who's nascent video blog Minnie Muse features the sweet seventeen-year old interviewing fashion elite like Daphne Guinness and posing for photographs with Karl, and Jane Aldridge, of Sea of Shoes fame, came with their moms rightly in tow. Is it telling I felt more at home chatting with Colby's lovely mom than posing for a zillion pictures? On the other hand, Erica Domesek of P.S. I Made This (with eponymous DIY book and crafty enthusiasm at the ready) thoroughly impressed me with her years of industry experience, media savvy, confidence and ability answer the same question (mainly, so how/why did you start your blog) over and over in a slightly different yet no less compelling way.
In addition to the media darlings, Jazz Ayers, a fashion marketing student out of LA and Nicole Giordano, a textile designer out of New York who covered the show for StartUp Fashion, both impressed me with their incredible work ethic. Fashion journalist Hilla Ohayon kept me sane through 45-minute long Starbuck's lines and so much more! I also enjoyed the opportunity to share a bit about PR Couture during the panel on the business of blogging that was streamed live and later made available on TeenVogue.com.
While romping around the various trade shows provided great insight into upcoming trends (all hail the return of the maxi skirt!), because I cover fashion from a pretty specific (fashion PR/marketing) lens, it was rare to find fashion brands with marketing or PR people at their booths with which to connect. Instead, sales reps tended to buyers, (rightly so) and were most interested in those looking to sign orders. I hope that as consumer access becomes a larger part of the trade show experience (the way it has with Fashion Week), brands will also extend the goals of their trade show involvement and see it also as a powerful PR and marketing opportunity to tell their brand story and connect with their customers. Or at least stop yelling at a girl for trying to take a picture (it's a wonder what a flash of press badge can do to call off the fashion hounds!).
To that end, I would have loved the lounge to have a more explicitly orchestrated schedule aligned with each blogger’s niche, including one-on-one interviews with major sponsors and time spent with Teen Vogue and WWDMAGIC representatives. Perhaps a round-table discussion with brands at the show would have sparked some fun discussion. I certainly would have liked to have an open and honest conversation about how we may be able to work together in the future, and how the shifting media landscape is impacting their promotional approach. As the novelty of having bloggers at the shows wears off, I look forward to more strategic events that facilitate greater connections between bloggers and brands. In addition, should any participating brands be reading, I'd love to learn the best way to engage and connect at future shows!
Given the niche of this site, it seemed altogether appropriate that I found myself palling around with fellow San Diego fashion industry professionals during the show, including the amazing fashion PR duo, CEO Danielle Gano and fashion publicist Dara Bu, of Elle Communications, as well as dear friend and cheerleader, Nacole Gray of RichSkinnyPretty and powerhouse Whitney Benjamin. It was great fun to have my San Diego friends around to experience the magic of magic (and to enjoy Valentine's Day champagne and to freeze with in an Ice Bar. Yes. That happened.).
More photos are up on the PR Couture Facebook Page. Extra thanks to WWDMAGIC for inviting me, Teen Vogue, the L'oreal make-up lounge for turning a dehydrated 30-something into something worth looking at (!) and Lulus.com for sending me the incredible, huge canvas bag I lugged everywhere, and the most insane shoes I have ever owned.