Fashion Bloggers Selling Out

The fashion bloggers interviewed for this article unanimously expressed their desire to be judged only for what they set out to do—and to not be held to the same standards as journalists. “I do not see myself as a journalist,” Bryan Boy insists. “At the end of the day, it’s just a diary.”

Susanna Lau of Style Bubble agrees: “The media thinks that bloggers are trying to be authority figures—when it’s just a girl in her bedroom, trying to put herself out there with the things she likes.”

But even with full disclosure, editors, writers and experienced bloggers expressed concern over whether new style bloggers could separate their newfound access from objectivity. “The problem is that so far the younger bloggers have not been able to resist all of this attention—to be a part of this article and sit in the front row,” says The New York Times’ fashion critic Cathy Horyn. “And I don’t know how effective you can be sometimes with that if you’re just coming in as a newcomer and you’re wowed by the glamour and the fun of it.”

And while bloggers have accelerated the metabolism of the fashion industry, many of the top bloggers know they may soon be over. “It’s going to thin out in a couple of years,” Grechen Cohen says. “So many things change from your early 20s to your 30s.” For many, that means going mainstream—to magazines. One designer suggested that this generation of bloggers is destined to be “the future editors of America” because they’re “the only ones who are going to know how a magazine can be a real-time dialogue.”

Brian Phillips of Black Frame agrees: “There are flashes in the pan, and they matter for a minute,” he says. “But I find it more interesting who can parlay their platform into a bigger platform. The only ones that can do that are the ones who can write, can capture the zeitgeist—and can describe it in a unique way that other people can internalize.”

Yet Robin Givhan, The Washington Post’s fashion critic, is skeptical of whether bloggers can make the leap. “I don’t know if they will evolve into the standard bearers in the industry,” she says. “I don’t know if they’ll adopt the standards the mainstream media has—or if they’ll just change those standards.”

Bryan Boy admits he’s not sure he’ll have longevity. “I don’t think I’m going to be in the front row for the rest of my life,” he says. “It could go away at any second. So why should I stop myself from saying what I want, when everything could be taken away from me?”

All of these projects advance while bloggers continue doing what they do best: writing about what they like. While the Federal Trade Commission dictates a policy of full-disclosure to bloggers where there are conflicts of interest, they have long been criticized by print journalists for receiving gifts and engaging in other free or incentivized projects. But many bloggers assert that there exists an unfair double standard, and that editors at glossy magazines enjoy similar perks.

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