Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fashion bloggers, beware!

Wow, Franca Sozzani (editor-in-chief at Vogue Italia) sure has an issue with fashion bloggers. She believes fashion bloggers do not have sufficient background in fashion to make any comments, critical or not. And the comments that have been made? They're "naif and enthusiastic". Also, according to her, fashion bloggers do not have a significant impact on the fashion business. She voiced her displeasure on her blog (how ironic, isn't she also a fashion blogger?) at fashion bloggers getting front row seats at fashion shows and openly doubted their credibility.

Sure, fashion bloggers are naive and as viral as a cold but this is exactly what makes them more real and approachable than the nose-in-the-air luxury brands that have only begun to engage with their customers in recent years due to the (late) realisation of viability of going digital. Sozzani obviously has no idea about the global reach that bloggers have and how much they can influence a potential customer. Say one visits Jane Aldridge's Sea of Shoes blog today, sees her outfits (which Sozzani might label as "absurd") and notices that Jane is wearing a pair of shoes that she had been considering to buy. I would say there is a high chance that the viewer would go down to the mall the next day to buy that pair of shoes.

Traditional print magazines such as Vogue will definitely retain its prestige and credibility. Sales drop so what does it mean for the fashion magazine? Instead of wasting time whining about it (and complaining about the fashion bloggers), take a leaf out of Alexandra Shulman's book (or ipad). This project was overseen by British Vogue Editor-in-Chief and was launched in November last year. It costs a fraction cheaper than the print edition of Vogue UK. It may not be as interactive and integrated as this new media student would prefer it but it is nonetheless representative of baby steps toward taking the digital bull by its horns and making a concerted attempt at refashioning the fashion business model.

"Lets wait a minute before acclaiming it or hating it. There are still a lot of people who don't know what blogger means, and none of us knows how it will evolve. It's still under observation. The only thing I can say with certitude it's that if it were a disease, we would call it a viral cold. An epidemic!"

By portraying herself as "anti-blogger", Sozzani has only confirmed the extent of the rift that exists between the fashion industry and technology; between the fashion elite and basically, everyone else. Fashion trends come and go but some remain on the radar, usually in different forms (take the LBD, for example, the undisputed classic forgiving with the cut and design). The digital trend seems pretty likely to attain the "LBD status".

While it is early to determine its evolution and subsequent usefulness, one cannot deny that it has served the fashion industry well. The use of social media for instance, has made communication with customers direct and inclusive. DVF is a fantastic example of this phenomenon. The brand image that has resulted is one of warmth and approachability. Furthermore, brands can establish a brand presence in the online universe that people are spending more and more time on. Plainly speaking, going digital saves money. Costs of maintaining, fostering and sustaining relationships between the customer and the luxury brand have been lowered substantially relative to print and other traditional forms of promotions or advertising. The pros and cons covered here are far from exhaustive.

The notion and possibility of access into the world of fashion probably irks some and excites others and everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Sozzani is no exception. Let's all give this digital dinosaur some space.


quote courtesy of Refinery 29

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