For years, industry insiders have been discussing the place of the style blogger in the exclusive world of fashion. You would think that by now the arguments as to whether they belong, if their jobs are legit, or if their presence is at all relevant would have been put to bed, not just because many influencers have become fixtures in the fashion world in their own right but because it’s one that has already been labored to death.
But some editors are still not here for the style influencer. Vogue.com recently published a recap of Milan Fashion Week in which four fashion editors took the opportunity to complain about the presence of style bloggers. “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,” Sally Singer, Vogue creative digital director, wrote. Singer’s co-worker Sarah Mower, Vogue.com chief critic, added some of her gripes as well, saying that not only is the aggression of the street photographers who swarm these influencers outside of shows “horrible” for fellow attendees, it’s even more “pathetic for these girls, when you watch how many times the desperate troll up and down outside shows, in traffic, risking accidents even, in hopes of being snapped.”
Nicole Phelps, director of Vogue Runway, doesn’t just find the preening for photographers in borrowed clothing distressing, she finds it similarly problematic watching “so many brands participate. No coincidence that Versace and BV [Bottega Veneta] are two houses that don’t play the game.”
Alessandra Codinha thinks it’s funny that these individuals are still called “bloggers,” when some don’t even blog as much as they used to. “Rather than a celebration of any actual style, it seems to be all about turning up, looking ridiculous, posing, twitching in your seat as you check your social media feeds, fleeing, changing, repeating,” Vogue.com’s fashion news editor said. “It’s all pretty embarrassing — even more so when you consider what else is going on in the world.” Funnily enough, Codinha failed to see the irony in writing about expensive clothes and complaining about people wearing them when the important things she cares so much about in the world are going on. “Looking for style among a bought-and-paid-for (‘blogged out?’) front row is like going to a strip club looking for romance. Sure, it’s all kind of in the same ballpark, but it’s not even close to the real thing.” Cold. Blooded.
The editors’ words did not go over without a clap-back from a few bloggers. Bryanboy piped up on Twitter to point out what he saw as hypocrisy in their comments, which he called “schoolyard bullying, plain and simple.” He mentioned that while these editors were pointing the finger at bloggers for “playing the game” with design houses, the publications they work for are essentially doing the same thing.
“I’d have a bounty for my head if I namechecked all the editors who told me they only go to certain shows because they’re advertisers,” he tweeted. “And what about editorials in head to toe runway looks? Celebrity covers because they’re the face of the brand? … When your salary is being paid for by advertiser credits and head to toe runway looks shot on the pages of a magazine…” Bryanboy also mentioned that he pays out of pocket for plenty of his threads.
Susie Lau got in on the debate as well, mentioning that this criticism coming from the Vogue editors are the same gripes about style bloggers from years ago. “The fashion establishment don’t want their circles enlarged … and for the ivory tower to remain forever that. Towering and impenetrable.” She also mentioned that Vogue itself participates in the street style culture, using photos of the very bloggers and women in “paid for” outfits to create content. “maybe stop running
@MrStreetPeeper‘s photos and gaining their site clicks, if those women in ‘paid-to-wear’ outfits are so repugnant,” she wrote. Furthermore, fashion editors are often included in these slideshows, and they’re just as designer dipped and swagged out as the bloggers.
Caroline Vreeland, great-granddaughter of legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, chimed in on Instagram. “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,” she wrote.
— Shea Marie (@peaceloveSHEA) September 27, 2016
At this point, the argument against bloggers is so boring. They’re here, girl, deal with it! A portion of the fashion establishment has been kicking, screaming, and whining about it for years, yet bloggers continue to scoop up magazine covers, endorsements, TV gigs — some even have their own clothing and accessory lines. Doesn’t it get tiring to debate the validity of what they do when it’s been proven that, yes, they have a place in the industry, whether you like their head-to-toe single-designer outfits or not? You have a “editor” title, but to act as if there aren’t similarities in regard to the way brands interact with some editors, magazines, and bloggers seems dishonest. Besides, Susie Lau’s and Bryanboy’s social media followings are in the hundreds of thousands, compared with the Vogue editors in question (who still have a substantial following, I should note). I would wager those two bloggers are more recognizable to the average person than the editors attempting to dis people like them. This, of course, shouldn’t take away from the talent and expertise of the editors — it just goes to show that the bloggers they so abhor are, at the end of the day, a force in this industry. Fashion is a business, and bloggers have found a way to navigate it in a way that works for them. So why the hateration in this dancerie?
Sure, the swarms of photographers outside Fashion Week venues are annoying. The preening is sometimes worthy of an eye roll, but really, is it anything more than a nuisance? It’s not as if any of these editors are unable to do their jobs because bloggers are posing for pictures at Fashion Week. It can be tricky, but you can, you know, walk through or around photographers if you want to avoid them. The hubbub made by gussied-up bloggers and thirsty shutterbugs is far less of a commotion than trying to catch the L train at 14th Street and Seventh Avenue during rush hour — and still, folks manage to get to work and do their jobs in spite of it.
Interesting that style bloggers are drawing this same tired criticism in an industry where models’ Instagram followers or famous heritage can make them some of the most in-demand muses today. Bloggers gained prestige because of their massive followings, and brands saw opportunities to capitalize on that. How are the Hadids or Kendall Jenner, nabbing cover after cover over the host of models without famous parents out there, any different in that sense? Perhaps we should just acknowledge the role certain people play in fashion, instead of trying to tear down those who made it in this tough industry?
Back in 2013, Suzy Menkes wrote “The Circus of Fashion” for T magazine, lamenting the Fashion Week circus that has come as a result of the “peacocks,” or bloggers who dress in part to be photographed for street style fodder. “But now subjects are ready and willing to be objects, not so much hunted down by the paparazzi as gagging for their attention,” Menkes wrote. “But two things have worked to turn fashion shows into a zoo: the cattle market of showoff people waiting to be chosen or rejected by the photographers, and the way that smart brands, in an attempt to claw back control lost to multimedia, have come in on the act.”
It’s 2016. Can a blogger live?