Opinion: What does Vogue vs Bloggers mean for the Future of Fashion?
Unless you have been living under a rock, you will likely be aware of the recent headline hitting "Vogue vs Bloggers" feud. Just in case you missed it, here's a quick recap... It all started with the publication of Vogue's Milan fashion week round up, which took a rather unexpected angle declaring war on fashion bloggers labelling them as "embarrassing", "sad" and "pathetic", and controversially accusing bloggers who, "change head-to-toe, paid-to-wear outfits every hour" of "heralding the death of style!" Naturally, great uproar followed with many calling out Vogue, especially since the magazine recently published blogger and Instagram it-girl, Chiara Ferrangi on their cover. Throughout the debate we have sat back, quietly gathering our thoughts and tackling our inner demons. Now one month down the line we have come to question, "what does this mean for the future of fashion?" Yes, we may be a little late to the party but as the Vogue vs Bloggers conversation has worn on we have been battling with our own internal debate. Weeks of toiling has raised questions over the authority of the journalists who pen our monthly "fashion bible", the contribution and role of fashion bloggers, and our responsibility as part of the blogging community weighed up against our experiences as fashion week press correspondents and professional marketeers. Only after emerging from the rubble of multiple moral dilemmas can we look at the bigger picture and finally question what this means for the future of fashion. From the initial shock through to final question, we present our Scottish Bitches consensus on Vogue vs Fashion Bloggers.
The Rise of the Fashion Blogger and the Fall of Print Press
In order to understand the debate between Vogue and the Blogging Community we must first examine the industry wide changes that have taken place in recent years. Over the last decade the blogging community has grown from an edgy collective of bedroom correspondents to a mouthpiece of the fashion industry, with countless sites across the world appealing to millions of audiences and waving a powerful, growing presence over the industry.
The power of the blogger movement shouldn't be underestimated. After all bloggers have been instrumental in popularising street style and, in turn, have given rise to their role brand ambassadors through "What I Wore Today" photo diaries. The hold bloggers have over the industry was arguably first evidenced when Marc Jacobs named one of his bags after blogger, Bryanboy in 2008.
In addition, the rise of the fashion blogger has coincided with the fall of the print press. Contrary to popular belief it is not only newspapers that have suffered from the decline in print consumption, fashion and lifestyle magazines have taken a big hit too. The full 2015 UK magazines ABC circulation breakdown revealed that only 60 out of 442 titles increased sales. Rather, the 442 magazines audited by ABC actually lost by an average of 4 per cent year on year for the last six months of 2015, with UK Vogue showing a -2.6% year on year change.
However, in face of these figures, the magazine has retained its title as the leading voice of the industry and, whether it be through their website or printed magazines, Vogue is still a pillar of modern fashion news consumption. This is partially due to Vogue's adaptability. In recent years Condé Nast have focused on publishing more online content and embracing social media. The Vogue.com website currently boasts 357,816,066 average page views per month.
Indeed, the institution's adaptability was evidenced this year when British Vogue celebrated its 100th anniversary with a record breaking centenary special edition and the subsequent release of a book by current editor-in-chief, Alexandra Schulman, "Inside Vogue: A Diary of My 100th Year."
Though apparently unfazed by the rise of a fashion blogging network (that is until now), Vogue has fallen somewhat victim to the fall in print press. The disruption in balance between traditional fashion consumption and the rise in self published blogs has no doubt created a breeding ground for tension. Other shifts, such as the movement towards street style and what many have described as the fashion week "circus", have only accentuated issues.
The Circus of Fashion Week and Our Internal Struggle
The fashion industry has changed a lot in the past 20 years. As a teenager I aspired to the understated camera shy reporter who uncovered the latest talent and runway trends. However, it seems that the "Black Crows" of fashion - the journalists of the 1990s who waited outside elusive run down buildings for secret runway shows dressed head to toe in Commes de Garçons- have become extinct.
When I attended my first fashion week in 2012 as a press correspondent it was clear that fashion has changed. The crows have since been replaced by a gaggle of colourful preening peacocks dressed in multi-coloured prints and raised club sandwich wedges, posing outside venues for street style photographs. No matter where you stand on the issue of Vogue vs Bloggers, there is no denying that fashion week as we know it has become a bit of a circus with each act fighting for their moment in the spotlight.
With many a blog or fashion week report splashed with an array of outlandish street style photos and the occasional catwalk review, some have leaped upon the opportunity to make a joke of fashion week street style. The most memorable fashion week troll being that of Vice Magazine's Hannah Ewens who was papped in outfits she compiled from Sports Direct, market stall buys and items she found in a skip, and documented the experience in an article titled, "I Dressed Like an Idiot at London Fashion Week to See How Easy It Is to Get Style Blogged!"
