What is so interesting about blogging is the diversity and can do attitude of all. There are lots of different approaches, differing content and aesthetics when it comes to the fashion bloggers. What is shared is an appreciation and a love of fashion garments, because I'm not talking about fashion here in a wider context, rather the seasonal joy of the shows and the street and the adoption of designs.
What is causing me concern is the hierarchical notion of good or bad blogging. Content aside the main issue here is how fashion bloggers are being used by marketeers and the aspect of product placement, promotion or advertising.
The very charming Jane of The Small Fabric of my Life very politely discussed advertising on a post once as she was concerned by allowing advertising she'd put off people coming to her blog. She was tempted as she's going to do a post grad teaching cert and every penny helps. Believe me I can relate to this with my recent funding of my education. I accepted a my-wardrobe banner on the basis that any sales would provide me with a percentage of money. This is not a great money spinner as my-wardrobe is not the scale of internet fashion business Net-A-Porter.
This clearly puts me in the lower scales of fashion blogger hierarchy. Higher up the scale and I would have been offered the afore mentioned Net-A-Porter gig. I've been blogging since 2006, I abandoned all my posts in that year due to being scared, incompetent and avidly reading the others. In 2008 I finally plucked up courage and started Make Do Style. My blog prior to that is lost for ever as I can't remember my account details. I keep meaning to ask blogger how to get back into it as there is a lot of material in there I liked. My first blog was a story dressed up as a person living her life. It was good fun but it wasn't easy to engage with the blogging community as a fictitious character.
In 2008 bloggers began to be approach in various ways by Marketing and PR peeps or companies, so began a dance of advertorial placement. I decided not to get involved and retracted very quickly from this (after a couple of parties and some dodgy pants!) but decided to keep my banner as all funds help and if someone chooses to visit my-wardrobe that is up to them. I do post items I've selected from there from time to time but that is purely on the basis of all my selection, personal preference or for a specific look etc. I also inform of any offers very occasionally, again in the same way as I would highlight many other offers in the way that papers or magazines do. I'm actually boring myself with this explanation but that is to some extent my point - we don't need one and probably don't want to read one either. This has only come about due to a hierarchy of consumer goods being attributed value.
What is concerning me is when bloggers take the high road and explain why it is okay or not okay to write about certain companies/products/shows/whatever. Quite frankly I don't care how one bloggers moral compass/editorial decisions stack up against another as long as it doesn't involve the exploitation of children/animals/vulnerable people and isn't do with extreme right wing groups/racist organisations or drug trafficking. Shall I throw in paedophilia, Al Quaeda and money laundering to cover all bases.
Lets face it after the rape and pillage of our economies by bankers any minor product placement by fashion bloggers is hardly impacting the tax payer.
So, the crux of this must be 'value' or 'good' - it is a bit like Vogue then InStyle then Reveal, a hierarchy of publications. In newspaper terms, The Times, The Daily Express then the The Sun. Adverts in these are graded accordingly, editorial likewise and promotions. When I do styling work I know the difference in terms of worth when I call in clothes from the PRs. I also know my place in the styling hierarchy as a freelance jobbing one, someone who is no longer attached to a magazine. My best friend was a 'proper' journalist, a war reporting hazard trained BBC hack. She would laugh at us lifestyle softies. She thought anything that involved clothes, interiors, travel or restaurants was a meal ticket in every sense.
But this hierarchy thing is quite pants because particularly in the blogging world it isn't based on any fact other than perceived value or worth of a blog. Blogs gain a certain position due to content, then the ensuing publicity and so on...Many successful ones reach this status due to their previous industry work/standing/relationships etc.
My point is I think there is a lot of danger in determining what is good or bad on the internet in regard of blogging. Firstly there is the matter of freedom, people are free to do as they please. Secondly, this is fashion, which is creative, diverse and is often trail blazing in cultural terms. Finally, hierarchy is a particular British thing - the class system. A country where what school you went to is more important than the quality of your education or your own intellect. A country where how you speak defines the worth of your person. If you wear Chanel and talk like a common urchin then you'll be sniffed at. I'm always reminded how coke snorting Eastenders actress Daniella Westbrook managed to single handedly destroy the value of Burberry check. It still amuses me to this day.
Sister Wolf made laugh with her 'So What' definition of bloggers who posing in fairly ordinary daily outfits and have family photos only of interest to their friends and families. As a fashion academic this interests me no end as it is a representation of fashion as mass adoption. Sister Wolf makes me laugh a lot and is a good example of a leading blogger in terms of content and readership who is either passed over or not on the PR radar. In magazine terms she would be a best kept or insider secret.
Essentially no matter how you dress up a freebie it is a freebie. Some freebies are no better or worth more than others, it is all a matter of perspective. All material goods are a matter of subjective views. Some dream of Tiffany, others think not. Some love an it bag, others deem it beneath them. Snobbery is a treacherous road on the capitalism highway. It fuels the constant hierarchy and affords wealth more status than a life.
I think it would be good for fashion bloggers to show some humility and stop banging on about the whys and hows; the rationale of their judgement. I've been mulling over this issue for a while but AA Gill sealed it for me in Northumberland restaurant review of 'Milan' in a place called Wooler in the Sunday Times - I love his last paragraph which says it all ....
"I have often said that I don’t review rural restaurants because most of them wouldn’t last a week in Putney, and this is true of Milan. But it also showed me I need to eat my words: most Putney restaurants wouldn’t last a week in Wooler. This place serves a community with good food and an occasion. It does it without patronage, without an agenda of education or improvement or social manipulation. It offers warmth and magic and exuberance, and it’s giving local people what they want without telling them what they should have. And that is just about the most you can wish for or expect from any restaurant, be it Le Gavroche or a chip shop."