Fashion, Bullying and Cat Fights
Wow, what a week. Talk about The Debate! The fashion world has had its own this week between fashion institution Vogue (.com – which remember is rather separated from Vogues various publications) and bloggers. Then, not to be left without jumping on a well-timed bandwagon American department store, Neiman Marcus placed their own falling sales figures on bloggers heads, claiming that they were killing their profits.
Let’s kick this off with Vogue however, in the companies recap of Milan fashion week a bunch of its online editors began attacking the bloggers in attendance. Creative Digital Director Sally Singer let the claws come out first offering the bloggers a less than friendly, ‘note’ on fashion week. “(Note to bloggers who change head-to-toe, paid-to-wear outfits every hour: please stop. Find another business. You’re heralding the death of style.)” She was then backed up by fellow Vogue.com cat, Chief Critic, Sarah Mower who spoke of “the professional blogger bit, with the added aggression of the street photographer swarm who attend them, is horrible, but most of all, pathetic for these girls, when you watch how many times the desperate troll up and down outside shows, in traffic risking accidents even, in the hope of being snapped. The non-photographed interested me far more.”
Nicole Phelps was softer, heralding from Vogue Runway calling it the street style mess. “It’s not just sad for the women who preen for the cameras in borrowed clothes, it’s distressing, as well, to watch so many brands participate.”
In my opinion however, it was Alessandra Codinha whose bark was worst, a Vogue.com Fashion News Editor who should have known better went for bloggers intellect. “It’s pretty embarrassing-even more so when you consider what else is going on in the world. (Have you even registered to vote yet? Don’t forget the debate on Monday!” I sort of want to play devil’s advocate and ask, well do you? Considering that you too have spent an inordinate amount of time on those same streets, most likely being ‘papped’ or perhaps by your comments looked over? It was a low blow and highly unnecessary from all three girls. (To call them women at this point seems to only give them a station they’ve not quite reached.) The real issue when you bring in intellect is honestly everyone in this industry has to have a degree of love for being frivolous, clothes might be necessary in the modern world, high fashion? Not so much.
Bryanboy said it best in his tweet, “It’s school yard bullying, plain and simple. How satisfying it must be to go for the easy target rather than going for other Editors.” It ties the whole issue right up in a bow. Other bloggers who have chimed in with some absolutely on the nose observations include, Ella Gregory who reminded us all that, so many participating in the street style mess are “Editors not Bloggers” Susie Lau (Style Bubble) meanwhile, realised we’ve done a 360 back to 2006 where the same arguments surfaced as Vogue and other archaic publications came to the startling realisation that no one is safe when it comes to digitalisation and that actually, your name is not enough, you must adapt.
Caroline Vreeland and others pulled up Vogues own crimes, including their money sources (funnily enough paid advertising for both shoots and in publication advertising not to mention attending certain shoes for an undisclosed fee, after all you’ve gotta bring in that dough! My favourite of course had to be from Shea Marie who pointed out, vogues most commented Instagram was actually of herself (a popular blogger) alongside Caroline in guess what? A street style photo.
Now let’s talk Neiman Marcus. On twitter, Stella Bugbee points out the main problem of luxury anything is not its style and quality points but the mere fact that in a post-Brexit-recession world no one really has the money for luxury and once you pair that with the dangerously unstable business model for fast fashion you will eventually suffer a dip in profits without any help from bloggers.
Quite frankly, it was an unnecessarily low blow and another obvious result of e-commerce. The problems both Neiman’s and Vogue have in common is an inability (or perhaps more an unwillingness) to adapt. Not to harp back too much but a while back when I spoke of bloggers still being relevant I mentioned bloggers and online fashion publications such as Man Repeller, Bryanboy and Style Bubble all of which have websites which continue to far out perform vogue.com for quality of content and engagement. They are more interesting, more intriguing and insightful and ultimately hold consumers interest far more. As this is the case it stands to reason that the only way for both companies to survive is to change their strategies and quickly.
Of course for Neiman’s they have more issues than Vogue*. Why? Because their product is in trouble. Firstly if your customers don’t exist you’re always going to find it hard to sell products no matter the beauty of it. Furthermore, physical, bricks and mortar stores are always going to struggle in the face of global online paradises like Net-a-Porter. They aren’t just looking to shoppers on the streets of New York and LA but everyone from graduates clasping their first pay checks to farmers wives in the middle of nowhere to new mums and housewives, there’s no real limit to their reach. They reach those with money when a physical store can’t and with limited overheads they can also provide their product at reduced, competitive prices and right there is Neiman’s real problem.
Secondly fast fashion. I won’t sugar coat the fact that fast fashion makes everyone’s lives harder. From busting consumers bank balances and wardrobes to the stores trying to continually stock something new and finally the environment suffering from our buy, wear and trash mentality. It’s an ultimately unsustainable business model. Eventually it’s going to tip over and maybe Neiman’s have already found their own tipping point.
I’m not actually the biggest fast fashion fan myself and I actually completely understand where Neiman’s are coming from. I too have lusted over something my favourite blogger has worn (not going to lie, usually Kendi from Kendi everyday) but of course she has the product before it comes even close to me and by the time it does I’m already lusting over the next thing and that is unsustainable. We can’t keep up with this buying pattern and actually why should we want to?
For Vogue and Neiman’s however, the big issue is competition. We’ve all been there, scared of losing our jobs, our roles in the world and for both they are under threat.
With Vogue it’s a case of losing their elitist edge. It’s no longer the only way to the top of the fashion journalism tree. In fact you’re probably weighed down far more by the pressure of bosses and regulations, not to mention being paid less. Meanwhile, bloggers aka self-employed, entrepreneurs wholly control not only their own time and budget but their content. Even I with my tiny not even a blip of a blog have come under scorn for being a blogger, seen as a lesser voice “oh, it’s different for you as a blogger, you don’t have to answer to anyone.” As if I couldn’t possibly understand how to write for anyone bar myself. After all, the majority of my content is for my readers not myself. If that was in fact the case you’d find a really strange mix of business, fashion and paranormal fanfiction. Then of course, include a pitying look and it will continue to be the hardest thing for bloggers to explain their right to a place in the world.
Vogue has held an invisible mantel, unthreatened for so long and I can see why they are so concerned, hurt and possibly scared. Suddenly the fashion world is flooded by looks and voices previously unheard from that threaten their existence, they undermine their one sided opinions and views and quite frankly I feel both companies don’t want that change, because change is hard and sometimes you can’t last within its vortex.
Perhaps what we all need to be discussing in terms of Fashion Week is not the problem with the new but the dying of the old. This switch appears to be happening everywhere at the moment but in the face of a tidal wave we will all be powerless to stop it.
Vogue.com do you think we could do a little less bullying and instead do a little more reporting? After all, the only way to get ahead is to stay ahead and dare I say you’ve feeling a little . . . irrelevant of late?
*This was not meant to be a joke and yet . . . I couldn’t remove it, it was too good.