When approaching the debate from this perspective, one can understand Vogue's gripe. Designers work painstakingly hard to create a collection in the run up to fashion week in the hope that the guests they invite to their exclusive shows will use their platform, whether it be a blog, article or social media account, to spread the word, which will hopefully lead to additional press and ultimately the sales of their clothing. However, all too often it seems that fashion week reports are saturated with Outfit Of The Day fashion diaries and the odd footnote of acknowledgement to designer show invites. With many documenting their outfits rather than that of the models, it seems the privilege of a press pass is being taken for granted.
Meanwhile, in contrast, the magazine and press correspondents are zipping across London attending as many shows as possible before penning their reviews at night. With a background in journalism, we have both attended London Fashion Week as press correspondents and have experienced the quick dash between venues and the balance between networking, finding the time to write, and fuelling ourselves via late night trips to McDonalds after days of snacking on only press lounge seaweed rolls.
That is not to say that we did not enjoy fashion week, rather we loved every minute of it. There is nothing quite like seeing luxury fashion design up close in an exclusive setting. It is a true pleasure and privilege, and our experience of fashion week correspondence is something we both still treasure. Therefore, it is perhaps hard to understand the idea of documenting your own style over that on the runway.
That said, our days as journalists are behind us and a number of years ago we both took the decision to set up a blog with the purpose of writing about our passion. Whilst we are not career bloggers, blogging has certainly become a part of our identity and as a result it was hard not to feel the sting of Vogue's comments. What's more it is also wrong to tarnish all fashion bloggers with the same brush, as many do report on the shows whilst also taking the time to document their own brand of style - just look at what Susie Bubble does! We lovingly follow many blogs that offer fantastic coverage of the shows from a different perspective to that of the mainstream fashion media, and that is what makes blogging so special.
Fashion bloggers like Tavi Gevison have helped the industry grow and change for everyone. Previously readers had only the word of fashion magazines like Vogue or Elle to go on and, whilst their opinions are still heavily valued, many now look to bloggers for an alternative insight into the industry. In an age of fast information you also have to ask how many people actually want to read a full detailed catwalk review? I know I would but I suspect I may be in the minority. By self-documenting their experiences via social media bloggers provide audiences with another form of consumption, and it is pretty wonderful that we can now watch fashion week shows from anywhere in the world via our phones.
By offering a new perspective, whether it is via a front facing camera, any self-published blogger can offer their take on the industry, allowing the readership to influence the industry rather than the other way around. With that bloggers offer an opportunity to shape the future of fashion and that is not something to be sniffed at.
The Aftermath of Vogue vs Bloggers
In spite of the value both Vogue and Fashion Bloggers hold, the aftermath of a rather savage debate has seen an industry divided with many turning their backs on Vogue or Bloggers. We only hope that as time moves on and old wounds heal we can see an industry working together. It seems, with the growing power of bloggers, magazines like Vogue are perhaps missing a trick because if Vogue and Bloggers worked together they would have the potential to harness readership, attract a wider demographic and ultimately further change and develop fashion media consumption for the better!
However, the immediate aftermath has already played witness to some interesting developments. Since, whether as a result or not, the British Fashion Council have raised the stakes for Bloggers seeking press accreditation, doubling the requirements to over 10,000 unique site visitors per month and over 10,000 combined followers on all social media platforms. The BFC claim this decision has been made due to the high volume of applications.
Such a decision could have interesting implications and will likely see the number of bloggers in attendance reduced. With this move following Vogue's denouncement of fashion bloggers, we found ourselves questioning, "what does this mean for the future of fashion?"
What does Vogue vs Bloggers mean for the Future of Fashion?
With Vogue, Bloggers and many others divided it will be interesting to see if this debate will have any impact on the future of the industry. What does this mean for fashion designers? Will this change their relationship with the media? After all, in recent years designers have looked to fashion blogs as new, raw platforms for their creations.
That said, one now has to reconsider and question whether the change in fashion week entry requirements will be beneficial or detrimental to the blogging community as we know it. Will the new press pass requirements steer away the fashion posers who use blogs to gain street style attention? Will the fashion circus cease to exist in a number of years? Rather, will the division created between Vogue and bloggers and the new press requirements hinder talented writers in their hopes of being discovered? It's anyone's guess at this stage but we certainly hope that Vogue and the blogging community can come together and use their powers to move the industry forward.
What are your thoughts on the Vogue vs Bloggers debate? What implications do you think the debate will have on fashion's future? Please share your thoughts in the comments below or read our other fashion posts here.