The fashion industry is no longer solely governed by magazine/editorial editors. Today’s fashion week front rows reside a large majority of fashion bloggers and/or influencers. Fashion week, the four weeks where fashion’s elite travel from New York to London to Milan to Paris, marked the “moment when style blogging as a genre first moved from its position on the fringes of fashion media to being invited to sit alongside the industry tastemakers” (Findlay). A week that was previously only experienced by the upper echelons of celebrity has made room for a “new class of runway fashion spectators: smartphone wielding, Nikon-toting, java-sipping Millennials known as fashion bloggers” (Alexandre). Just as much as Fashion Week is about the fashion, it’s also heavily dependent on the guest list in attendance. The rise of the fashion “influencer” and in turn the “new celebrity” (Alexandre) has completely changed the landscape of the industry.
The rise of these players has been met with combatting tension from the “old” players, “attacking this new crowd as posers and unprofessional nuisances who clutter the shows with their cameras and sponsored gear” (Alexandre). However, it is important to note that these supposed posers did not just get here from a walk-in invitation. They worked hard to get where they are. The blogger alone will “bring a tripod and camera to places where most would rather be caught dead with such gear (vloggers), record a YouTube video anywhere at anytime regardless of the judgmental looks, and will squeeze into her seat and give you the best runway play-by-play because she’s one of us, sitting amongst all of them, and she’s letting us share her seat in the front row ” (Alexandre). The authenticity and unique perspective bloggers share are just two of many important characteristics successful bloggers exude. This naturally begs the question… how exactly have successful bloggers made it big?
The most dominant players took to the social media platforms long before its peak of popularity. The earliest fashion blogs came to fruition in 2001: She She Me (resembling Sex and the City), Primp (concise statements of recommendations), and DFR: Daily Fashion Report (a gossipy critique of the fashion industry’s latest.) Although these precursors bear little resemblance to today’s fashion blogs, they are just as “informal and direct” (Findlay) as the ones we are used to seeing. Blogging back then was not focused on sharing their daily outfits or monthly must-haves. The dialogue was much more invested in wider issues around fashion, which was characterized by long written posts occasionally punctuated by images. Early fashion blogs were essentially much more about writing than images. The rise of style blogs commenced due to the immense number of “forums, social networks, and fashion-based websites frequented by communities interested in fashion and shopping” (Findlay). The major shift (2004-2006) marked the period where the focus transitioned from the person behind the blog and their take on fashion to documentation of their personal style. Bloggers began posing in their photographed images and writing about the expressive nature of fashion.
This initial first wave of blogging focused on the everyday wearability of their outfits, posting photos in their confined environments, which speaks to the sole focus of the blog: the outfits. Because this wave included bloggers taking their own interpretation of the runway, there was a disconnect between bloggers and the industry. Bloggers were very much “amateurs with a keen interest in fashion writing on the sidelines.” 2008-2010 marked the transitional period between first and second wave blogging, where bloggers began finding lucrative opportunities to collaborate with established brands. The distinction between these two waves is not the particular bloggers that became famous but more so, the “ethos underpinning the blog.”
These new bloggers were able to “log on to a field whose conventions had been pioneered and make a profit from it.” The aforementioned “ethos” ties to bloggers’ “ongoing identity performance, where style blogs became a “space for the display of the self as a lived look book.” First-wave blogging can be “characterized by independence, while second-wave style blogging is characterized by aspiration.” It is unfortunate however because with this rising fame of bloggers, readers are valued not for their investment in the readership of the blog but as a “means to a monetized end.” Style blogging has “undergone a rapid transition from a cluster of experimental indie blogs celebrating individuality into a blogosphere where a select few bloggers are routinely granted passes for fashion week, collaborations with luxury labels, and funding just to shoot for their blogs.” The ethos of the fashion blog has transformed from a pure focus on the outfit and fashion of it all to now the persona of the character behind the blog.
These blogger turned influencers have cultivated successful personal brands that are now associated with so much more than a web page. The evolution of digital and social media has garnered greater accessibility of voicing one’s opinion about fashion. Who exactly are these bloggers. Bloggers are individuals who are primarily tied to their website — photo-based or written. Micro blogs consist of 500-10,000 followers, macro blogs have a 10,000 to 1 million reach, and mega blogs have a 1 million+ following. Mega bloggers are usually the individuals most recognizable in the industry, so I will be focusing on their prominence.Chiara Ferragni of The Blonde Salad andEmily Weiss of Into the Gloss have used their blogging career as a launchpad for other endeavors (fashion design and Glossier) Influencers are relevant on many platforms. Currently, the fame of the influencer is rooted in their Instagram relevance. Influencers are mini-niche market celebs. They become their own personal brand, curating not only editorial content but also promoting their lifestyle.“The main difference between bloggers and influencers comes down to their business model. While bloggers curate stylistic editorial content through a personal point of view, influencers are promoting their lifestyle and how products fit into it.”
Further explain society’s reliance on influencers (depend on those like us for valuable insight)The key to success as an Influencer: craft authentic content that tells a compelling story.While a handful of bloggers are considered influencers due to their substantial following, a majority of influencers are not bloggers. Also, not a lot of bloggers become influencers.Influencers have been deemed as “non-credible” sources, wanna-be celebrities.
Conclusion:The world of fashion is just one realm in which social media influencers have penetrated.