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The meteoric rise of blogs and social media platforms has led to massive changes in how consumers make purchasing decisions, and nowhere is this shift more pronounced than in the fashion industry. Today, fashion-focused bloggers, Instagrammers, YouTubers, and Snapchat stars command an increasing level of influence on where their social media audiences shop and what they wear, leading fashion incumbants—specifically, editors of top fashion magazines and executives at high fashion companies—to blame the actions of social media stars for slipping sales and underperforming products.
Is there any validity to their complaints, or are these bygone “gatekeepers” of fashion simply upset for being left out of the conversation?
The Los Angeles Times recently proclaimed: “Gone are the days when women took their beauty tips mainly from fashion and beauty magazines. In the digital age, those titles—and their editors—are quickly becoming almost irrelevant.”
This poignant truth is perhaps what prompted Vogue Magazine’s creative digital director Sally Springer to lash out at fashion bloggers in what was meant to be a lighthearted recap of the 2017 Milan Fashion Week, saying: “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” (Vogue).
Following Springer’s lead, executives at fashion brands pounced on the opportunity to criticize the (negatively perceived) impact fashion bloggers have had on the fashion industry, though for entirely different reasons.
“Today, fashion shows are now blogged and broadcast all over the world via social media,” said Karen Katz, the CEO of luxury department store chain Neiman Marcus. “By the time the merchandise ships many months later, the newness and excitement had worn off and in many cases, the customer has moved on” (Quartz). According to Fortune, Neiman Marcus’ sales have been falling for four straight quarters, a trend Katz feels comfortable pinning, at least in part, on the prevalence and influence of fashion bloggers.
Unwilling or unable to turn a deaf ear to the calls for them to “find another business,” the world’s top fashion bloggers—including Danielle Bernstein (weworewhat), Shea Marie (peaceloveshea), Susie Lau (susiebubble), Bryan Yambao (bryanboy), and Caroline Vreeland—fought back on their social media accounts, calling Vogue’s criticism “schoolyard bullying,” “old fashioned,” “shameful,” “catty and hypocritical,” and more.
This is not the first time the impact of fashion bloggers (and social media in general) has prompted an outcry from fashion’s former standard-bearers, and it surely won’t be the last.
As consumers continue abandoning traditional forms of media (i.e. magazines, television, and newspaper) en masse and both fashion brands and publications fail to keep up with the quickening pace of digitally-driven consumerism, expect future clashes between those who formerly defined the “ins and outs” of the fashion industry and social media influencers who have become the tastemakers for millions.
As I sat with friends watching the debate last night, I felt anxiety about the future of our country. Watching two presidential hopefuls argue over tax reform, immigration and racial profiling amongst petty insults and interruptions was discouraging to say the least. On a more personal level, I woke up this morning to the published commentary of Vogue and Vogue.com editors essentially bullying “bloggers” and I thought, if women can’t even support each other in a female-centric industry, then we really are screwed. I’ve always felt the word “blogger” is reductive and non-descriptive of what I and many others like myself do. I am an entrepreneur, an influencer, a business woman…and yes, I have a blog too. It saddens me that a respected institution such as Vogue would insult bloggers and attempt to discourage young woman from forging their own career paths, by expressing themselves through what Vogue represents; personal style fashion. I’ve always felt my “brand” to be slightly more commercial than high end, but that doesn’t mean I don’t aspire to work with Vogue one day. And on some level I get it; parading around for street style photographers outside a show may look silly to some, but this exchange between photographers, models, celebrities, editors and, yes, bloggers serves a necessary purpose in this industry. From a practical perspective, it provides content for websites like Vogue.com and from an artistic perspective provides a large platform for brands to display their most recent collections. I’d like to give Vogue the benefit of the doubt here, and say that a few old-school editors representing an archaic mindset of the prestigious publication rattled off some thoughtless, bitter comments. Perhaps they’ll change their opinions after reading the responses of countless bloggers, followers, and readers alike who are firing back with their own opinions on who and what matters in our industry. I think it’s safe to say almost every designer, brand, and model in the fashion industry owes some of their success to the rise of social media and digital content. No one should be made to feel ashamed of that. And yes, I am registered to vote.
[Mini Preface here: I was waiting to post this pic as my very own warm spirited “Ciao, Milano!” But now it seems even more apropos… ] Dear @voguemagazine, since you hold a special and significant place in my heart, may I pose a question? If certain people on your team hate bloggers & influencers so much, I’m just curious why you put them on your international covers to increase sales. I’m not a blogger but I find your recent statements old fashioned and just plain rude. Most of the bloggers I know are hard working young entrepreneurs. I find it shameful that an institution such as Vogue would demean and belittle these young people who are building their own paths, especially since they are mostly young women, calling them “pathetic” and comparing them to strippers. This certainly isn’t the Vogue voice my great-grandmother once stood for. One contributor writes that she envies the Italian woman who enjoys life…maybe less complaining and worrying about what other people are doing would help to quell this jealousy. I say live and let live! I think all chic women, Italian and otherwise, would agree. Xoxo, the girl who wore a full body fishnet at 9am. Photo by @timuremek_photography
Please read!! Dear a certain few Vogue.com editors- The only thing that is “pathetic” here is this jealous, catty and hypocritical article you’ve just published. You are exactly the type of people that have given the fashion world the cold, unwelcoming and ruthless reputation it has had in the past. Thankfully those times are changing. I’m sorry if you can’t accept that what a “public figure” wears on the street is undoubtedly more influential than your post-fashion week column. That the fashion world isn’t controlled by you alone anymore. You even criticize the brands, for what? For having figured out the obvious: (news flash!) what people choose to wear and purchase is greatly inspired by the people they admire- the public figures (influencers, actors/actresses, musicians, bloggers, models). I respect you all deeply and the hard work you put into the industry. I look up to you. Which is why I feel so taken aback now at how tasteless and classless the words are that you chose. I would think an institution such as Vogue would respect young entrepreneurs instead of belittling them. It’s ironic how you make degrading comments about influencers, and then put them on your international covers to boost sales. And to echo the statements of others- how many of your covers are paid for “head to toe looks” by brands? What about the daily “street style” pictures and articles on your website homepage. Why? Because-guess what?-that’s what gets the clicks. As for your “get a real career” comment- I’m not sure exactly who you’re referring to; surely not me or someone like me. I built and design my own successful line, I style and creative consult for countless brands, and am invested in numerous other successful businesses behind the scenes. I grew up in a small town and came from nothing- I’d call that pretty impressive and admirable. I take pride in giving hope to young women around the world that they too can build something from nothing. I think I speak for “us” all when I say the bottom line here is that if you weren’t threatened you wouldn’t care at all. ✌?️ (? from New York by @sinx1002) A photo posted by Shea Marie (@peaceloveshea) on