Designers versus bloggers: this edition’s showdown pits Jay “Strut” DeMaria against Wesley Badanjak

Designers versus bloggers: this edition’s showdown pits Jay “Strut” DeMaria against Wesley Badanjak

Left: Jay Strut, Right: Wesley Badanjak (Images: Strut, Spiro Georges Mandylor; Badanjak, supplied) 

TODAY’S MATCHUP: Fame-hungry 20-year-old hipster bloggers who can’t write are the bane of Wesley Badanjak’s existence. The LOVAS designer has blacklisted many a young airhead from his shows—and he’s just getting warmed up. On the other side, we have Jay DeMaria, also known as “Jay Strut” of Satisfashion, who feels “entitled” to a front row seat (and will do anything to get one).

When did you first start to notice the fashion blogosphere?

JS: As a fashion blogger, I follow fashion blogs religiously. When American Vogue did a fashion blogger editorial featuring the likes of Bryanboy and Hanelli, I knew that it was official!

WB: I can’t say I remember an exact time when I took notice of fashion blogs. I think the phenomenon slowly crept into my life as a designer when I would hear mention of The Sartorialist. I conducted my own investigation and started noticing how numerous these sites were, along with their extensive numbers and followers.

Is the blogging market over-saturated? How can you tell the serious contenders from the dozens of fashion bloggers out there?

JS: I do think it is a super-over-saturated market, but that is life. It is not all a bad thing, because every fashion blog is a personal opinion and an outlet, which means a different story that is a unique source of inspiration for us all. How you can tell the serious contenders from the dozens of other fashion bloggers out there is by who’s following them on Twitter—seriously! Everyone can have a blog, but only certain people connect with international fashion elite. When Stefano Gabbana is tweeting you kisses and saying he likes your blog, or a major media outlet like Refinery 29 or StyleCaster is telling you they love and follow your blog and style, that means you are on the radar and you are doing something right.

Is getting blog attention just as important as magazine exposure these days?

WB: Certain blogs are very important in influencing consumers, particularly when they have extremely strong followings. In Canada, we have great blogs like I Want I Got by Anita Clarke, and The Fashionist by Christopher Turner. These blogs have huge readerships and really can influence the general populace. However, nothing will give you the notoriety of an editorial in a top magazine.

JS: I think getting blog attention is huge for designers. People wait on magazines monthly, or however long, but blog content (runway shows, presentations) is instantly available to the masses. The right bloggers with a strong enough following can help spread a designer like wildfire.

Do you think bloggers’ ability to be so candid and honest hurts or helps your press?

JS: I feel bloggers are very rehearsed, not candid. We pre-meditate everything we do, from how we wear our outfits, to our poses for street style, down to how we mingle and project ourselves to people in any given environment. A blogger teaming with a designer can be a positive campaign.

WB: That is a tough question, as it depends on who the author is. When a respected blogger reviews your collection and may not be completely positive, you can at least say this person was being objective and working as a true journalist. When it is a 20-year-old hipster writing about how they “hate suits because they are, like, so 1980s” and “I would, like, never wear them, and he showed so many suits,” it just gets irritating and can hurt your brand’s image amongst their readers.

What justifies a blogger getting a front row seat?

WB: There are only a few bloggers who will justifiably get front row seats, and it all depends on their readership numbers, and whether they are comparable to those of print publications.

JS: This is my favourite question because it is a constant battle I face during Toronto Fashion Week. There are certain bloggers that build their blogs to become some of the strongest amongst their peers. For example, I reached 15,000 followers on Twitter. Among them are DKNY, Dolce and Gabbana, POP Magazine, but the list could go on and on. Because of the network I’ve built with my blog, I feel I am entitled to a front row seat, because with every tweet, twitpic and blog post, I am instantly sharing a designer’s collection to so many more people than a lot of the faces in the front row.

Would you be leery about inviting back a blogger that had slagged your show?

WB: I have definitely not invited certain bloggers back to my shows after reading articles that, regardless if positive or negative, were incoherent, poorly written or far too subjective.

Do you feel more freedom to be honest about shows and designers’ work (for instance, if you thought it was hideous) in the online medium?

JS: Personally, if I have nothing nice to say, I take what I’ve learnt and don’t say anything at all. I think a lot of bloggers and writers attack and make malicious remarks about a designer’s work to catch attention and generate some sort of buzz for themselves.

If you could change one thing about how fashion bloggers behave/write about/attend shows, what would it be?

JS: I wouldn’t change a thing. Bloggers are openly expressive individuals and everyone is entitled to their opinions (and actions), no matter how dramatic they may be. One thing I would change about how designers treat bloggers is, well, I wouldn’t change them, but I would change some of their PR representatives. For some bloggers, this is such a passion-driven part of their lives. We take a lot of pride in putting ourselves out there for people to see, judge and hopefully love.

WB: I think bloggers need to  realize that a show is not a party or a place to hang out with friends. Fashion shows are important venues to help a designer promote their visions and create a strong brand image. Mainstream media  assists us in disseminating this to the public in a manner befitting of a journalist. I expect bloggers to do the same and be respectful when reporting, whether they loved or hated what they saw.