Six figure incomes, millions of followers, collaborations with massive brands – this is what fashion blogging has become. Words and photos posted to websites are now capable of netting incomes beyond those of Wall Street powerhouses; the elusive and prevailing women of the blogosphere are taking the reigns of an entirely new era in the fashion industry. Brand collaborations and campaigns – what was once a job strictly for top models – has been handed over to the faces of blogs. Chanel, Marc Jacobs, and Louis Vuitton have caught on to the wave of change, New York and Paris Fashion Weeks have roped off front row seats, and social media has collapsed under the force of fashion bloggers. So, is this a trend that will pass in time, or are we looking at the future of the fashion industry? Young women from across the world are coming out from behind their computer screens to claim their place in the forefront of change – a hobby turned lucrative career. It would seem that this is only just the beginning.
The prevalence of social media in today’s culture has prompted a shift in the way we use sites like Instagram. No longer are photos just for fun: social media capital is now used as a way to sell brands, products, and images. Bloggers were some of the first users on Instagram to take advantage of the “hashtag,” honing in on their niche markets. Julia Weber, founder of Virgin Territory, a fashion blog that displays her chic and affordable style, has been actively posting to her site for the last year. In that time, she has acquired a considerable social media fan base, which led to the start of her own fashion line, Dazey Clothing. “Someone might stumble upon my Instagram and become interested in my style; from there they can go to my blog and get to know my thoughts and passions. Making a connection with someone because of the blog is something that I find really unique.”
With the success and popularity of fashion bloggers growing each day, it was only a matter of time before talent and modeling agencies took a bite out of their growing popularity. Leandra Medine of The Man Repeller was one of the first notable fashion bloggers to sign with an agency – CAA. (CAA reps major names in Hollywood – Kanye West, Tom Cruise, and Nicole Kidman, to name a few.) Leandra’s site, The Man Repeller, has catapulted her into fashion industry fame. She now sits front row during New York Fashion Week, has honed collaborations with brands like Michael Kors and Calvin Klein, landed on Forbes’ “Top 30 Under 30” as one of 2012’s “most influential trendsetters” and published her own book, Man Repeller: Seeking Love. Finding Overalls. Her massive success came shortly after signing with CAA, and prompted the beginning of Digital Brand Architects – a boutique agency that represents digital talent such as Aimee Song of Song of Style and Kelly Framel of the Glamourai. Not only have these agencies allowed bloggers to craft an occupation out of what was once a pastime, but many of them are now pulling in six-figure incomes. Vanessa Flaherty, Vice President of Brand Development at DBA explains, “A blogger with a bigger audience and prominent persona, she will make the bulk of her income from partnerships.”
Major names within the industry such as Chanel, Mulberry, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, and Dolce & Gabbana have tapped into the blogosphere by pulling bloggers from their online platforms and placing them in ad campaigns and in the front rows of fashion shows around the world. Zanita Whittington, founder of Zanita.com, was tapped by Louis Vuitton to fly to Paris from her home base in Sydney, Australia to gain insight into the brand. Zanita, along with blogger Nicole Warne, was given the chance to utilize the LV collections for a photo shoot, that would then go on to become a social media campaign for the brand. “When [brands] contact bloggers, a huge part of [their interest] is getting involved with the social media side of things,” Zanita explains. The collaboration with Louis Vuitton landed Zanita on the cover of Lucky Magazine in February of 2015 alongside fellow bloggers Nicole Warne and Chiara Ferragni. In addition to that, Zanita has now graced many other magazine covers, appeared on reality shows, and has become a figurehead that aspiring bloggers look up to. “I don’t really see [blogging] slowing down. The internet is really the dominant form of media these days and the way that people communicate is all online and through social media… More recently, blog content has shifted from style diaries to giving a lot of insight into real life. So many bloggers are diversifying the kind of content that they’re producing because everything is constantly evolving in that sense.”
