The style blog stigma
Who's saying what
It's no secret that mainstream media, particularly print media, have long criticised and questioned the validity of fashion bloggers (an argument that may have more to do with ego than anything else). Early this year Damien Woolnough labelled fashion bloggers in an article for The Australian as 'digital dress dictators,' and spoke of their invasion and influence on the fashion industry, namely fashion weeks. Their notable presence at such events has caused an influx of attendees vying to be photographed, a focus which has to some, become just as important as the clothes on the runway.
I am a regular follower of many well known and not so well known fashion blogs. What I enjoy about the online journals is the voyeuristic nature of following bloggers evolve their personal style, hearing their insightful opinions and seeing their personalities shine through. Watching Tavi Gevinson of Style Rookie journey through a fashionable form of puberty, Susanna Lau of Style Bubble discovering unique labels in the most exotic of places and gaining insights into the design process from local designers Cami and Nadia of DI$COUNT are all entertaining ways to make my days go faster.
There is one form of fashion blogging however that I am yet to fully understand. The style blogger. When I say I don't understand, it's not so much I don't get why they are continually taking photos of themselves and sharing them with the world (although their unashamed vanity does freak me out a little). More so I am continually left wondering why so many people admire them for doing it.
Take Rumi Neely of Fashion Toast for example. Here is a beautiful slender girl who is constantly posting photos of herself wearing some-what predictable outfits (let's be real here, the Olsen twins and Kate Moss paved the way to this designer clad bohemian style long ago) but yet her blog was quoted in 2009 to receive 35,000 hits per day. So what am I missing? Does she really have amazing style or is it just simply the case of a pretty girl wearing denim shorts and a knitted jumper?
I understand that there are always going to be trends within the fashion world and the blogesphere is no different. But I can't help but question whether Rumi's audience really visit Fashion Toast to admire her style, or if they are there to merely fawn over pretty pictures? And if that is the case – how long can this low-on-substance form of blogging survive?
In the case of Fashion Toast, the person taking the beautiful photos really should be receiving more of the credit here. Rumi wakes up, throws on a pair of jeans and a cardigan, swaggers outside with a nonchalant attitude and her photographer boyfriend paps her. It's almost as though she's become famous thanks to having her own personal paparazzo documenting her life. And I don't mean to pick on Rumi alone here, there are plenty of good looking girls making a name for themselves under the guise of a fashion blogger – Karla's Closet,Chic MuseSea of Shoes4th and Bleekerand SRC783.
Such image saturated blogs have developed a very predictable formula; rich, good looking girl posts pretty pictures of herself wearing a designer outfit that could potentially be replicated via high-street imitations and vintage finds. The girl is often looking down at the ground like she is 'unaware' she is being snapped. Very rarely does she post goofy or unflattering shots. Amazing long legs are also a prerequisite. There is very rarely anything new or out of the ordinary on these blogs - although Chic Muse and Sea of Shoes do show an openness to embrace varying styles, hence why they are popular. But I still can't help but wonder at what point does a love of fashion and clothes turn into unapologetic narcissism?
This self-indulgence is quite contagious thanks to the large number of roaming street photographers. Walk around the city in a tailored trouser and eye catching shoe and you too could be snapped and shown to the world. But once again, apart from the obvious exceptions, such image saturated blogs fail to show the diversity of the cities that they shoot in. Where once a city had its own distinct style, style blogs now depict capital cities in much of the same light by documenting similar looking girls, in different countries, wearing very similar outfits. Is it the photographer's agenda to shoot the same looking girls in every city, or have fashion enthusiasts around the world been so influenced by blogs that they are adopting the cliched street style aesthetic? For an industry that is inspired by the new and diverse, having an 'alternate' style embraced by the world wide masses is rather ironic. And a little sad.
I could even throw Anna Dello Russo under the bus here and say, thanks to the growing number of street style blogs, even she has become predictable. Once upon a time I used to get excited to see what she would wear. Now I roll my eyes at her attention grabbing garb. It seems within the last two years her style has grown bold and brash, which could very well be a natural evolution but it just so happens to collide with the influx of street style photographers. Call me cynical but the fact that Dello Russo changes her outfits multiple times during fashion week has little to do with her love of fashion and everything to do with her love of being photographed.
But to these bloggers credit, despite all the criticism that can be hurled at them, at the end of they day they are undeniably successful. But at what price to the industry? And who is really to blame here for the saturation of such typical street style images? The blogger? Or the audience that can't get enough of much of the same? It's a chicken or the egg scenario.