Sunday, January 20, 2008

It's A Big World Out There

via Kingdom of Style

There seems to have been a recent spate of supposed fashion insiders/editors verbally attacking bloggers for our lack of journalistic skill, elegance or our materialism. It once again poses the question as to whether fashion bloggers and fashion editors can happily co-exist.

Firstly I must confess to being slightly dubious that these commentors do actually work in the industry and merely say that to give their opinions weight, however, lets work on the assumption that the "toxic commentors", as Liberty London Girl calls them, do work in the industry - what's really their issue?

The most obvious answer would be they feel threatened; that their hard work is being undervalued by amateurs coming in and getting access to the things they have worked for a great many years to achieve. And I can actually understand this.

I have worked all my life to be a designer. I come from a poor/working class family and in order for me to achieve my goal of becoming a graphic designer I had to work twice as hard as the wealthier kids at college, since I couldn't go on field trips nor could I buy a computer for home or the books needed to make the learning process easier for me. So I struggled. Hard. Over many, many years I have had to learn lots of programmes and techniques, be adaptable and constantly on-the-ball. I have had to endure the crippling self doubt whenever my work is rejected by a client.

In any creative field you have to learn to be arrogant since essentially you are taking on the role of educator - you have to tell people that their ideas suck and teach them why yours is better. You are essentially saying you have better taste and have to be able to back it up. This has worked for many years - the client didn't have the tools nor the skill to do a designers job so happily handed over their money for us to make them look better.

In the field of graphic design things have changed. Everyone now has a computer and easy access to Photoshop, which is more user friendly than ever before. The result of this is that everyone now thinks that because they have mastered the drawing and text tool, knocking up a logo/website/brochure is easy. Everyone is a now a designer. What we then have are our clients going to one of their mates, who happens to have Photoshop, to get their logo designed and it now only costs them £50 and a pint as opposed to the £5000 we charge. This in turn means we can't get the chance to educate people on good design which therefore lowers the benchmark - now no-one sees why they should pay £5k when they can pay someone £50 for what they see as being the same thing, since they are now not as exposed to good design as before, or educated on the differences. This has a knock-on effect of changing the economics of the industry. As with all businesses, designers and their agencies must bring in a specific amount of money to keep operating. If we don't make enough money we can't pay printers and other third party businesses we deal with, who then in turn start to feel the pinch and so it goes on. Essentially the guys doing dreadful logos for £50 are de-valueing an artform.

So I can understand why some fashion editors may take umbrage (edited especially for a-b) at us bloggers getting invites to shows or events, which formerly was only open to them. It must feel on some level like we are waltzing in and taking what they have worked very hard for. The difference is us graphic designers are being replaced (or at least being forced to charge nominal fees), whereas editors really can't be since you can't buy a computer programme which generates fashion editor chat. You can't go and buy Fashion Editing For Dummies! The truth is we bloggers would probably crumble under the pressure of their jobs..and we know it. It's all very well flitting to this show and that, but there's more to the industry than just going to shows. Bloggers get to do the nice the bits without any of the hard work.

But before we get all misty eyed as to why bloggers are being courted by fashion houses and such like in the first place, lets get down to the nitty gritty. It's a simple case of mutual back scratching: bloggers get the chance to see fashion on a level they wouldn't otherwise get to experience and the fashion houses get cheap advertising/PR. It's that simple. Obviously when we do get invited to things we can feel out of place but lets be honest, if we really didn't feel we should be there we would just say no, so on some level we believe we have as much right to see/do these things as any fashion editor. And we do. You see the puppet masters of the fashion business realise that exclusivity can no longer sustain the industry, and so they must reach out to everyone, as opposed to the honoured few. So bloggers are a god send. Suddenly they have access to a worldwide audience daily without having to lift a finger or send a single email. Are we being used? Yes of course we are, but with it comes the chance to dabble and get more involved with the thing we love, so everyone's a winner.

Out of the blogging phenomenon we now have another medium which makes fashion a little more accessible - the online magazine which utilizes user generated content, ie: bloggers. Vogue and so on are wonderful as they are aspirational and offer escapism, but blogs are great for another reason - they are real. They aren't as intimidating and act as inspiration, since they offer ideas that we can actually use; things we can actually afford.

It's unlikely we will replace bona fide editors because you can't replace good old experience and honed skill, so rather than sending toxic comments to us little people, they should be content with the fact that blogs will never replace the much loved glossy magazine, especially since bloggers get most of their content from magazines anyway. Sometimes keeping your gob shut says much more than a bunch of verbal abuse.

So lets all play nice and revel in the fact fashion can unite and be enjoyed by people from all walks of life - rich, poor, old, young, white or coloured...we are all free to enjoy it and how many things in life can we say that about?

Queen Michelle

5 comments:

youmeher said...

What a great post! I'm surprised that no one has commented yet. So I feel iffy about breaking the silence with my not so well thought out response...

Anyway. Kudos to you!

alana said...

i can also understand how the editors and "real" fashion journalists feel, but the rise of the fashion blog was inevitable. i have a wee question... i'm kind of new to the whole blogging thing, i was just wondering if you had any advice on how to promote my blog? i'd love to get it out there more.

Drusilla said...

Being one of the bloggers the post refers to, I can confirm that the person who chose to attack my blog was indeed a journalist working for a lifestyle magazine in Delhi- that is, if he was who he says he was.
However, I do think that fashion bloggers can't possibly take over editors' or other fashion journalists' jobs, and that's because we simply don't, for the most part, do the same thing. A person with the right Adobe tools might be able to simulate a graphic design job (inferior to the real thing), but what bloggers do is put their opinions and thoughts out there- and the backlash comes from the fact that some people do not like us having the space to do that, or using it in a certain way. Of the three bloggers Queen Michelle linked to in that post, I was the only one who had something negative to say- namely, that I believed the designer in question was guilty of plagiarism- but as one can see, attacks can turn up (thankfully, not all the time) on even the most innocuous posts.

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Fashion's Darling said...

This is terrible. Editors should feel a bit proud...like you said most of the content on fashion blogs are inspired by the fashion mags out there. That just shows their insecurities if they feel threatened by someone behind a computer screen (who gets paid wayyy less then they do)!