I recently read an article in the New York Times fashion supplement The Cuttitled The Golden Era of 'Fashion Blogging' Is Over. The article, written by esteemed veteran fashion writer Robin Givhan suggests that the rise of the smart phone and of course the now almost-worldwide use of the internet has accounted for the mainstream surge that now make up a bulk of the numbers in the once prestigious 'members only' existence of the fashion world. Fashion, much like travel; was once open to but a mere selection of the world's elite. The list accommodated actors, royals (those with a Roman numeral following their name), models, and the rich who holidayed so much that the concept of 'resort wear' (or 'cruise collection' if you like) was created.
But oh how times have changed. Fast forward to 2014, and we're suddenly in an age of budget airlines and smart phones with cameras. These two elements alone distinctively erased much of the shine off of an industry that prides itself on exclusivity. What's exclusive about it now? Anyone who owns a phone and collects a salary is a 'hipster-fashionista. Be in the right place at the right time and you're in. It's like a hurricane level disaster for fashion public relations when those smart enough to know - find that fashion is, well, mostly smoke and mirrors. Where we once felt FOMO (fear of missing out) we now feel bored. We aren't missing anything it seems.
Which brings me to my next point and back to Robin's article. The golden era of fashion blogging IS over. And only some of us will really know what that means. Back when blogging was in its earliest conception in 2002, the first waves of fashion bloggers (myself included) really only established a following or got invited to events from around 2007. It became more serious from then on, until its major decline - in from what I can see and adhere to personally, to be 2012.
Now when I say a decline, I am mostly talking about the original blog set-up, where we were invited to fashion events and reported on the event itself. We'd take actual cameras along and speak to the PR's, and take an interest in the product that was being sold/serviced. I'd come home, look through the notes from the event and try and write a piece that reflected the experience. It was blogging for sure, but it involved a level of research and an integrity and effort to write, and write well. My peers all worked very hard, as did I.
Now, everybody is a blogger. And more so, everyone is, or wants to be a fashion blogger. But its a little late on the uptake. Its an overrun, mostly shallow experience. Blog sites are free to set up, and instagram provides enough filters to make even a horrible day in a horrible place look enticingly original or exciting.
The real winners here are Facebook and Google. Collecting enough content and personal information to satisfy even the fattest appetites of the fattest fat cats.
The day's of the independent blog are over. Those able to take the time, have the money required (and who really want to) make a living out of blogging alone, have turned to management and now operate under slick machine-like marketing, are housed under one url which collects traffic - and in turn, attracts sponsors.
The content of blogging has also changed considerably. In my beginnings, written content ruled, now its about the photolog. The headings 'What I wore today' are filling the net and in my opinion, suffocating us with extreme narcissism. Isn't that what Facebook and Instagram are for? It's fine here and there on the appropriate medium; but do we need it on blogs as well?
I have no problem with great blogs and will be the first one to read an interesting, well thought out and original piece from a respected blogger in the industry. I even enjoy it more if it's witty and satirical. And there are a few, I must be honest. Some are definitely good at what they do and deserve the readerships that follow. Some. But it does appear to me that the blogosphere is now over-crowded with self-interest. There are few that are still focused on fashion itself. I have trolled through many sites lately that are merely diary's of selfies with the underlying tone of being a 'fashion blog' but they really just need a platform to show everyone their latest shoes or haircut. I'm sorry to those I know with photologs - but I'm finding it a little dull. Why would anyone care what you're wearing in 2014 when we have unlimited access to artists, models, actors and designers from all over the world at any given time of day. In saying that, I did used to enjoy some of the street style snaps but even that is now becoming old. And fast. Perhaps its me though, maybe I have seen it all for too long and now have the awareness for something new. But really, where and who is bringing the new?
Fashion is accessible to everyone, which is actually a fantastic thing for us mere mortals. We can feel apart of the action. Unfortunately there is little action now that it is so accessible. That's the catch. Now that the majority of the developed world can enjoy a holiday almost anywhere in the world at any time, season's are even less relevant, which in turn makes autumn/winter and spring/summer less relevant - and less exciting because we aren't waiting on seeing it.
I recently left London in favour of returning home to Sydney and attended an industry talk at Australian Fashion Week with the heads of big retailers ASOS, H&M and Topshop - all now operating in their second biggest markets away from the UK - Australia. My fears of Australia being so far away from the fashion industry were squashed in this single meeting. The majority of the world's wealth (which is the majority of those who are able buy designer fashion) now travel further and more often, so "season's", say the heads - have become less viable. Which makes fashion collections and the catwalks that follow less relevant, and good quality individual products, designed with lifestyles in mind are instead picking up pace. Australia is the second largest fashion-conscious market outside of the UK (and growing). We are happy to buy European designs, Australian designs, wherever designs....so long as there is an intelligent need for them. America is following suit.
I can see the slow death of resort-wear already....a sign of the times. Couture has long been embroiled in debates of cost versus labour and indeed, need.
So where to from here? Recent experience tells me that the industry has become bored of the over-crowding and will cut down on bloggers to re-build its gated fortress; once again focusing on fashion, instead of its self-promoting wearers. Having first worked as a fashion stylist, and then as a blogger for so long, it's a strange thing to say but I hope they do. It is the true testament to my love of fashion. I love it. I always have. So much so that I am willing to once again be an outsider looking in. It's truthfully more fun as a hobby anyway. But posers? well, that's just plain boring.....please bring back the substance!