My conference project this semester analyzed the ways in which social media, specifically fashion blogs, has changed the fashion industry. To study this, I analyzed successful fashion bloggers including Rumi Neely of Fashion Toast, Jane Aldridge of Sea of Shoes, Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist, and lastly Tavi Gevinson of Style Rookie. Although at the beginning, I felt that style blogs were more relatable than glossy fashion magazines, through my research I was able to substantiate this feeling with evidence. Another major aspect of my research was to try to differentiate what makes blogs stand out from others, and why are the successful ones so successful?
To begin, at this point there are “generations” of bloggers, not in the usual meaning of the word in terms of age of the blogger, but in regard to the start of the blog. Although blogs did begin in the early 2000s in the mid to late years a new fashion blogging community began to appear. All of the bloggers that I analyzed belonged to this “first generation.” I think time of creation is crucial to their success. I do not mean that they would not be successful if they made their blog at a different point, but at that time there was a lot less competition. As Marwick noted in her research a statistic in the rise of bloggers, “Fashion blogging has grown considerably in the last few years. The Independent Fashion Bloggers coalition lists more than 48,000 members, up from 3,000 in 2011.” When these bloggers created their sites in ’05-’08 there was even less bloggers on the web.
Although their original success may have been because of when they created their blog, their continued success has to do with them, and the changing industry. Before I go into bloggers identity, I will compare the blogosphere to the fashion industry. Prior to fashion blogs the fashion industry was iron clad and it was hard for outsiders to peer into the ivory wall. Fashion editors, and designers dictated what was in style, and no outsiders were getting into exclusive fashion events such as fashion week. In the mid 2000s as few fashion blogs were created a change occurred. Readers felt more of a connection to bloggers and their style than the over the top and incredibly expensive fashion that was going down the runway and featured in magazine editorials. Perhaps people have always wanted a more relatable fashion outlet but with the beginning of fashion blogging, they finally got it. Initially, as I said, I felt that bloggers were more relatable than fashion magazines, but this gets more complicated. What makes some bloggers more relatable than others? Does it have to do with authenticity? These were questions that were raised for me mid-project.
Alice Marwick helped me with some of these questions. After her extensive research she came up with examples of authenticity that include writing as you speak, dressing as you would dress, and being consistent on different social media platforms. In other words, bloggers that portrayed an honest version of their identity such as personality, behavior, and style got the seal of approval from their readers. Forming a personal connection with viewers is much more important for bloggers than it is for magazines, because for bloggers it determines their viewership. A successful blogger is also a personality and self brand. At the end of the day, their blog is their brand and job. However, creating intrigue and creating a sense of connection with their viewers is what helps make a blog from good to great.
Halfway though the semester I came up with the idea that the key to the success of fashion blogging has to do with the combination of being both relatable and unattainable. Readers are attracted to a relatable personality, and style; however, are also fascinated by a lifestyle, and select clothing items that are glamorous and unattainable. I think for the most part, this is true for a majority of bloggers. An “authentic” relatable personality I think is of the utmost importance; however, being at least a little unattainable in lifestyle and clothing adds an intrigue that keeps the reader coming back for more. I think being both relatable and unattainable is the perfect recipe for success for a blogger.
To end, this semester I conducted an ethnographic study and blogged myself. After researching the recipe for success, I am excited to put my research to use and continue to blog myself. I think blogging is a great way to write for fun, express yourself and your creativity. I am excited to see how blogging continues to change as time goes on.