FASHION WEEKS are, by their very nature, exclusive events designed for fashion industry insiders, including buyers, press, and other affiliated media people, to see the latest designer collections. But, the world of digital has forever altered the concept of “media” and how we now define who is a member of the press and who is not.
For most of us, this is a good thing, as bloggers offer an individual perspective and a personalised touch to readers that seems lost to most major news media outlets. However, the organisers behind the major world fashion weeks, such as IMG in New York, have other ideas and are beginning to tighten their entry restrictions again in an effort to reinstate the “exclusive” nature of these bi-annual fashion events. While this might be a relief to some press and buyers, it seems a sad and, even, ineffectual response to the widened world of fashion, particularly since PR reps still control show entry lists and since the same organisations embraced these new media personalities just a short season or two ago.
Of course, the inevitable brand dilution caused by a wave of “insurgent” bloggers and upstart new media professionals has left the fashion industry somewhat in confusion. For IMG, the British Fashion Council, and other groups behind international Fashion Weeks, the impact of digital and the rise of the blogger as a media force has made it challenging to distinguish between people who need to be at a show and those who are there simply to be seen, perhaps outside of celebrity clientele who are themselves an entire class of marketing tools.
For brands, the question of who qualifies as media/press and who does not comes down to one’s definition of journalism in the first place. Even considering site reach, Twitter following and a host of social media analytics, the quality and brand appropriateness of fashion writers varies greatly, as for any other industry, which can make the job of a PR rep very hard in compiling a show guest list.
The Business of Fashion
But, brands cannot and should not ignore bloggers. They come in many varieties and should not be dismissed per se, as Renata Certo-Ware points out in a recent op-ed for The Business of Fashion entitled Don’t Write Off Fashion Bloggers. Bloggers are important partners in our age of new media journalism, for lack of a better word. But, this does not necessarily mean that over-inflated guest lists at a fashion show necessarily need to be affected. It comes down to figuring out what now defines fashion journalism and what the world needs from it, which is a value set that will differ for every brand and designer.
Since its inception, the field of journalism has been tasked with providing the public with information about the goings-on of the world. But, voice, tone and purpose have always varied and have always been affected by a host of outside influences, often political, sometimes money-driven and usually strategic, though many journalists may not believe it of their bosses. Fashion journalism is no different, though it may seem more remote to some.
The future of content, both print and online, for brands, designer, brands and buyers is, as always, a matter of you, your work, your clients or readers and your chosen form and mode of communication. Bloggers are an important part of this; but they are only one small part of it. Media outlets themselves have a huge responsibility in helping brands reach consumers and convince them of the desirability/status/uniqueness of a particular product or line. Not an easy thing for anyone to achieve but underscores the importance for brands to determine their core identity and to come up with creative ways to use this status to influence and communicate with consumers.
by Jessica Quillin