Most of the content that we consume, whether it is news or gossip, comes from the internet. With that content now evolving into quick blurbs on social media, the speed at which we’re indulging has increased rapidly. Fast Fashion falls into this category – brands like Forever 21 and H&M have taken on sizable roles in social media: scouting talent and showcasing their products on Instagram has become the norm. Fashion bloggers are producing a continuous stream of content for their sites, which brands latch onto in an effort to increase the visibility of their newfound digital platforms. Collaborations in the form of social media blasts as well as sponsored posts on blogs, many of which are clearly marked as “Sponsored,” are ever-prevalent. It is these collaborations that make an income possible for bloggers, as they are paid to promote brands based off of their reach and the analytics of their sites. Zanita, although making a living off of her blog, warns aspiring bloggers, “You can’t start your blog with the goal of making money. The whole point of a blog is being unique and showing your true self. Whether or not you gain notoriety from that is out of your hands.” Sharing in the same sentiment, Julia advises, “Stay true to yourself and don’t compare yourself to others. Simply focus on your own personal growth and get to work.”
The perfect example of said uniqueness is Tavi Gevinson. Tavi created a fashion blog at the tender age of eleven-years-old, which showcased her inimitable, whimsical style. It didn’t take long before her blog, Style Rookie, was drawing in nearly 30,000 views per day, gaining the attention of dozens of brands and fashion elites. Tavi took her newfound fame within the fashion industry and, at the age of fifteen, with the help of her parents, founded Rookie Magazine – a website that focused on teenage issues, written mainly by teenage girls. The online magazine became such a success that three hard issues, Rookie Yearbook 1, 2, and 3, were published for purchase. Tavi has since gone on to star in film and on Broadway, proving that success from a blog can come in many forms.
A female-dominated industry, fashion blogging has done more than just display pretty clothing on pretty women. Fashion bloggers very rarely find the need or have the time to photoshop the images on their sites. Sometimes, the photos reflect and embrace imperfections; a whispered chant of encouragement for readers to celebrate their flaws. Blogger Dana Suchow of Do The Hotpants says that it is her “ongoing mission to lift the veil that is currently suffocating women” by publishing a post to her site titled “Photos That I Wish I Hadn’t Photoshopped.” The post included before and after retouched photos, offering inspiration and encouragement to other women. “I think that these female bloggers, they have these big personalities and they get other females very dedicated to them… Women create an emotional connection,” says Zanita.
Forging an emotional connection by way of a fashion blog may not always be easy, but it has allowed bloggers a larger than life role in the fashion industry. Rosalind Jana, the voice behind Clothes, Cameras, and Coffee, hails from a small countryside town in Britain where she says Vogue could only be purchased at “secondhand charity shops”. However her small town would inspire the style that launched her career. She eventually found her name on the pages of what was once one of her main sources of secondhand inspiration. In 2011, Rosalind received word that she had won The Vogue Talent Contest – a coveted achievement that comes with a prize of one month’s paid work experience at the magazine. Aside from blogging, Rosalind currently studies English Literature at Oxford University and is writing a dissertation that combines her love of literature and fashion. “I could write pages on this, but ultimately, on a very personal level, they’re both forms of communication and conversation – of messages that can be read, misinterpreted, changed and seen anew.” In 2016, Rosalind will publish Notes on Being Teenage, a semi-autobiographical non-fiction book, which she describes as “covering everything from style to body image, friends, family and relationships to mental health. It’s a mix of observation, advice and the odd anecdote.”
When you strip away the glitz and glam of the fashion blogger, one thing is clear: creativity and aspirations are the path to success. So long as the uniqueness of a blogger remains strong, large brands are going to want their fresh talent. The voice of a blogger has shifted from simply subjective to an opinion that alters the way that young people shop – making their presence extremely vital to brands. Their impact has gone beyond that of just fashion to lifestyle and influencing culture at large. Bloggers are not going anywhere, and that appears to be the way that we want it.
Article by Jessica Natale for The Untitled Magazine’s #GirlPower Issue
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