• Mon, Mar 12 2012

We All Know Fashion Bloggers Have No Integrity, Right?

WEAR DOLCE & GABBANA. DRINK DIET COKE

During fashion month, when every fashion site with a photo department publishes slideshow after slideshow of “street style,” in and around the tents, you pretty quickly note the recurring characters. There’s model-turned-blogger Hanneli Mustaparta, there’s accessory-obsessed Man Repeller, there’s Susie Bubble in artfully clashing everything and, of course, Bryan Boy. These and other superstar fashion bloggers are always outfitted in a morass of prints, wearing hot-off-the-runway statement shoes and toting the season’s most prominent It Bag. They always sit front row.

Although it’s pretty impressive when a blogger has much-coveted Alaia shoes or Margiela vests (especially when they haven’t even hit stores yet), what some readers may not realize is that the blogger in question probably didn’t pay for those things. Often times, gifts are sent personally by the design team, with a handwritten note.

Gifting, of course, is so common in fashion as to be part of the job (as Jennifer candidly and hilariously dissected recently). Still, sometimes the line between what’s a cool perk–free drinks at a glitzy event, goody bags, deep discounts–and what’s an integrity-polluting “gift” isn’t always clear. While many major online publications have simple rules in place to maintain the integrity of their editors (a common one is not to accept gifts worth more than $50), others consider these free-flowing samples as part of the salary.

Which brings us to our first point: the only high-profile person in the entire fashion industry with unimpeachable integrity, dignity, and decency is Bill Cunningham.

Our second point is that bigger sites usually have some regulatory apparatus in place to make sure editors aren’t just blogging about the brands that give them gifts.

…Our third point is that self-employed personal style bloggers have only themselves to regulate.

The initial problem presented by gifting is that it calls into question the (potentially stupid) nature of personal style blogging: is it really personal style you’re demonstrating, when covered in things you didn’t buy? Or find? Or choose? (Hence, “curated”) If the shoes are courtesy Alexander Wang, and the pajama pants courtesy Celine, and the top courtesy Miu Miu… how is a blogger any more than a paper doll with social media efficacy? (Sidenote: we propose a new name for the genre, “corporate style blogging”)

Next there’s the problem of wearing those clothes and speaking well of those brands in the hopes of keeping those freebies coming. The $2000 handbag is an obvious conflict of interest, but it gets even trickier when bloggers are then invited to the shows, ostensibly to review them. They are not critics, obviously, unless a critic’s job is to gush ad nauseum and a critic’s back is considered valuable ad space.

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  • Katie

    Potentially off topic, but I’d like to read a follow-up piece entitled “9 Reasons Why Bryan Boy Is The Worst Person in the World.”

    • Banks

      Shit yeah I’d read that! I used to like him, too, because he wrote about fashion and made jokes about anal sex. But now it’s just “Here I am at Prada with Anna Dello Russo and we’re both dressed like idiots and I didn’t have to spend a dime! OH AND PS BUY PRADA I LOVE PRADA”

  • Jennifer Wright

    ASHLEY NOW NO ONE WILL GIVE US STUFF FOR FREE. FUCK YOU.

  • Jennifer Wright

    PS BUY PRADA I LOVE PRADA BUY PRADA

  • Robbie

    Really great article, I 100% agree, and am glad you put it out there, BUT …the title??! Cheap way to garner attention, as it should really focus specifically on personal style bloggers- NOT fashion bloggers as a whole.

    • Ashley Cardiff

      Oh, I agree, and I do appreciate the distinction.

      However, it’s been my experience that many people (namely, people who don’t work on the internet) conjure “personal style blogger” when they hear “fashion blogger.” When I tell people I am a “fashion blogger,” for example, they automatically assume I have a Blogspot and take pictures of my outfits, as opposed to having an office and health insurance. This is the case 90% of the time.

      I think it was more a decision of clarity than attention garnering, though I could still change the title to something much more inflammatory! Consider: “Every Fashion Blogger You’ve Ever Loved Sucked Satan’s Dick So They Could Have Those Alaia Shoes,” or “Fashion Bloggers: Accepting Gifts, Spreading AIDS.”

      …In all seriousness, though: thank you for reading and thank you for your input.

    • Jennifer Wright

      From now on we incorporate “sucked Satan’s dick” into every post title, 100% of the time. I don’t care what you’re writing about.

    • kit

      Just spit out my afternoon coffee at “Fashion Bloggers: Accepting Gifts, Spreading AIDS.” THANKS A LOT ASHLEY.

  • USHI SATO

    And why BryanBoy only?
    It’s because he’s more than famous than anyone else or he’s just more loud than everybody else?
    Or…it’s because he’s Asian and fucking the arena of fashion kissing ass with who’s who than you?

    Excuse me, if what you have observed is too much…but too much is the REAL thing in the industry. They use you, you use them!
    Lets turn the table, you in BryanBoy’s brief kissing ass with Anna Dello Russo and fucking around with the Marc Jacobs. Will you make a negative words on your website. Lets take it on the REAL side darling. everyone needs to survive. He got into his position because he made his color more colorful than rainbow you’ve seen.
    As we speak, integrity is business in media. You think a magazine will survive if they will not put Lancome advertorial photoshopped shots on their page? Or Ana Wintour will be in the front row if the Karl Lagerfeld wouldn’t allow her to give a preview of the collection before it hits the runway.

    As I read articles like this, the more I deny the fact that most author of this kind of articles are just so jealous for not having on someone else throne. Pitty.