[ed-note: Occasionally I like to re-publish fashion industry commentary from those in the trenches on the issues and opportunities surrounding us that I find worthy of promotion and discourse. Thank you Sarah for allowing us to republish on PR Couture. View the original post]
Written by Sarah Conley
People who work in glass towers shouldn’t throw stones.
During my morning roam around the internet, I came across a post on Derek Blasberg’s blog featuring a recent documentary about the street style craze as it specifically relates to fashion weeks around the globe. Within this documentary, the discussion moves to a conversation about bloggers and our impact on the industry. This video has stuck with me all day like spinach in my teeth – I just can’t get it out of my mind! I always find myself horrified when editors and journalists use the word “blogger”. It seems to be dripping with disdain, like they think of our community like Fendi knockoffs on Canal Street. Are we so loathsome? Should we be treated like criminals who have been exiled from the fashion kingdom? How dare we have an opinion!
Believe me, I’m well aware that a few bad apples can spoil the whole bunch, but I often find myself wondering if any of these editors have spent time getting to know a legitimate member of the blogging community, or are they the type of people who say that they don’t have time for Twitter/Facebook? Is it because they don’t understand the value in multiple voices and opinions, or is it because they are adverse to change?
I’ve never referred to myself as a writer or a journalist. I didn’t go to college to be a reporter and I didn’t spend years of my life memorizing every rule of grammar, but I did study fashion at a respected university. I learned how to sew on factory production machines and drafted my own patterns. I learned about the amazing work of Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo before Gwen Stefani made them relevant in pop culture. I may not have been born into a wealthy family or raised around closets of couture, but that doesn’t make my love for fashion any less valid. I began my blog in October of 2006 because I was tired of talking to my friends in Fayetteville, Arkansas about things they didn’t care about. Olivia Palermo, the latest MAC collections, and Penelope Cruz’s most recent red carpet outfit were not high on their list of priorities. I got my first real job as the community manager for the very first fashion blogging community. I believe in the power of one voice and I haven’t stopped nurturing, protecting, and encouraging this special place we’ve all created.
Just like in the blogging community, not all editors or journalists feel negatively about bloggers and the online space. Some standout stars make the transition from traditional media to digital (just look at Eva Chen) seamlessly. The internet has turned topics into global conversations and brought so much value to many industries, plus created many opportunities in cities around the globe. Just talk to the small designer that doesn’t have to hold her breath waiting on the next Women’s Wear Daily or Style.com review because she’s built her business on great relationships with bloggers who support her endeavors. Or take a closer look at YouTube beauty gurus and you’ll find a multi-million dollar brand with a foundation deeply rooted in girls talking about their favorite makeup brushes in their bedrooms. A closer look at Phillip Lim’s analytics (and those of his retail partners) might paint a very telling picture about the success of his accessory business.
Isn’t it magical that you can access information on any topic at the swipe of your finger? That millions of people are celebrating (and sharing) the many qualities that make them an individual? The way that we consume information has changed, and along with that, the value that we place on that information has changed. The magazines are no longer the loudest voice in the room, and for that I am grateful.
Perhaps the true problem with fashion week is that the format no longer works. I agree – not everyone needs to attend a runway show. In fact, the editors don’t even need to be there if we are being completely honest. There are market appointments, previews, and resees following the shows. The fashion machine is going through some growing pains as we all adapt to a new measure of time and a speed of innovation that is impossible to maintain. Perhaps the next time you ponder the state of the industry, you’ll expand your lens beyond the digital community to evaluate the industry as a whole.
Just like I cannot control who sits at the next table at my favorite restaurant, editors and traditional media cannot control the bloggers and online personalities that are invited to attend an event. Everyone in a room – any room – comes with a point of view and leaves with a unique perspective on their experience. The best part of the internet is that we’re not in competition. I’m not in competition with any magazine, blog, or traditional media source. The real power comes from a person’s choice to consume as much content as they wish and to control how, when, where, and why that consumption happens.
If fingers are to be pointed at anyone, perhaps it is the lack of innovation coming out of those glass towers the editors look down at us from. The pressure to keep up is tremendous and the task of being an innovator is daunting. Perhaps if the industry spent more time looking inward for growth and change instead of pointing fingers, we might find that together our voices can be a part of something truly special.
About Sarah Conley
With fourteen seasons at NYFW and counting, Sarah Conley is a veteran fashion and beauty blogger. She was the first community manager for fashion bloggers, and is now a seasoned digital marketing and social media consultant for fashion brands. Read more about Sarah on StyleItOnline or connect with her @StyleIt