When Vogue published something of a "blogger takedown" for their Milan Fashion Week overview, calling out "pathetic" street style stars for essentially "heralding the death of style" (and consequently igniting a blogger backlash), the entire fashion industry was shaken (Singer). Street style itself is surely different than it used to be with swarms of photographers lining the streets of shows and bloggers willfully being led into oncoming traffic for the perfect shot. But to acknowledge that street style is different without acknowledging that the industry itself is different is just plain untrue — and unfair.
In 2008, street style was becoming its own show at Fashion Week. Fast-forward nine years later, and it is the show at Fashion Week, first with bloggers chronicling their outfits, now with street style photographers doing it for them. For fashion fans who are not buying off the runway, this is what matters; they want to see a woman who dressed herself, going to the shows, looking stylish, who would inspire an outfit or two (Aghajanian). Women who follow bloggers like Danielle Bernstein of WeWoreWhat and Aimee Song of Song of Style feel like they are gaining access to an industry that was once guarded by an elite circle of insiders. But it's gone so much further than that.
Bloggers are running businesses — “legit businesses that today go beyond their outfit 'grams” (Noricks 58). They're leveraging their personal style as consultants, designers, and brand ambassadors. With that comes business obligations: product placement, events, turning up in the front row, and smiling for pictures. Their celebrity status goes beyond their own accounts and their own photos; they are being tapped by major brands to sell clothes in real time. To put into perspective, reigning blogger and fashion designer, Chiara Ferragni of The Blonde Salad made a whopping $1 million in instagram adds alone and a combined $8.5 million from her footwear line (Henderson). Despite any romanticizing of the runway, fashion is a business, and selling clothes matters.
To that point, why would a brand seat an editor front row to review a collection when they could seat a blogger wearing the collection, to be photographed and shared with their hundreds of thousands of followers? That's just good business (Ziv 143). If fashion editors are grappling with that, let that be the issue, but don't blame the bloggers.
Fashion bloggers play a completely different role to editors. Their jobs might be luxurious and privileged on picture but the hard work they’ve put into it for years before must be acknowledged. The style icon sensations they become cannot simply just happen overnight. Each one has built a unique brand, a persona that embodies their style, their interests. What they work on 44 weeks in a year is showcased in at most 8 weeks during fashion week as a part of content creation and brand relationships (Brogan). These chic ladies and gentle man are “merely doing the more overt equivalent of that editorial-credit system”. It’s extraordinarily insulting to suggest bloggers don’t work hard for their position. Most bloggers merely start out with a bluetooth camera attempting to take their own photos. Yet they have expanded to creating their own website, engaging social media followers, and so much more.
Just as fashion bloggers are a brand, Vogue is one, too. It’s quite disappointing that the home of couture dresses, creative innovation and fashion galore published such an article. While these thoughts were never explicitly stated in the past, the select few jealous editors burst the bubble. They forget that the runway is unobtainable for 99.9% of the world with couture dresses starting at $5,000. For most, the only experience of the latest fashion designs will be in the trickle-down version produced for the budget-friendly high street (Adams). This is how the fashion cycle works – and magazines have played a huge role as gatekeepers. And while the rest of the world only sees those designer pieces from the runway that magazine editors chose to include, fashion bloggers have worked around this filter, by publicizing the looks from the shows they choose and by wearing borrowed (or gifted or purchased) garments from the show.
Maybe it's not a loss of authenticity. On some level, the fashion industry has always been contrived – a series of ad sales and product placements dictated by editor relationships, powerful PR houses, and big brands (Watkins) — but it all happens behind closed doors. Bloggers are not killing street style, they are not out to destroy fashion as we know it, though they are absolutely changing it. What they are doing is making it overwhelmingly more transparent. For followers, the bloggers provide a window into something you might never see otherwise: a front row of a runway you love, the ability to buy a head-to-toe outfit your favorite style star wore on the street and more. For someone in the industry, understandably, that's a big change; it hits them over the head when the front row is packed with influencers instead of editors or when they are fighting their way through photographer crowds and parades of bloggers just to get to your next show. It has a very real impact on your person, not just your place in the industry, and all of it can be exhausting. Does that make it right to be a bully?
I tend to agree with Leandra Medine, who penned a thoughtful response to Vogue's blogger critique, aptly entitled, "Fashion Bloggers Aren't the Problem." "We are lucky in that we have access to so much information, but are perhaps unlucky in that we haven't figured out what to do with all of it yet. This is particularly true in fashion, and with street style photos," she concluded (Medine). Could it be that simple? Yes, it just might be. I am lucky to have a flood of outfit inspiration on our feeds from well-dressed men and women all over the planet on days when we can't even fathom fashioning a cute outfit. I scroll religiously through my phone nightly to help inspire my outfit planning. As a blogger and a fashion lover, I rely on those same women to supply examples of how to stylishly wear trends. And at the end of the day, they are pretty damn good at what they do.