Democratization of fashion through blogging

Fashion blogging seems to be the real deal these days. Readers trust and praise the fashion bloggers more than ever, and they even aspire to become like them, secretly wishing to dethrone them one day.

Fashion bloggers are now part of the fashion sphere, but when they first emerged in mid-2000 they were not taken seriously, some people from the industry thinking that they would not last for long. It seems that they did last and the explosion of fashion blogs brought with it both positive and negative aspects for the online audiences; from making fashion available to more people to promoting certain brands that pay them to do this.

Fashion blogs focus on one side of the industry, being self-centered most of the times. Suzy Menkes wrote in an article for the New York Time T Magazine about how bloggers take pride in accepting gifts from fashion brands and how by doing this they cannot be considered serious critics. The bloggers are putting themselves first, in their articles everything being about their preferences. “Judging fashion has become all about me: Look at me wearing the dress! Look at these shoes I have found! Look at me loving this outfit in 15 imagines!”. In this case, the reader receives limited information about the fashion trends and it creates a bubble in which just certain brands or preferences are promoted.

Another drawback of the fashion blogs is the lack of transparency. It is expected for bloggers and brands to work together since bloggers need a revenue and brands the publicity. The problem is that there are many cases in which the bloggers do not specify when they are paid to wear a certain brand and when they are not. For the readers it is essential to know when they are reading a personal, uninfluenced opinion about a brand or when the blogger had an interest in promoting the brand. This difference is important because the recommendations the bloggers make are more powerful than the usual commercials, mainly because people relate to the blogger much better. This relatability made the fashion industry available for a larger public than in the past.

Actually, fashion blogs started a democratization of fashion. Fashion bloggers transformed an exclusive industry into a more inclusive one by encouraging discussion between consumers, by providing the readers with insights from fashion shows and by promoting accessible fashion items.

The democratization of fashion also led to a connection between the blogger and the reader. The possibility of online readers to comment in an instant on the post of their favorite fashion bloggers creates an intimacy between the two that a magazine is not able to create so fast. As Rocamora explains in Personal Fashion Blogs : Screens and Mirrors in Digital Self-portraits, the comments that readers leave on blogs are evocative of a famous fictional scene involving a mirror: the moment when in the story called Snow White by Brothers Grimm, the queen asks her mirror who the most beautiful woman is. For blogs, the comforting voice belongs to the readers who have left their remarks in the comments section. This also gives power to the audience to express freely what they think about the blogger’s post. But this power can be erased with a click, the blogger being able to delete the negative comments and to present himself/herself just in a positive manner. And this is when the blogs became less democratic.

The explosion of fashion blogging definitely brought some changes in the online readers’ experiences. It had a detrimental effect in the sense that the reader is exposed to biased articles that also have a lack of transparency, so that the audience is deceived. On the other hand, it opened the gates of the fashion kingdom for a wider public, a public that otherwise would not have the chance to understand this industry, which might be the biggest benefit of the fashion blogs.

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