Sunday, 12 January 2014

Bloggers At Fashion Week

A note from Joelle... 

♫ ♪ 'Uninvited' - Alanis Morissette ♫ ♪

I own this image
This is a seriously controversial topic within the fashion blogging community, but I just feel like it's time to say (or write) something that has been stirring for quite some time now.
This isn't a rant post, I promise. I just want to see if anyone else is sharing the same feeling as I do about this little issue. I will only talk in context to London Fashion Week as I have never been to the Paris, New York or Milan fashion weeks. 
Firstly, I believe that (most) bloggers do deserve to be at Fashion Week. They are a type of new media, that isn't going away anytime soon. I believe they bridge the gap between the buying public and the fashion elite, and boy, it's a big gap. 
In fact, there are so many bloggers applying for Fashion Week and London Collections, that press and designers alike are beginning to take notice. However, not all are very happy about it (mainly because they seem to look clingy and apparently outnumber 'serious' fashion writers these days), because of 'lack of real expertise' when it comes to fashion and all the alleged pomp/peacocking that comes with fashion bloggers.

It's wonderful that bloggers can apply for tickets and enter the showrooms at Somerset House because it shows that we are being recognised as influential media.  The BFC even launched a new Blogger Strategy to deal with the oversubscribed blogger registrations. However I think that some bloggers are abusing this a bit...
I think there is a bit of confusion about what Fashion Week is: it's a trade event, not a rite of passage for bloggers when they start getting a few more readers. Lots of bloggers (especially new ones) see fashion week as the place to be, not actually knowing that it is a event where a lot of work has to be done and deals to secure.
Yes, there's a lot of theatricality with bizarre catwalk themes and even weirder outfits, but it is a serious event that generates a lot of money for the British Fashion Industry (millions in fact).

The thing that irritates me the most is the fact that a lot of bloggers create a massive hype about getting invites to shows (as seen by the piles of colourful invitations they post on instagram) but then never write about these shows or even mention them in their LFW posts. What is that about?
Most only post articles about what they and their friends are wearing on the cobbles of Somerset House. Of course, these posts can be interesting and creative, but it is really frustrating if they don't post a review (or even a wee picture) of a catwalk show/presentation. Even a few street style snaps of people other than themselves would be nice! Just think about how the PRs representing the designers feel about this?
And then there are the other bloggers, who go just to 'soak up the atmosphere' because they have to show tickets. But what they are really doing is dressing in silly patterns in order to be photographed by magazines and street style photographers. I've seen them with my own eyes, doing fuck-all but taking so many pics to create the illusion that they are influential enough to attend shows.
A lot of them are ignored by photographers because they can tell straight away the difference between real style and peacocking
Those are the kinds of bloggers that the fashion elite cannot stand, and I can totally see why.
It's no wonder the word 'Blogger' is such a dirty word in the fashion industry and insiders think that it's becoming more of a 'zoo' each season (the words of Catherine Bennett, senior vice president of IMG).
In relation to the 'zoo' statement, I honestly believe that bloggers get all the blame put on them when fashion week looks 'cluttered' and manic. Bloggers are only part of the 'zoo' and not the whole issue. But of course,as we are at the bottom of the fashion heap, it's easier to pile on the blame on bloggers without addressing the other problems.

Obviously, a blog is a place for the creator to write about whatever they want, but I know of the pure struggle is it to get a few Fashion Week tickets and how many hours it takes to perfect those ticket request emails. 
When I try to read up on a blogger's Fashion Week experience, I feel as if the invite was wasted when they didn't even tell their readers about the collection and just tweet a picture of themselves at the show. 
This is not good enough and also why lots of designers at NY Fashion Week are doing a 'Blogger Cull', where they are only permitting ones with a colossal followings and real industry connections.
In contrast, it does like a bit of a double standard as lots of those designers invite (and often pay celebrities/socialites) to basically 'be seen' at their show. But as we all know, fashion is indeed a social club with a clear hierarchy - bloggers are still near the bottom of the pyramid and celebs will always be seen as a bigger asset to shows than bloggers.

Bloggers (both established and less-established) are important as they get information out quicker than magazines through their many social media realms and are gaining trust from readers who are looking for a 'more real' alternative to the regular media. 
Just look at Zoe Sugg aka Zoella - according to the BBC, she has a bigger readership than VOGUE. That is an astonishing achievement for a single blogger, who has not done a journalism, Media or IT degree!

I would just like to see more bloggers realising that it is a total privilege to attend shows at London Fashion Week and it shouldn't just be about 'getting spotted' on the cobbles. Yes, there are lots of press and celebs dotted around so it's perfectly normal to get caught up in the frenzy of air-kisses and flashing cameras. But, bloggers are there as members of the press and we have to work hard to make sure that that isn't taken away from us.

No one can deny that blogging (about fashion) is hot right now and almost anyone with internet access wants to try their hand at it and join our growing community. That's what I love about it - passion and drive! 
It was the same passion and drive that got bloggers from being the ultimate underdogs to sitting FROW at fashion shows (like the fabulous Susie from Style Bubble and  Chiara from The Blonde Salad).
Bloggers might not have spent years at journalism or media school, but they have a voice and a platform that this digital-generation has been waiting for. 
Wasting this virtual voice it is a real shame.

If you've reached the end of this essay, thank you for sticking with it!
Perhaps you're thinking I'm a total nobody and shouldn't comment on such matters, or that I might have a point here? I'd love to know what you think! Your opinion is always welcome on my blog. :)

PS - I just found this wonderful article by BoF, which is about the same topic. Have a read HERE.
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