The increasing popularity of fashion blogging poses new challenges to traditional fashion journalism.
Fashion journalism has remained a constant as the fashion industry evolved. As brands gather cachet and trends are formed, publications such as Vogue and Harpers Bazaar have supplied glimpses into the ‘behind the scenes’ of the fashion world. Fashion journalism made the elite accessible and the glamorous attainable. Though the credibility and prestige that accompany these publications carry considerable advantages, a new form of fashion journalism has been gaining popularity as technology evolves. Amateur fashion journalists have gained an ever-growing audience through the medium of online blogging, vlogging and social media. In recent years, fashion bloggers have threatened to overstep their bounds as they infiltrate the industry, accruing massive audiences and influence by intelligently employing digitalisation on a range of platforms.
The New Realm of Blogging:
Though fashion blogging is a relatively new concept, the foundations were laid well before the digitalisation of journalism. In an article written by freelance journalist Chelsea Burcz for Independent Fashion Bloggers, Burcz notes that as early as 1978, fashion photographer Bill Cunningham published a series of photographs in the New York Times which has developed into a street style column, not dissimilar to the framework many bloggers use today. (Burcz, 2012) By 1994, the concept of online diaries was popularized by professionals such as Claudio Pinhanez and Justin Hall. In the 2000’s, blogging websites began to emerge and users began to utilize these tools to create their own online diaries or journals, among these were the first fashion bloggers. (Burcz, 2012) By 2006, fashion moguls such as Julie Frederickson, Scott Schuman, Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan had successfully started fashion blogs that soon would become lucrative. As the years go by more and more blogs begin to appear, and soon prominent designers take notice. Noticeably, Dolce and Gabbana, whom in 2009 filled the front row of their catwalk show with relatively unknown fashion bloggers, rather than the usual celebrities and fashion elite. (Yambao, 2009) Currently, fashion bloggers and industry professionals have melded into one. Famous bloggers are now paid to make appearances at fashion events. Once begging to be accepted into the fashion world, amateur fashion journalists are now sought after.
As digitalisation evolves, the influence web based journalism has had increases immensely. Fashion blogs such as The Glamourai and Man Repeller have arguably gained more reach over consumers than century old publications such as Vogue and Harpers Bazaar. (Business Insider, 2011) Online blogging is easily accessible, free and is often updated more regularly than print, therefore allowing audiences greater access to content. As fashion bloggers blur the lines between personal lives and professional, audiences are given a greater amount of content to consume, in addition to often supplying a “role model” to look up to. (Ng, 2015) Fashion magazines are taking notice of the benefit of harnessing digitalisation, for example in 2009 magazine publication Elle hired a blogger to revamp their online presence. (Business Insider, 2011) As bloggers gained more influence, companies began to take notice, where now bloggers are able to make up to a six-figure salary on revenue predominately made from advertising on their website. (Dazed Digital , 2014) Popular blogs not only have a more varied audience due to the online aspect of their content, but they are also gaining a bigger audience than fashion magazines. For example BryanBoy, one of the first fashion blogs gathers an average of 1.4 million page views a month, which is vastly different to Vogue’s magazine sales (see info-graph). Furthermore, bloggers have branched out into other careers. Fashion bloggers are often publishing books, appearing on television and collaborating with fashion designers. (Phelan, 2013) NadiaAboulhosn.com is an example of a fashion blogger who partnered with clothing brand Boohoo to design a collection for plus size women. (Aboulhosn, 2015) Overall, some fashion blogs are continuing to gain notoriety within the industry and accumulate a fan base that rivals that of prestigious fashion publications.
Case Study: www.BryanBoy.com
Bryan Grey-Yambao, better known as BryanBoy was relatively quick to join the fashion blogging scene in 2004 at age twenty-four. (Yambao, Fashion Blogger BryanBoy, 2015) As a self-professed label obsessed amateur, Yambao has used his personal fashion style as a gateway into the fashion industry, blogging predominately about lush shopping expeditions, editorial style photo-shoots of his outfits and his experiences at elite fashion events. All of which with no formal journalism education, furthermore Yambao has not held a job previous to his blog. As a pioneer for this common fashion blogging style, as stated above, BryanBoy has accrued approximately 1.4 million page views per month and half a million followers on twitter. (Strugatz, 2011) (Twitter/BryanBoy) One of Yambao’s focal points as a fashion blogger is his personal relationship with industry professionals; Anna Wintour, Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce, demonstrating the level of access successful bloggers can have into the professional world of fashion. To this day, BryanBoy is a highly successful, highly paid blogger, making most of his revenue from public appearances and advertising. (Strugatz, 2011)
The Question of Credibility:
In the case of citizen journalism, the question of credibility is often raised. With no professional training or resources, often the quality of content is significantly degraded in blogging and other forms of amateur journalism. However within the fashion industry, credibility is more ambiguous, as fashion journalism can often be focused on marketing. Advertising and marketing are prolific due to the heavily consumer driven aspect of the industry. Credible publications generate the majority of their worth through marketing other companies. Vogue, for example, used approximately 2,691 pages for advertising in 2013 alone. (Statista, 2013) Josephine Collins, writing for The Conversation states that fashion publications are losing their credibility at an alarming rate, as in order to keep their heads above water; there is an “insidious shift in power from editorial teams to advertising brands”. (Collins, 2015) Collins notes the fashion journalism in these magazines is fast moving towards a public relations form of writing. Therefore, bloggers automatically have a level of trustworthiness with their audiences, as they were not solely focused on selling a product and are usually personalized to one author who is the “face” of the blog. (Collins, 2015) However recently fashion bloggers have become highly successful in the industry, prompting fashion companies to take notice. Successful fashion bloggers now make the majority of their revenue solely on advertising products. (Collins, 2015) Blogging has become the new platform for ‘stealth advertising’ by exploiting the ethos of successful fashion bloggers. Therefore though very different, both magazines and blogs have considerable flaws when questioning the reliability of content on both of these platforms.
