Designers versus bloggers: this edition’s showdown pits Julio Reyes Cocka against Evan Biddell

Designers versus bloggers: this edition’s showdown pits Julio Reyes Cocka against Evan Biddell

Left: Julio Reyes Cocka, Right: Evan Biddell (Images: Supplied by participants)

TODAY’S MATCHUP: Julio Reyes Cocka of Fashionights has had a hard go of getting respect in this fickle industry, fighting near-daily battles to make Fashion Week ranks. His opponent? Beloved bad boy of Canadian fashion Evan Biddell, who wields his wit with withering precision. Take cover, because this will get messy.

When did you first start to notice the fashion blogosphere?

EB: When I started reading how much they all hated me after Project Runway in 2007.

JRC: Before starting my site, I was not at all interested in the blogging world. Whether it was fashion or any other topic, I had relied heavily on TV and magazines. Being in the realm almost thrust me into researching things and I just picked up on big names as I went along.

What is your opinion on fashion bloggers? Do they help you? Hurt you?

EB: They are just like people, only they keep their opinions public and get off on being impossible to censor.

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

JRC: I think consistency, passion and dedication are all contributing factors that constitute a creditable blog, or makes one a credible media source. There are a lot of bloggers that seldom post, and if they do, their mediocre or lacklustre “articles” fail to impress. With my site, we pride ourselves on working closely with PR reps and leading brands to provide information our readers will find valuable.

Has the rise of the fashion blogger affected your sales?

EB: Nope, but neither has anything else.

Is getting blog attention just as important as magazine exposure these days? Just how strong is a blogger’s influence?

EB: It can give you some “underground street cred,” if that’s what you’re going for. You can’t get that from mainstream Canadian fashion magazines.

Has the rise of the blogosphere (and the immediacy and candor of blog postings) changed the way you conduct your press, or throw events?

EB: You’ll have to ask my publicist.

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

EB: Helps. If you can’t take it, you shouldn’t be in fashion.

JRC: Blogger opinions have gone unnoticed by some designers because, I feel, most bloggers tend to please the PR companies that represent the designer in fear of offending anyone (or seeing future refusal of work).

Is it important to you to have a mix of print and web media at your shows? What can bloggers do for you that magazines can’t?

EB: Bloggers reach the cool kids, and magazines reach people in the doctor’s office waiting to get their herpes treated. It’s important to pay respect to both in order to reach a broader audience.

Is there still a tiered hierarchy between the print and web media?

JRC:  In Toronto? Yes. I constantly have the ongoing obstacle to battle it out with print media. We all understand it’s been around for years, but one must not also forget we’re living in the MTV generation, when things were hurdled to us via the television, and, most recently, the Internet. In Toronto, I’ve encountered numerous firms that will look past bloggers and other web media despite their substantial traffic and numbers. I face it every day.

What justifies a blogger getting front row at your show?

EB: He or she is a friend of mine.

JCR: I get asked this question regularly and it’s another hindrance and ongoing battle for me. But my response—as cliché as it may sound—is passion. How many editors and would-be “it” bloggers have I seen and read that confuse the most basic of things! Personally, I’ll never cease to comment on my personal love for fashion and style, and maybe others will get wind of my undying appreciation for the craftsmanship that is fashion design—despite the number of hits and support I get.

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

EB: Not if it was for good reason. I have taken some risks, and sometimes I wonder how I actually got away with it!

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

EB: I am happy they show up, dressed to the nines and all. They love fashion and that’s why I love them!

JCR: I might be stepping on some toes, but I don’t really care. I’d like to see some bloggers stop whining to PR firms because some other blogger got something they didn’t. The sense of entitlement some bloggers have for themselves and their blogs bewilders me—and there are a few in the city. Being amicable and supportive of others has always been my root, so the favour in return would be appreciated. Designers should become aware of their attendees at shows and acknowledge the lengths some bloggers take to attend, and to write and deliver to their readers. If there is no connection, what’s to stop a reader from taking their business to another designer? Think about it.