How Fashion Blogs Are Indy… And Not So Indy

by Isabel Braverman

In recent years there has been a trend in fashion, and I’m not talking about high-waisted jeans or giant platform heels. This trend is supplemental to one we have seen in the media world where editor’s are asking the question “to go online or not to go online?”

While fashion magazines have branched out and added online components, there is another aspect of online fashion that has seen an even bigger audience—style blogs. These blogs are akin to citizen journalism. The style lovers who run them are not a part of the fashion industry or even professional writers or photographers. But that doesn’t stop them from styling their own shoots and writing short accompanying posts with them.

In a New York Times’ article, Géraldine Dormoy, the online fashion editor for the French magazine L’Express said, “Fashion is one of the few fields which accepts people with little formal training. Through these blogs, these young girls show their ability to work as stylists or photographers.”

Young is the key word in Dormoy’s statement. While the style blogs may differ in content they all have one thing in common—a young age, usually in the teen or early twenties range. The reason for this is the same as all other forms of online media, the Internet is catered toward the younger set in that it is new and difficult for older people to accept and learn how to use.

These young bloggers are not intimidated by the fiercely intimidating world of the fashion industry. In fact, they have taken it by storm and are landing Fashion Week invitations and creating their own clothing lines. But the question remains, what gives them the credit to serve as mini Anna Wintours?

In the same New York Times’ article, James Pollock, executive online editor of Brant Publications, which publishes art magazines and Interview, the pop culture magazine founded by Andy Warhol, had this to say, “Fashion is subjective. There are very respected fashion journalists that can evaluate the state of the market. However I don’t see how a fashion editor’s perspective on a Prada shoe is more valid than that of a teen blogger in Evanston, Illinois.”

These teen bloggers from Illinois started out with a blog completely of their own doing—they were independent journalists. However, things change. As their blogs grew in popularity they were sought out by advertisers. Among their pages of personal style photos can be found multiple advertisements. They’re still indy though, one can have ads and be an independent. However, it was when I see the blatant (even though they try to cover it up) endorsement of products or brands that they were paid to put on their site that I don’t consider them so indy.

For example, Rumi Neely of Fashion Toast was named one of the faces of clothing line Forever 21. After the announcement, she inexplicably started wearing more Forever 21 in her personal style posts, hmmm. On the same blog and in many others, they are seen wearing clothing that was sent as a gift from a designer. Sounds like a cheap ploy to get free advertising. Now, instead of making shirts that say “GAP” you can just send a GAP shirt to a blogger. Like I said before, everything is moving online.

In October of 2009 the Federal Trade Commission announced that bloggers must disclose if they received free merchandise or payment for their product reviews. As it said in this New York Times’ article, “This bothered some bloggers, and reasonably so, since magazine editors commonly receive stockpiles of the same expensive goodies to review in their pages, and that practice is rarely disclosed even though magazines are beholden to advertisers for their livelihood.”

I applaud fashion bloggers (I for one frequent their sites) and all that they have to offer. I just don’t want them to become yet another form of media that is bogged down by advertisers and so blatantly endorses their products.