One of the things I find lots of pleasure in is shattering stereotypes, in life generally and in my current incarnation as a fashion blogger. Besides stereotypes I’ve witnessed while encountering with designers and PR people , I recently noticed a certain pattern that keeps coming across in the press. It started few years ago when fashion bloggers began covering New York fashion week, continued with the FTC and blogging ethics buzz last year, and most recently came to a climax with the coverage of the growing influence of fashion bloggers in the mainstream press.
All these mentions created some sort of a portrait, that many of the industry people have in their minds when they think about fashion bloggers. I feel this portrait shows one very narrow point of view, while the reality as many of us know it, is much more diverse. Living in NYC and being lucky to know personally a pretty large number of bloggers I noticed all of us come to blogging from different backgrounds, for different reasons and while we do share one similar passion, the way we live it varies from one to another.
While blogging is evolving as a business and profession for many of us, I think it’s important to recognize the differences between various groups of individuals in the fashion blogging landscape and avoid the very comfortable stereotyped thinking, especially if your job is to create and manage online media relationships for a designer or brand.
Here are the 10 most common stereotyped statements about fashion bloggers could be found:
- Fashion bloggers are teenagers or people in their 20s. From some reason most of the bloggers that get press attention these days are pretty young – from 13 years old Tavi to 18 year old Jane Aldridge – these are the names we keep seeing in the mainstream press, but the truth is there are many bloggers in their 30s and 40s who rarely get the spotlight.
- Fashion bloggers are skinny, tall and picture perfect. It might seem to the outsider that most successful bloggers are models who never made it. They are pretty enough to post their own editorial style photos, they are skinny, and sometimes even model-esque tall. One look at the homepage of sites like Weardrobe or Chicktopia is enough to get an idea of the stereotype. The fact is we all come in different shapes and sizes, and that’s why I applaud my friends like StyleIT, who recently started posting her daily looks in a special column called On The Plus Side.
- Fashion bloggers are loud and eccentric. Some of the fashion bloggers do have loud and “out there” personalities, but many are also strictly business people, with backgrounds in everything from marketing to finance.
- Fashion bloggers are ego driven and attention seeking. Not every fashion blogger is a subject of their own posts. Most of us actually invest lots of energy in covering the industry, designers, trends and everything that’s happening outside our own persona. We do it because of sincere interest in the industry, we spend our own time and money covering events, researching subjects and looking for inspiration, just like reporters do.
- Fashion bloggers do it mostly for free swag. I’m not saying that some of us don’t have free products and clothes on their agenda, and I’ve also seen “cloggers” who fight for goodies at various industry events. BUT I know for the majority of us it’s just a nice bonus, and when it’s given we politely accept it (and disclose, of course).
- Fashion bloggers write from home, mostly in their pajamas. As funny as it sounds in 2010, I recently met a fashion designer who seriously asked me this question. When I replied that I have an office where I blog wearing more than a pajama, he was genuinely surprised. Sure, some of us blog from home or home office, but the image of the pajama wearing blogger doesn’t make a justice to many of us who are doing it professionally.
- Fashion bloggers love coupons, sales and discounts. While some of the blogs out there are shopping and savings oriented, majority of the fashion blogs are similar to the magazines in the sense that they are looking for newsworthy or inspirational content, and coupons aren’t one of them. Besides that, recession created a serious overload of sale events, and just because you decided to discount your merchandise by 10% on Tuesdays, it doesn’t mean every blogger “would love to share it with their readers”.
- Fashion bloggers love any promotional events, especially those with free cocktails and gift bags. Sometimes I’m surprised by many PR pitches assuming how little it would take to get bloggers to their event. They might not realize that in the city like New York these days bloggers are invited to cover several events every night, and they must be very creative and engaging to get bloggers’ attention. They must build a personal connection first. Sorry, but free champagne and goodie bags just don’t cut it anymore.
- Fashion bloggers are amateurs who don’t have appropriate degree or education. While not all of the bloggers have the fashion or journalism degree, some have relevant industry experience, or similar degree in communications or media. Many bloggers I know are actually working in the industry in various capacities and blog in addition to their jobs.
- Fashion bloggers don’t use judgment, common sense or ethics before publishing content. Yes, bloggers aren’t professional journalists, but this doesn’t mean they don’t use common sense when cover news, collections or events. They are driven a lot by their personal opinions, which is much more risky for a brand than any “objective” mainstream coverage, but on the other hand the reward is much higher. When influential bloggers personally rave about a collection or a product, consumers trust them.
So why do most fashion brands still fear building closer relationships with bloggers?…