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It is a sign of the times when anyone with a computer and something to say can attract the attention of designers such as Marc Jacobs or the Mulleavy sisters of Rodarte and inspire a bag or be seated in the front row of a fashion show.
Forget the B-, C- and even Z-list actresses who populated the New York shows over the last few seasons. The new celebrities are the fashion bloggers, who are courted, coddled and charmed like never before. And in perhaps a true sign of their status, they’re complaining about all the attention — even as many of them are moving beyond their blogs with deals, sponsorships and real jobs.
At Rodarte, 13-year-old blogger Tavi Gevinson of Style Rookie and her mother, Berit Engem, were besieged by the paparazzi and camera crews the second the show was over, while Kirsten Dunst walked through the crowd relatively unaccosted.
Two years ago, bloggers vociferously protested they were being ignored by the fashion world and couldn’t get into major shows. This time round, they’re being invited to any show they want, and this past weekend two conferences were held for fashion bloggers to discuss blogging.
The shift began last year. For the first time, bloggers were seated in the front row, and Jacobs named an ostrich bag the BB after blogger Bryanboy — and sent him the sample. Gevinson inspired Rodarte’s collection for Target. Dolce & Gabbana last September put major retailers, including Burt Tansky of Neiman Marcus, in the second row to make room for six bloggers. A mini uproar, at least in the press, broke out in Paris at the couture shows in January when an editor at Grazia tweeted Tavi’s hat was blocking the view at Dior. The press declared it was war between editors and bloggers, and revisited the controversy about bloggers accepting gifts (a standard practice at fashion magazines, although the Federal Communications Commission now requires bloggers to admit when they’ve received gifts or been paid to write about something).
Gevinson is now a correspondent for Pop Magazine and has reportedly been approached about a reality TV show and a book; Jane Aldridge, the 17-year-old Texas debutante who writes Sea of Shoes, designed a capsule collection for Urban Outfitters; London-based 25-year-old Susie Lau of Susie Bubble, one of the earliest personal style blogs, is now an editor at Dazed & Confused; San Franciscan Liz Cherkasova of Late Afternoon has modeled for American Apparel, Nasty Gal Vintage and Tobi, and Krystal Simpson of What Is Reality Anyway, has guest designed for Quiksilver.
“It’s given my life a lot of direction that it didn’t have before, but I started when I was very young,” said Aldridge, who was in the audience at the Chictopia blogger conference Saturday. “I’m very grateful for the experiences I’ve had. Before I started blogging, I didn’t think it was possible to work in fashion, and now I think I probably will.”
She is working on a project that “has to do with a community of fashion bloggers, like a talent agency, that will bring a little order to the way brands and bloggers work together,” she said.
Blogging “has increased the pace fashion moves at,” she said.
Most personal style blogs — and there are hundreds — do not make money. Those that do have at least several hundred thousand visitors a month and a dedicated audience of repeat visitors. More often, bloggers use the blog as a portfolio or platform for sponsorships, deals, collaborations, or jobs in marketing, fashion and media.
“Everything is going to the Internet,” said Naomi Nevitt, a new media consultant, whose clients include Rag & Bone, Pierre Hardy, Balenciaga and Proenza Schouler and who was a panelist at the Chictopia conference. “There are so many different kinds of blogs. Personal style blogs, fashion news blogs, street photo blogs. It really is about designers seeing how important this is, and the ability to circulate this information so quickly is really important. They are starting to notice it. Streaming is huge. I see personal style blogs filling the role of the traditional stylist. Just in the way a [public relations] company will lend out an item to shoot to a magazine, it’s that way for a personal style blog showing how this item can exist in people’s wardrobes.”
Even as the fashion world rushes to embrace them, though, not all bloggers are happy with the attention. At a conference put on Monday by the group Independent Fashion Bloggers, which has more than 6,000 members, a panel of some of the best-known bloggers decried the hype about blogging.
“We’re focusing on bloggers as freak beings, which I find a little offensive,” said Lau. “They’re one strand of media. Magazines are another strand.”
“A lot of the fuss is made up,” said Britt Aboutaleb of fashion news blog Fashionista. “We’re all at the shows together, and Vogue is there, too, and no one’s unhappy and she didn’t steal my seat. There’s room for everyone, everybody who wants to have a voice. The more, the merrier.”