A Balenciaga and a Blog: The New Fashion Influencers

By Ashley Stainton

The Coveteur, Jak and Jil, Studded Hearts, Garance Dore, A Piece of Toast, Tuula Vintage, Man Repeller and Style by Kling.

These are not the names of trendy clothing stores, designer labels or magazine publications.  They are the popular fashion blogs where Christie Devine, SMU senior and self-proclaimed fashion enthusiast, says she finds style inspiration.

Blogging has taken the fashion world by storm, with fashionistas across the globe embracing this hot, new trend.

Today, fashion consumers do not have to rely on traditional fashion media like Vogue magazine or leading retailers such as Dallas’ own Neiman Marcus for their news and style inspiration.  Independent fashion bloggers – all with different backgrounds and personal tastes – now influence fashion through their blogs.

Allison Edwards, co-creator of the popular fashion and lifestyle blog Where Wear in the City, has witnessed the fashion blogging revolution firsthand.

Photo credit: Where Wear in the City

“Without fashion bloggers and other social media outlets, the fashion world would not ensue the popularity and importance it has on our overall culture,” says Edwards.

Blogging has helped the fashion industry stay relevant.  Today, the 20-something blogger posting personal fashion picks and creating collages of purses, shoes and clothing has become the major player in the fashion industry.

The fashion news cycle, trend forecasting and advertising have all transformed because of blogs, and the impact extends well beyond a blogger’s Internet followers. One reason for this shift can be attributed to the immediacy of the Web, says Krystal Schlegel, SMU graduate and creator of the fashion blog The Style Book.

Photo credit: Krystal Schlegel The Style Book

“It used to take months for the public to see a designer’s collection on the runway because they had to wait until the shows were shown in a magazine,” says Schlegel. “Now bloggers and editors post while at the fashion shows and the collections are visible everywhere.”

Blogging is instantaneous because bloggers have capitalized on the use of Internet and mobile phone uploads to get information posted quickly.  News coverage, including fashion news, has evolved into a 24-hours cycle.

Recently, at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City, bloggers were not only invited to the events, but some were also given access behind the scenes.  Today’s new style of press, which includes bloggers, is going to places “older-style” press did not usually go.  Bloggers provide content that is not only immediate, but also reported from virtually anywhere: on the street, at a fashion show or backstage.

Fashion consumers used to wait for monthly fashion magazines to arrive in the mail to get their fashion fix.  Blogs, in contrast, provided fashion updates as often as bloggers post, says Jacyln Welch creator of the fashion blog Streets of Sparkle.

Photo credit: Streets of Sparkle

“Because fashion bloggers create daily content, the public starts craving more of the moment to moment reporting, which has resulted in fashion publications changing their own digital site, design and approach,” says Welch.

To keep up with independent bloggers, notable fashion businesses and designers have had to produce the same types of instant and constant content through a blog medium.  Saks Fifth Avenue’s “Saks POV,” Seventeen Magazines’ “Seventeen Fashion” and Tory Burch’s “The Tory Blog” are just a few of the companies and designers who have capitalized on this growing trend.

Designers cannot only rely on unveiling their new line on the web anymore.  Now, readers have grown accustomed to active conversations about the fashion pieces along with interactive texts and images, which blogs provide.

“Fashion bloggers created a demand for the everyday girl becoming just as interesting.  We now can see what the whole country is wearing, not just what fashion magazines publish,” says Welch. “Fashion blogging has broadened the public’s awareness of style beyond celebrities, high-end designer editorials and runway.”

According to WordPress, a popular blog creating software, an estimated 4.1 billion new blog pages are posted each month.  In the fashion industry, this impact is seen in the influx of individual styles and voices being expressed by bloggers.  If a blogger is prominent and has a lot of followers, he or she can actually influence what trend becomes popular.

Shelby Foster, SMU senior and creator of the blog The Southernista, says fashion bloggers are just as much a part of setting trends as the designers themselves.  The only difference is that the bloggers often do not produce the content they display and discuss on blogs.

Photo credit: The Southernista

“I would compare fashion bloggers to magazine editors before I would compare them to designers.  Designers produce the clothing the bloggers wear, so that is a different type of relationship,” says Foster.  “Magazine editors used to be the final word in deciding the trends for each season.  Now, bloggers are able to take that task into their own hands and create trends in a more accessible and relatable way to the reader.”

This new, more accessible style can translate into a big payoff for popular bloggers.  The fashion blogging industry brought in an estimated $10 billion last year, according to a report from Kelsey Group, an advertisement forecasting company.  Additionally, the industry is expected to grow 22 percent annually as more advertisers flock to get their product placement on notable blogs.

With sites like rewardStyle – which provides bloggers who are members of the site commissions on items sold on their blogs – bloggers can not only capitalize on advertisements displayed on their pages, but also receive compensation for the products and designers featured in posts.

Fashion blogging – in addition to being a lucrative business for those who gain a larger audience of followers, post often and entice advertisers – has also become a starting point to getting a job in the fashion business.

“Over the years, fashion bloggers have shown that you did not have to wait for the chance to be a part of the industry.  You could put your passions and talents out there, gain as big of following as the larger publications and even make a living doing it,” says Welch of Streets of Sparkle. “It has become the new fashion industry resume and launching pad to getting the job you want.”

Fashion bloggers are a community within a community in the fashion world.  They have changed the industry indefinitely, starting an ongoing conversation about fashion and transforming the way fashion is conveyed to the public.

“Some people read the newspaper. I read blogs,” says Foster of The Southernista. “They serve as a point of inspiration.  It’s enjoyable to catch up with the girls I follow, many of whom I’ve come to be friends with in real life.  I want to see what they’re thinking about and talking about, and they follow my blog, which is my creative outlet.”

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One Response to A Balenciaga and a Blog: The New Fashion Influencers

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