Fashion’s Knickers are in a Twist
It’s the fashion world’s debate du jour…no, we’re not talking about emaciated models, liberal use of airbrushing, chubby models, or any of the usual bones picked. We’ve got a new hot topic: “legit” fashion editors and writers pouting because suddenly, bloggers are taking seats at fashion shows.
First, note that the backlash started well before the following string of Twitter posts by Grazia UK style director Paula Reed. When Tommy Ton and Scott Schuman shifted from street style bloggers to fashion photographers/contributors, there didn’t seem to be much fuss. The industry took note, enjoyed the pretty pictures, and moved on. It wasn’t until pint-sized Tavi Gevinson was pushed down everyone’s throat that the real claws came out.
Now to the brouhaha. Last week, these tweets went out from @Grazia_Live:
Here is the photo included in the tweet on January 25th:
Now fast-forward to today. I woke up to these tweets from @_BoF_:
The tweets pertained to Fluff flies as fashion writers pick a cat fight with bloggers, which ran in yesterday’s UK-based The Independent. Here are excerpts of the article by Susie Mesure:
They were fashion’s Young Turks: the scant few voices of criticism in a sea of superficiality. But fast forward one season, and fashion bloggers are facing a backlash for falling under the spell of the big design houses they set out to debunk.
Enthusiasm has waned for bloggers such as Tavi Gevinson, the 13-year-old wunderkind who waltzed into the front row of the biggest catwalk shows, as former fans complain bloggers have been “bought off” by the industry.
An online spat broke out last week after Tavi’s giant bow-shaped headpiece obscured the view of one of British fashion’s most senior writers, Grazia magazine’s style director Paula Reed, at the Christian Dior haute couture show in Paris. Grazia claimed it had “started the Tavi backlash” after Reed tweeted a picture of the Dior collection – as seen through Tavi’s bow….
Sarah McCullough, Selfridges’ creative concepts manager and an avid blog reader, said: “It’s mind-blowing that bloggers like Tavi are at the couture shows and being showered with all kinds of gifts. It has soured things a little bit for me.”…
Robert Johnson, associate editor at the men’s magazine GQ, said: “Bloggers are so attractive to the big design houses because they are so wide-eyed and obsessed, but they don’t have the critical faculties to know what’s good and what’s not. As soon as they’ve been invited to the shows, they can no longer criticise because then they won’t be invited back.”
So, what’s the problem here? Is it Tavi’s big-ass hat? OK, maybe not a good choice at a spectator sport without stadium seating. And it wasn’t Tav’s first show, so she might have known better. But she is only 13. And the fashion industry put her on the map, so if they hate her hat and her age, they only have themselves to blame since they photographed her, quoted her, and courted her out of her 13-year-old obscurity.
Is it that “legit” fashion writers and critics, who have toiled long and hard from intern on up to secure their seats at the shows, are royally pissed because bloggers are sitting beside them, getting the scoop and the swag without having paid their dues? Could it be that just because we haven’t worked for a mag or paper, we can still string together two words—and quite eloquently and coherently—offer an opinion on what we see?
Are they really concerned about bloggers’ objectivity after being seduced by designers? Really? Um, reality check, people. We’re self-employed, us bloggers. We are the editors and creative directors of our own publications. That means we don’t have to be objective, and we can kiss any ass we’d like; we can run ads and push products and manage our editorial philosophy any way we please. Or not.
As bloggers, we appreciate and leverage our editorial freedom. And we also appreciate all those fashion publications we grew up with and still devour. We’re not telling magazine editors, fashion event coordinators, PR-people, and critics how to do their jobs. And they shouldn’t tell bloggers how to do theirs. Why is it acceptable for a magazine editor to make an emerging designer like Thakoon her pet project, yet designers can’t have their Tavi?
What has happened to the fashion industry, anyway? Are these the same people who claim to value creative expression—and revere it even in its most ridiculous, over-the-top form? When did they become a bunch of stodgy, closed-minded old farts?
This is nothing more than sour grapes. If a designer or media giant likes what a blogger is doing, so be it. Whether or not those in fashion like that some bloggers took the short route to industry insider is irrelevant; the truth of the matter is that bloggers are now part of the industry. Even if bloggers never get another inch of column space or a seat at the shows, this I know: the industry is still going to look. They just can’t help themselves. And that’s because even at 13, we’ve got creativity—and a perspective—worthy of consideration.