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MEDIA STUDIES: The impact of new media on the fashion industry was the topic of conversation at a panel discussion hosted by the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund on Thursday evening at the Times Center. With the ever-burgeoning significance of Facebook, Twitter, viral videos and blogs, bottom-up media is having a major influence on trends and the relationship between brands and consumers, noted Stuart Elliott, the advertising columnist for The New York Times. “It’s not just about seeing what Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar tells you is in style, you yourself — whether you live in Detroit or Kookamunga — can create a look, and everyone on planet Earth can read your blog and what you have to say,” he related to an audience of mostly students from Parsons, FIT, LIM and other area colleges.

Tavi — the 13-year-old fashion blogger dubbed “the reincarnation of Coco Chanel” by panelist Abe Gurko, founder of — was held up as an examplar of the Internet’s ascendency in the realm of fashion media.

The once-exclusive club of fashion prognosticators can be crashed by anyone with a computer and modem today, but designer Brian Reyes said he enjoyed the democratization of style criticism. “I like reading blogs and what people have to say, whether it’s good or bad,” he noted. “One thing that someone said to me was that you’re never going to please everyone. If you are looking to get a compliment every time you read a blog, then you’re just silly.”

Alex Gonzalez, co-founder of ad agency AR New York, emphasized the importance of creating “the soul of a brand” before jumping into new media initiatives. “Young designers get trapped by ‘How do I manipulate the Web to get my name out there?’” he said. “But without the talent and passion, there’s nothing there.”

Other panelists included photographer Patrick McMullan, Nylon style director Dani Stahl and celebrity stylist Annabel Tollman, with the conversation moderated by Mary Alice Stephenson, a contributing editor at Harper’s Bazaar.

The YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund will hold its annual awards dinner on Jan. 13 in New York, honoring Margarita Arriagada, senior vice president of merchandising at Sephora; Thomas Kingsbury, president and chief executive of Burlington Coat Factory, and Robert Mettler, former chairman and ceo of Macy’s West.

— David Lipke


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