Fashion bloggers, these days it seems everyone is obsessed with them, including me. Which is why I schlepped to the Design Museum (when is it moving west? Not soon enough) yesterday to listen in on the Why and What Next in London Fashion debate, hosted by Let Them Eat Cake. I thought I’d heard all there was to hear about fashion blogging but what was discussed was thought-prodding indeed and aside from the well-articulated opinions of the bloggers* on the panel, it was also nice to hear their personal stories. A lot of the debate zigzagged around the magazines-versus-online issue. Most bloggers are deeply passionate about magazines but it was agreed that those magazines falling by the wayside are doing so for a reason – they’re not relevant any more. As Steve Salter succinctly put it, “the magazines we grew up with are dying while online zines aren’t quite there yet. There’s a void to be filled, we’re in a transitional phase.”
When musing on the differences between online and offline publications, the point was made that good blogs take longer to find and a lot of bloggers skim-read and don’t want to read meaty, lengthy articles online. Certain magazines on the other hand are being cherished and referred back to over and over. The magazines that survive will be the ‘special’ ones, the ones with quality content and a unique point of view that are kept almost as collectables. I found this interesting as on the face of it, magazines are ephemeral (they’re made of paper after all) while online is permanent, yet looking at it this way, it’s the magazines that become permanent and the online that becomes old news, quickly replaced by the next blog post in our online quest for newer and faster information.
One of my favourite opinions of the debate and an issue that has been niggling me lately was Alex Fury’s take on the obsession with ‘new’. While blogs may be considered the ideal platform to help promote new and young talent, Alex Fury from SHOWstudio also flagged up the importance of forgotten talent. “People see SHOWstudio as an educational tool. I like to champion older designers, those forgotten names like Antony Price. Why? Because online isn’t about selling or satisfying an advertiser, therefore we can be more personal in what we choose to write about.” High five Alex! In case you hadn’t noticed me banging on about it, I’m rather excited about the upcoming Simon Foxton exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery and was chuffed to find an interview on SHOWstudio (albeit from a few years ago). Stylist Foxton has been steadily working since the 80s but doesn’t get fawned over as much as the Dazed/Love/V set. And the same goes for god knows how many other influential, yet largely un-bigged-up talents out there. I love that bloggers aren’t dictated to and can cover whatever they want and I think having an interesting, personal take on something is more valuable to readers than simply being first on the discovery trail – after all it’s not a race (although I do get that huffy feeling when Ms Bubble posts about a ‘find’ hours before me, in which case what can I say, I’ve just contradicted myself!).
Actually, another key message that came through was the chummy community spirit of fashion blogging. Susie Bubble was knocked out when she received over 400 supportive comments in relation to Hog-gate and it was unanimously agreed that bloggers are a generous lot who don’t mind having their posts referenced by other bloggers (but hey, a credit is always nice). Although bitchery in the fash-mag industry was a divisive issue (Jeannie Annan-Lewin had experienced, it, Rebekah Roy hadn’t), when it comes to online, we’re all on the same team. Now isn’t that nice to know?