Fashion Blogging – what exactly is it anyway?

I know what you’re thinking. This blog post is pointless since you already know exactly what fashion blogging is. But do you? At face value, fashion blogging appears to be a white canvas website that has pretty pictures, tips on how and where to shop, accompanied with a sea of hashtags such as #ootd (outfit of the day) #facebeatproper etcetera. Simply put; a neatly packaged social media site that you visit to get some ideas of how you can revamp your style, right? That’s somewhat true. There’s more to the term fashion blogging than the blanket meaning it has acquired. They may be defined by the shared field that is fashion, – and there’s the issue that they appear to have similar presentation design – but they do fall into different categories. The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation put out a report trying to define them and highlighted four fashion blog types:

 The Professionals

The Style File (Image courtesy of vogue.co.uk)

The Style File (Image courtesy of vogue.co.uk)

Ah, yes. It was the mid-2000s and print fashion magazine realised that they had to keep their throne on the Fashion Hierarchy.  This breed of blogs takes the fashion journalistic skill, commonly found in print journalism, for content creation and mixes it with the aesthetic appeal of the amateur blogger’s photographs and presentation. Albeit the latter still relies more on the expertise of professional photographers than amateur photography. Whatever content that appears on their blog space is related to and possesses the same feel as their other media formats. You’ll often see these blogs tethered to the magazines official website, such as ‘The Bazaar Report’ on Bazaar.com or ‘Style File’ Blog on Vogue.co.uk. The text remains true to the print magazine, as does the photography; with the few additions of famous models, designer or celebrities contributing private snapshots.

One major thing that you’ll notice about these kind of fashion blogs is the limited exchange they have with their readers or public. The most you’ll see them interact is via links with private and semi-professional blogs where you’re free to share your thoughts.

Fashiondustrias

This fashion blog genre is mostly made up of professionals who have a wealth of fashion industry knowledge and access, such as the journalists, models, photographers and stylists; with some amateur bloggers making the cut. They have access to restricted fashion events, such as Fashion Week, and get to see the different nooks and crannies that aren’t available to the audience’s eye. This in turn gives them the information to tackle professional style subjects of the industry such as issues concerning high fashion and lucrative fashion field events.

These blogs exists to reinforce the fashion industry to outsiders. Keeping that dream alive that, yes, Louboutin are beautiful and owning a pair might just be the equivalent as to making it to the gates of Valhalla. So on this platform, excessive, elegant and seductive self-presentation is encouraged in order to create style icons the masses can follow. While other blogs in this genre will chose to focus on identifying stylish people to follow, and objects of desire to attain that only industry insiders know about. Unlike the professional blog genre, there is large room for reader feedback.

A good example Canadian blog, jakandjil.com. Founded in 2008 by photographer Tommy Ton, this photo blog, with the help of limited text, captures the fashion during the major international fashion weeks from the models, celebrities, spectators and fashion editors. the  successful site, which purportedly receives 1.5 million ‘hits’ per month, has the feel of a street style photo blog but the apparel worn by the fashion professionals is hyper-staged and deliberate for fashion week.

Collage of images from the Fashiondustrias blog ‘Jak & Jil’ homepage (Courtesy of Jak & Jil)

Collage of images from the Fashiondustrias blog ‘Jak & Jil’ homepage (Courtesy of Jak & Jil)

Street Style

Street Style blogs focus on real people’s sense of style. It’s common to find that the photographs here take on a documentary style for a few different reasons. For starters, this isn’t your run of the mill, highly stylised fashion shoot. The blog is looking to feature people going about their usual day who just happen to have unique or noteworthy style. Therefore, the subject can be oblivious to the fact that they are being photographed or only have moments to spare for the blogger to capture their look before they’re on to their next bus or meeting.