Aspiring fashion journalists:
The incorporation of digitalisation in the industry has aspiring journalist in frenzy; leaving those wishing to enter fashion journalism questioning whether a degree in journalism is the right path when thousands of successful fashion bloggers have no such accreditations. Bachelor of Fashion Journalism graduate Josephine Collins states in an article for The Conversation that fashion blogging is posing a threat to journalist working in the same field, forcing them to “up their game”. (Collins, 2014) Collins notes however that there is a difference between amateur bloggers and professional ones. Stating that professional bloggers, similar to educated journalists, are articulate and are highly proficient in what they write about. These select bloggers are either loaded with experience, a degree, or both. She states that bloggers are not a different species to traditional journalist, but simply have evolved to work with the times. She notes, “It is not only fashion writing that has been transformed, but also how we consume it.” (Collins, 2014) Therefore it can be concluded that bloggers have not eliminated the need for professional fashion journalists but rather demonstrated the need for journalists to have more specialized understanding of fashion that an amateur will not possess. Overall, though blogs have caused an increase in competition for jobs in the industry, it has not completely eradicated the need for professional journalists.
Sound cloud Clip: Shannon Bay-Jesperson M.A. in Journalism comments on the impact of blogs on journalism graduates.
Overall, fashion blogging has become a prominent element of the fashion industry, challenging traditional forms of fashion journalism. Whether amateur journalism should be embraced or rejected due to the many advantages and disadvantages, as technology develops so too will web based journalism in the fashion industry.
Infographic Statistics sourced from:
(Strugatz, 2011), (Statista, 2013), (Academy of Art University, 2011), (Sherman, 2015)
All photos, video and audio done myself
Aboulhosn, N. (2015). Nadia Aboulhosn Boohoo Capsule Collection. Retrieved 5 17, 2015, from Nadia Aboulhosn: http://www.nadiaaboulhosn.com/2015/03/nadia-aboulhosn-boohoo-capsule.html
Academy of Art University. (2011). Vogue is the Top Selling Fashion Magazine. Retrieved 5 21, 2015, from Fashion School Daily: http://www.fashionschooldaily.com/index.php/2011/08/12/vogue-is-the-top-selling-fashion-magazine/
Burcz, C. (2012). The Most Important Moments In Fashion Blogging History. Retrieved 5 20, 2015, from Independent Fashion Bloggers: http://heartifb.com/2012/07/12/the-most-important-moments-in-fashion-blogging-history/
Business Insider. (2011). The Fashion Blogs Are Beating Vogue At Online Influence. Retrieved 5 20, 2015, from Bussiness Insider Australia: http://www.businessinsider.com.au/the-fashion-blogs-who-are-beating-vogue-at-online-influence-2011-7
Collins, J. (2014). Fashion bloggers force journalists to up their game. Retrieved 5 12, 2015, from The Conversation: http://theconversation.com/fashion-bloggers-force-journalists-to-up-their-game-23060
Collins, J. (2015). If you think newspapers are losing their credibility, take a look at fashion magazines. Retrieved 5 23, 2015, from The Conversation: http://theconversation.com/if-you-think-newspapers-are-losing-their-credibility-take-a-look-at-fashion-magazines-37947
Dazed Digital . (2014). Top fashion bloggers now earn six-figure salaries. Retrieved 5 24, 2015, from Dazed Digital: http://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/article/20285/1/top-fashion-bloggers-are-earning-six-figure-salaries
Ng, E. (2015). The Battle of Fashion Bloggers & Editors. Retrieved 5 23, 2015, from The Fashion Globe Magazine: http://www.thefashionglobe.com/fashion-magazines-vs-blogs
Phelan, H. (2013). HOW PERSONAL STYLE BLOGGERS ARE RAKING IN MILLIONS. Retrieved 5 21, 2015, from Fashionista: http://fashionista.com/2013/08/how-personal-style-bloggers-are-raking-in-millions#1)
Sherman, L. (2015). THE 20 MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSONAL STYLE BLOGGERS RIGHT NOW. Retrieved 5 12, 2015, from Fashionista: http://fashionista.com/2015/02/most-influential-style-bloggers-2015
Statista. (2013). Number of advertising pages in Vogue from 2006 to 2013. Retrieved 5 25, 2015, from Statista: http://www.statista.com/statistics/197904/advertising-pages-in-vogue-since-2006/
Strugatz, R. (2011). Hot Fashion Bloggers. Retrieved 5 17, 2015, from WWD: http://wwd.com/globe-news/digital/the-bloggers-who-matter-5362245/
Twitter/BryanBoy. (n.d.). BryanBoy. Retrieved 5 21, 2015, from Twitter: https://twitter.com/bryanboy)
Yambao, B. (2009). A Place in Fashion History. Retrieved 5 19, 2015, from BryanBoy: http://www.bryanboy.com/bryanboy_le_superstar_fab/2009/09/a-place-in-fashion-history.html
Yambao, B. (2015). Fashion Blogger BryanBoy. Retrieved 5 19, 2015, from BryanBoy: http://www.bryanboy.com