In The Times' Saturday magazine last weekend, new fashion editor, Laura Craik squeezed into a designer dress, climbed into a pair of towering high heels and took centre stage in her own feature. These days, she said, fashion editors don't have much choice but to get in front of the camera and model the products themselves and this is thanks largely to fashion bloggers, who, "without a budget, created their own visual content" and made their blogs "all the more compelling for it."
Editors and traditional publishing outlets have been trying to harness the power of the blog for a while now - by forcing their writers to step into the limelight, by launching their own blogs and by inviting bloggers to write for them - but brands too are actively courting bloggers in their attempt to extend and add value to their publicity.
Recently, Hunter Wellies invited fashion blogger Liberty London Girl to front its Autumn/Winter 2011 campaign, blogger Bip Ling became the new face of fashion brand Forever 21 and Nicola Clark, Head of Features at Marketing Magazine, wrote a feature on why M&S needs fashion bloggers, whose "accessible looks, modelled on real people" offer "a far more tangible and healthy image to consumers."
Bloggers operate outside of the traditional sphere of publishing, are unencumbered by its traditional ties and demands, but are increasingly party to all the traditional benefits. Front row seats at London Fashion Week shows? Tick. Free press trips and samples? Tick. Story exclusives? Tick. And the fact that they don't feel obliged to be nice about any of it is what makes their opinions so valuable.
"Brands who want to work with bloggers have to accept the rough with the smooth," says Jane Cunningham a.k.a British Beauty Blogger, who comments, "if you produce a poor, over-rated product that isn't worth the money then you can expect a review that reflects that. It's really up to the brand to try harder and realise that they just can't get away with real doozies any more without someone noticing."
With brands and PRs falling over themselves for a favourable word or two in the blogosphere and fashion editors scrambling to copy the hyper-personal, understyled and honest approach of bloggers, it feels like everything has been turned on its head. This has been great for the consumer, who is better informed than ever, but magazines and brands should be careful about embracing the blogger trademark too fully. Reality and authenticity are all very well, but sometimes escapism and aspiration are just fine too.
The Good Web Guide (www.thegoodwebguide.co.uk) has just launched a weekly Guest Blogger spot on its own blog. If you are interested in writing a guest blog for The Good Web Guide, please get in touch.
Follow Emily Jenkinson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/thegoodwebguide