From the archives of The Sartorialist (Image courtesy of thesartorialist.com)

From the archives of The Sartorialist (Image courtesy of thesartorialist.com)

Then there’s the second aspect of the attention being not just on the clothes (or bags or shoes or beloved jewelry), but on the person wearing them. The blogger’s interest in the subject searches to find out their story making these kind of blogs less artificial. It’s this desire for authenticity of being ‘human’ that makes the documentary-style portrayal appealing to these blogs. It’s also why you’re more willing to overlook the sometimes wonky photography.

Due to the fact that it’s not directly influenced by fashion brands or their related media, it not only reflects actual street trends, but acts as a platform to forecast future trends. However successful bloggers in this genre tend to be ‘promoted’ to main media systems falling into the Fashiondustrias. A great example of this is the famous TheSartorialist.com, which started out as a Street Style blog in 2005 and is now one of the most media-cited style blogs.

Narcissus

South African Blog teeteeiswithme.com by blogger Thithi Nteta (collage courtesy of teeteeiswithme.com)

South African Blog teeteeiswithme.com by blogger Thithi Nteta (collage courtesy of teeteeiswithme.com)

The last fashion blog type mentioned in the report takes its name from the Greek mythological character that fell in love with his own image. What is also known as a public do-it-yourself- fashion diary is also the most widespread form of fashion blogging, especially in Nairobi. With the blogger as the centre of attention, their style and fashion interests are put on display in a ‘performative self-narrative’ otherwise referred to as a personal diary. This will include pictures of what they wore, new purchases and style conscious personalities they’re following for one reason or another.

These blogs tend to have an open composite where the blogger can be reflective and transparent, on a daily or very frequent basis. Everything they post tends to have a personal imprint that conveys the possibility of direct dialogue; allowing their followers to be just as open. So you know the comment section is abuzz with activity.

Narcissus’ often start their blogging journey by displaying a mixture of borrowed images and snapshots of themselves. As they become more versed in the blogosphere, they shift the focus more onto their own content and material. Apart from the personal style blogs, Narcissus blogs also encompasses lifestyle blogs that show other interests of the blogger apart from fashion such as travel, beauty and food. This form of blog acts like a women’s magazine in that it provides edited selection of the season’s current in vogue inspiration. For example, apart from what to wear it gives the reader the ideas of what I can go eat in my new outfit and later what I should watch or listen to, and so on.

Shopping bloggers can also fall into this category since their core function is to create those captivating collages that make you look at these fashion items of desire that are trending. This type of blog tends to cross over into personal blogging as well.

South African blogger, Thithi Nteta does this effortlessly on her blog teeteeiswithme.com. Her posts will cover everything from fashion events and beauty products she swears by to her personal life experiences using an Uber, her love for morning muesli or working out with a new app.

The report only featured the four divisions but it’s evident that they left out what might as well be called the invisible fashion blogger.

Business and Fashion News Blogger

(Image courtesy of businessoffashion.com)

(Image courtesy of businessoffashion.com)

With the kind of money that is made in the fashion-sphere, there’s bound to be a more serious side to fashion that needs to be represented. These are the platforms that look at all the serious issues of the fashion world, from financial to ethical practices. It’s where you’ll find writers discuss issues that affect different levels of the fashion fraternity all the way to the consumer, all the while trying to be as objective as possible. And the fashion critiques aren’t too far behind here; the ones that will go to a fashion event and use facts to tell you why they thought a collection was inspirational or average as opposed to just ‘I loved/hated it’. Not as flowery or glitzy as the above genres but if you want researched information these are you’re best bets. A good example of these kinds of platforms is the Business of Fashion (BOF).

This list isn’t fully exhaustive. There are going to be blogs that are underrepresented such as subculture fashion blogs like Goth fashion that have their own following, or fashion blogs that just can’t fit into this cookie cutter moulds. Blogs are also dynamic and have the ability to morph or incorporate other fashion blogging styles. For example Bryanboy.com perfectly combines the Narcissus and Fashiondustrias genres, making him a fashion niche personality. However, if you’re looking to start or grow your fashion blog, it does help to know what direction you want to take. And what you mean when you say, ‘I’m a fashion Blogger’.

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