Designers versus bloggers: this edition’s showdown pits Anita Clarke against Label
We’ve been wondering when the gloves would come off. Today’s showdown is a no-holds-barred cage match of feisty fashion plates. Designer Shawna Robinson of Label hates “garbage” blogs by “random people who know nothing” clad in “heinous outfits,” while blogger Anita Clarke of I Want I Got is sick of blog stars who take themselves too seriously. Let’s watch the fashionable fur fly.
TODAY’S MATCHUP: Outspoken fashion blogger and gal about town Anita Clarke throws down with straight-talking Shawna Robinson of Label.
When did you first start to notice that the fashion blogosphere had gained real traction in the fashion world?
AC: I think 2008 is the year things started really taking off for bloggers.
SR: About four years ago, my friend Petula introduced me to a blog called Stylebytes. The blogger, Agathe, had such a beautiful way of displaying her life—personal style was only one aspect of it, but it was very well done. When the blog mysteriously disappeared, I started hunting around for other blogs to follow.
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?
SR: I think bloggers can most definitely help designers. I’ve discovered several independent labels that I love through fashion blogs that I love. As for hindering us, I suppose a blogger could trash-talk a designer or slam their collection, but then we get down to the issue of credibility, right? Plus, consumers ultimately make their own decisions.
AC: It’s the internet, so eventually there’s always over-saturation. Serious contenders post a lot, have a distinct point of view and style, and some originality. Compelling bloggers get noticed and talked about.
Is getting blog attention just as important as magazine exposure for designers these days? Just how strong is the fashion blogger influence?
AC: I would say very few blogs hold the status of being as important as magazines.
SR: I would say blog attention is not as important. We’re definitely way more excited when we’re featured on television or in print. But I think it really depends on the blog. It could be the blog of an important publication, or a respected industry professional where on-line influence is as strong as their print readership, or if they get millions of hits a day from people who could be our potential client, then I’m all over it.
Do you think a blogger’s ability to be so candid and honest hurts or helps your press?
SR: Let’s face it—bloggers are generally not experts. There are many exceptions to this, of course, but anyone with a camera, an opinion and some time on their hands can do it. I think what’s important about blogs is not necessarily the blogger’s opinion of your collection, but that they mention it at all. It’s about brand awareness and having people notice you, as a company. After that, most people can make their own decisions about whether the collection is worthy of their purchasing.
AC: It can swing both ways. Constructive criticism is great feedback, in my mind. However, snarky or personal attacks do nothing.
What justifies a blogger getting front row? Why is it important that they get these prime seats?
AC: The designer wants the blogger to have the best view for seeing the clothing and the show, like any other editor.
SR: I think it comes down to the quality of the blog and its content. For example, I would 100 per cent have Tommy Ton in the front row, because he’s actually a great photographer with such an eye for detail. Also, Stefania Yarhi from Textstyles has a lovely site with a great mix of street style, runway coverage and behind-the-scenes stuff. I’d put her front row—except she prefers to be fighting it out in the photographer’s pit! But, there are some blogs that are just garbage. Posting stock photos from companies’ web sites on a continual basis? Posting grainy party shots where the blogger is wearing a heinous outfit? I sometimes feel like people create random blogs in order to have an “in” to parties, shows, and then act as if they are some sort of expert because they have a readership. A lot of people eat at McDonald’s—that doesn’t mean that it’s good. At the end of the day, if a blogger’s content is predictable and you don’t update regularly, I won’t take someone seriously.
If you could change one thing about how fashion bloggers behave/write/act/attend shows, what would it be?
AC: I hate painting all fashion bloggers with the same brush. There are professional ones, and there are amateurs. I think I’d have to say that fashion bloggers should remember that shows are work for many people in attendance and they shouldn’t act like it’s a free-for-all party. Fashion bloggers take themselves way too seriously at times, but this can apply to the industry as a whole.
SR: There are so many blogs that I love, but there are probably hundreds more that are terrible. Random people who know nothing, and, more importantly, do nothing in the industry yet flap their mouths at those of us who are working our asses off out of love. I feel that there are too many of those pages out there. If you’re going to start up a blog, put some thought into it, and make it beautiful. The layout, the photos, the words—they should all be cohesive, and well-thought-out.