The democracy of fashion.
“Are you a member of the press?” I asked my neighbour as I coolly tried to hide the internal frenzy I was harbouring whilst perching on a bench in anticipation of the Felder Felder Autumn/Winter 2013 show. We watch the hive of photographers frantically taking photos of Marina Diamantis, sitting front row, who quickly move onto Kate Nash as she walks into the show space.
“Yes, I am” she replied. “Are you?”
‘No, I’m a fashion blogger” I replied. She turned away. ‘One of those’ I added, with an awkward notion.
On the first day of London Fashion Week, I found myself embarrassed to admit I wrote a fashion blog. I thought about why I’d replied in this way, concluding that it was because I was talking to another member of the press. I wouldn’t have replied this way to anyone else. And the reason behind my deliberate self-mockery is because of my paranoia caused by the bad press and criticism that bloggers have had fired at them by journalists specifically, especially over the last six months. On reflecting on why bloggers receive such criticism, I ask myself, is it jealousy? Is it that they think I pose a threat to them in an increasingly competitive world of fashion? Is it that I’ve been granted a ticket to sit on this bench, despite not having a degree in fashion journalism? It could be all of those things, it could be none. It could simply be based on total objectivity and fact. But my gut feeling tells me its a poisonous cocktail of all of the above.
The reason I write this post is in response to Suzy Menkes’ piece in The New York Times T Magazine titled ‘The Circus of Fashion’. It has also been responded to by other writers such as Leandra Medine, Suzy Bubble and Sabrina Meijer. When I read all three articles, I felt compelled to also write my own response, because each one of us has a different story to tell.
In Suzy Menkes’ article, she metaphorically scoops up all bloggers within her arms and plonks them in the same box and pushes them to one side. Ego-centric ‘peacocks’ self-promoting under-qualified spoilt vultures attempting to ride the crest of others waves. She makes some accurate observations. Those being that ‘people outside fashion shows are more like peacocks that crows’ (she initially states that fashion journalists were once described as black crows). I wouldn’t agree all people outside fashion shows were peacocks, however there will always be people attempting to steal the limelight. And actually, does it not make sense that people within the fashion industry dress like peacocks? Surely people with an appreciation of fashion may be prone to dressing more colourfully than head-to-toe in black. What Suzy Menkes is referring to is those people who position themselves in the right place at the right time, making sure they’re the ones having their photo taken. There are people who crave this, their moment of fame, but they cause no one any harm. It has been reported that some people change their outfits numerous times in one day, to be caught on camera outside a fashion show, for a little slice of self-promotion. Good for them for having the time, the energy and the drive to do this. Clearly, it works.
Image of Miroslava Duma via Pinterest
‘There is a genuine difference between the stylish and the show offs’ Menkes continues. Agree. And its the stylish ones which make my head turn, not the show offs. She states ‘Even those with so-called street-style have lost their individuality’. Again, I agree and again this is down to human nature mixed together with the speed of technology. The trend-setter, is witnessed by the early-adopter, who is followed by the early-majority, who is copied by the late majority and then about a year later, the laggards catch on. And that, my friends, is the [insert generic category here] adoption lifecycle that has been around since humans started wearing loin cloths. Technology allows these trends to travel at an even greater speed than previously, in addition to fast-fashion which enables us all to have a piece of a catwalk trend at a tenth of the price.
According to Suzy Menkes, journalists, have a time-honoured rule whereby they don’t accept gifts. Bloggers are sent gifts and accept them (I’m basing this on what I read on blogs I follow). The difference is that bloggers aren’t paid to blog. Journalists are. Bloggers write for the passion of a (what may have once started out as a) hobby. Journalists choose the field they specialise in, they write about their field and they receive a salary for it. There’s a big difference. How a blogger receives a gift is down to their personal integrity, whether or not they choose to disclose this information to their readers is up to them but its an important decision because it may reflect badly on the blogger. This leads nicely onto the point that Leandra made about a beauty product she has been buying every two months for the last two years. Her readers responded to this with ‘we get it, you’re sponsored by X’ leaving her wondering if bloggers have ‘entered an era where we can’t like anything without having our motives questioned.’ This is a sad but true fact where, I too, have been left wondering the same.
From my point of view, without blogging, I wouldn’t have met the people I now know who work within the fashion industry. I wouldn’t have the same creative outlet within a field I am passionate about. I have a first class honours degree from Nottingham Trent University in Design and have wanted to work in fashion ever since I left education, however circumstance has prevented this from happening until now. I now feel I’m on the right track, that a career within fashion is now a realistic dream within my reach and I owe this to writing a blog.
I believe the same set of rules to follow when working with any field remain the same – keep your feet on the ground, be polite, never expect anything, be grateful and keep your mind, your ears and your eyes open.
Suzy Menkes is a highly experienced fashion journalist with a great amount of credibility however I disagree how she has unfairly pigeon holed a group of entrepreneurial people who are taking their careers into their own hands, taking part in the survival of the fittest, experimenting, growing and prospering. We’re all part of the cycle together, so is it not better to support each other than criticize, especially when we all know how difficult it is to succeed?