Designers versus bloggers: this edition’s showdown pits Nolan Bryant against Kirk Pickersgill

Designers versus bloggers: this edition’s showdown pits Nolan Bryant against Kirk Pickersgill

Left: Karolina Kurkova and Nolan Bryant in Berlin; right: Kirk Pickersgill (Images: Nolan Bryant and Felix Wong)

The professional fashion scene in Toronto is made up of many members: designers, editors, PR flaks and, much to everyone else’s chagrin, bloggers. Once the awkward stepchildren of the scene, they’ve now risen to front-row fixtures. In the run-up to the runway action this month at LG Fashion Week, we wanted to check in with some of the city’s best designers—from the up-and-comers to the respected old captains—as well as Toronto’s fashion bloggers to ask some burning questions: are there rivalries? Secret alliances? Are they working together or falling apart? Read on for inspiring pro-fashion spirit and grudge matches galore.

TODAY’S MATCHUP: Blogger-cum-photographer and social butterfly Nolan Bryant squares off with Kirk Pickersgill of design house Greta Constantine

When did you first start to notice the fashion blogosphere had gained real traction in the fashion world?

NB: When I saw the picture of Bryanboy sitting next to Vogue’s Anna Wintour, I remember saying to myself, “This is huge.” That image has proven to be one of the most talked about moments in fashion blogging history.

KP: It’s certainly been quite a while. We had invited on-line media to our shows since our first presentation in 2006. But sometime in 2008, we began noticing more and more Google alerts coming from independent on-line media, outside of the on-line counterparts of print publications. At that point, we realized that these were tastemakers and influencers in the making.

What is your opinion on the state of fashion blogging today? Is the market over-saturated? How can you tell the serious contenders from the dozens of fashion bloggers out there?

NB: I think it’s important for bloggers to stay true to their aesthetic and not become controlled by PR companies and brands—it’s all too easy to become sidetracked by trips, free clothes and front-row seats. Once you start posting what people tell you to, then you’re well on your way to becoming on-line fashion roadkill. Once you sell out, you lose all fashion street cred.

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

KP: Both. Everyone has an opinion, and it’s a fantastic sign of growth in our industry when bloggers have a voice as powerful as those in the traditional forms. However, unlike in print, the anonymity and frequency with which blogs are posted can allow the editor to hide behind a blog post. And of course, sometimes posts would be better off if the blogger had a fact-checker or copy editor on staff!

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

NB: Like anything in this industry, all press is good press. There will always be negativity towards ideas, brands or products, but it’s a fact of life—you can’t please everyone.

Would you be leery about inviting a blogger back who may have slagged your show?

KP: Hesitant, but so long as he or she has fact-checked, they’ll be invited back! The best blogs ensure that their opinion doesn’t overwhelm their reporting. But we understand the challenge, given that blogs originate from personal diaries and LiveJournals.

Do you feel more freedom to be honest about shows and designers’ work (for instance, if you thought it was hideous) in the on-line medium? Can this backfire on bloggers, or does it enrich the discourse?

NB: I have never in my personal blogging history spoken negatively in regards to a collection, designer or industry member. If I don’t like something or someone I don’t post. In my opinion, silence can be more powerful than blatant negativity. Bloggers who openly speak their minds will notice their inboxes lacking invites.

Has the rise of the fashion blogger affected your sales?

KP: Hard to say, really. We would hope it has (and for the better).

Do you think fashion bloggers can affect sales?

NB: I think if a blogger likes a particular item or brand, and they have a strong enough following, it could definitely result in some sales. If you talked to the head honchos at Celine, they would probably tell you Tommy Ton’s images have resulted in a few sales. After all, bloggers are real people (not models), and if a blogger can wear it, so can I.

What justifies a blogger getting front row? Why is it important that they get these prime seats?

KP: A blogger who speaks to a desirable audience and whom we feel is thoughtful, original and creative (no different than with print and broadcast).

NB: The front row is the fashion equivalent of the corner office. When others see you in that seat they know you have made a contribution great enough to get you there. I can think of a few front-row regulars that should be in the standing section, but I will keep those opinions to myself.