The growth of e-commerce and the use of technology as a preferred medium for communication and transaction created the opportunity for the fashion industry to build a personal connection with consumers through the people that know them best. Style bloggers reach a wide community that ideally match fashion brand's target demographic, and as fashion brands make a point of consumer engagement being an integral part of marketing success, more and more brands choose to work with influential fashion bloggers. With a genuine passion, a substantial presence in the social media and a relationship based on integrity with their readers, the collaboration between a brand and a blogger is more than just saving pennies on print marketing. A great collaboration is based on a shared style between both parties and mutual rewards, as GAP, Coach, London's shoe brand SIX, and jewellery designers Tacori and Dannijo already know.
But what is the key to a successful style blog having potential to collaborate with a brand? According to Lauren Tesar of Lifebooker, it is the power of these three: scalability, credibility and flexibility. To expand, in order to propose a collaboration, consider the scale of the project, which would be according to the size of your readership. Secondly, it is your job to keep things professional and engage with your readers, to know the brands that could be interested in working with you. And finally, be prepared to pitch new ideas and take on a challenge! The experience is fun and rewarding, whether it is a financial gain, an opportunity to bag exclusive products or gain exposure.
In November 2011, London brand SIX collaborated with Leandra Medine, the author of a fashion blog advocating trends at the dating end of the fashion spectrum. Her ironically named blog, The Man Repeller and SIX teamed up to design a shoe as radical as Medine's fashion sense - a spiked platform heel she described as 'undergoing acupuncture.' In light of this, she said, 'In the saturated landscape of style bloggers, there are few things more celebrated than scoring a collaboration with a major fashion brand.' The success of the project lead to a collaboration with another high-end brand, Dannijo, the following year in April. Working with the designer jewellery brand also created an alliance with Garance Doré, style photographer and Dannijo's designer Rumi Neely of Fashion Toast. Just from this example, it is clear that working with fashion brands isn't just a one-off experience, but opens opportunities for long-term partnerships, coming face to face with huge names and attracts other brands.
Following a collaboration with fine jewellery designer, Tacori, Wendy's Lookbook host, Wendy Nguyen highlights that benefit just as much as bloggers from the experience: 'Personally, I feel that the fashion blogging community has a lot to offer. We help curate, share trends, and have an intimate connection with our readers.' This is incredibly important for brand authenticity, as blogger's opinions are unbiased, trusted and shared between networks, creating a wide scope for potential customers. Laura Ellner, author of On The Racks, and one of Tacori's sponsored bloggers for its FABB event (Fashion and Beauty Blogger) emphasises that 'when we're introduced to or discover new products on our own, you can bet that we'll share that product with our readers. A mention or endorsement from a blogger can promote awareness among a new audience and generate more sales for the brand.'
In April of this year, Tacori involved bloggers in the celebration of Lucky Magazine's second annual FABB event (Fashion and Beauty Blogger) in Beverly Hills. Meeting Ford models sounds like a treat, however, the real deal was when bloggers shook the stage for Inside Generation Style last year at the Metropolitan Pavilion. The event was hosted by Independent Fashion Bloggers (IFB) and Intel to celebrate fashion technology and blogger influence. Fifteen fashion bloggers worked the runway, carrying Intel-Inspired Ultrabooks™, wearing Norma Kamali's KamaliKulture & Orla Kiely summer trends. The advocacy of technology here highlights that it takes more than writing talent to be a renowned fashion blogger. It takes real know-how to lead with the latest innovations in website upkeep and image editing in order to be the most efficient, eye-catching and updated. One of the fifteen participants, author of Style & Pepper, Jessie Artigue agrees, stating, 'I don't think many tech companies realize that as fashion bloggers (especially those of us who run as small businesses), we are constantly utilizing the latest technology developments to run our sites. Not only are we early (and incredibly engaged) adopters of the latest gadgets/software, but many of us also have loyal followings who are interested in behind-the-scenes peeks at how we keep things running.' It is also noteworthy to emphasise that on this occasion, as the front rowers of style blogs, the ladies are the technology savvies in this area of the fashion industry.
Similarly, Gap's 'Be Bright' campaign involved bloggers styling input to create individual looks infused with personality and colour. Seth Farbman, Gap's Global Chief Marketing Director made a great point about the effectiveness of style bloggers on Styld.by, which were invited for the campaign, including Refinery29 and Lookbook. He said, 'Styld.by is an evolutionary way to take the idea of a traditional catalogue and deliver it in a way that encourages people to engage with it in a place where they're already spending their time, like fashion blogs and music sites.' The campaign had an immense social media presence on Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr, reaching out to the online community and enthusiastic fashionistas on a global scale.
As well as fashion for fashion's sake, Coach, the luxury leather goods brand, used the consumer audience of bloggers to spread awareness of The Poppy Project, which supports women who have been trafficked and brought into England or Wales for exploitation. So, there is a lot of potential for a good cause in collaborating. Hopefully, the future will hold more brand to blogger projects that lead to long-term professional relationships starting with give-aways to sponsorships to joining the design team. Come 2014, bloggers could have brands at their mercy!