The Beginning and The Pavers of the Way
The technological advancement at the start of the new millennium brought with it unforeseen amount of opportunities which would then go on to develop with such speed that in a mere decade the internet landscape would be unrecognizable. With ‘web log’ as the first step, which then went onto to become ‘we blog’ to what we now know as ‘blog,’ here was a platform for sharing your thoughts with an actual audience on the other end. The first known personal style blog cropped as everything in fashion seems to crop up, in Paris. Soon enough, Susanna Lau, Rumi Neely, Bryan Yambao took it upon themselves to document their striking personal style, their hauls and share their opinion on matters of fashion.
The Rise and The Democratization
The appeal of the bloggers was irresistible. The traditional fashion media can make one feel alienated even to this day with their narrow view of beauty standards, airbrushed images and lack of diversity. But here was an alternative presented by the people from the masses to the masses. Here was an inclusion to have an opinion, share it and debate it. The bloggers were the anti-thesis to the magazines. You wouldn’t expect to see a 12 year old Tavi Gevinson on the pages of Vogue before Style Rookie popped up. Although the images were hazy, the thought behind it was honest. It was a voice, not heard or considered before, which was engaging hundreds and thousands like only true opinion makers could.
The Invites to the Rows – And then follow the rows!
Bloggers became the new celebrities in 2008. With nearly a million followers on various social media platform, they couldn’t go unnoticed by the fashion fraternity. Here was a medium to reach out to millions and potentially convert them to consumers. Designers soon got on board and here were bloggers on first rows of shows like Dolce & Gabbana and Marc Jacobs, a place only reserved for buyers and editors before. The inclusion did not go down well. Bloggers soon became a bone of contention. Having not paid their perceived dues to be sitting next to Anna Wintour or Anna Della Russo, they received backlash for the self-aggrandizement, narcissistic aspect of personal blogging, the ruckus caused by peacocking and getting photographed. What once used to be a quiet affair in the months of the fashion weeks, was soon deemed a circus.
Bloggers and designers also received flak for accepting undisclosed sponsorship to post about products, bringing Ann Taylor under fire for such practice. A debate broke out questioning how ethical it was to pay a personal style blogger to wear your product and write about it. Bloggers, on the other hand, countered with their power as influencers bringing in significant return on investment which in turn required a fee.
As mentioned in the beginning, the technological advancement of the new decade changed scenarios so quickly, that soon enough what set the bloggers apart with their quick connect to an audience through social media started to become moot. The editors were soon on-board with the click it and post it mania. You could find them all over Twitter, Facebook, reaching out and building a conversation just like the bloggers did a few years ago. There came a point of saturation where everyone you knew, their mom, best friend and dog were bloggers of the personal style variety.
The astronomical success of the first generation of bloggers gave rise to many a copy cat. But the easy format of blogging wasn’t the reason for success behind The Sartorialist or The Man Repeller or Style Bubble. It was the authenticity, a refreshing change in the voice; it was more than just taking pictures of your clothes. Blog readers also started to feel alienated for the same reason the print media alienated them. The jet-setting, designer wearing bloggers stopped being relatable.
A Parting of Ways?
With the success and millions now on the other end hanging onto their last word, the OGs of the personal style game took onto their next adventures. Leandra Medine turned her blog into a website and brought in other voices. Bryan Yambao went on to a judging stint at the America’s Next Top Model. Rumi Neely became the face of Forever 21 among other engagements. Chiara Ferragni also turned her blog, The Blonde Salad into a website and started a designer shoe line. Similarly, Natalie Suarez of Natalie Off Duty started a lingerie line. Like true entrepreneurs, they saw an opportunity rise and moved on to better and bigger things.
The Rise of Others
So what is the current scenario in the blogosphere? Is it dead as the rumours will have you believe? Was it all a trendy thing to do? Has the long-form think piece format losing its popularity to images of pretty people in pretty clothes? Are Instagrammers the new bloggers? Yes, no, maybe and I don’t know. What can be said though, is that blogging is evolving just like everything else. We probably still engage but we aren’t sure we can call it by the same name anymore.