Fashion Blogging, Social Media and The Changed Face of Fashion

This entry is part of my research project for the class of Networked Rhetoric at Stanford University. For more information, click here.

Ioana Ioanovici, Stanford University

My research topic is on Fashion Blogging, Social Media and the Changed Face of Fashion. By examining fashion blogs and fashion magazines’ websites, I am attempting to see whether social media has allowed the public to become a part of the fashion decision-making process. First, I will be looking at the extent to which fashion bloggers are taken into consideration by the fashion industry. Second, I will be analyzing the practice of fashion magazines to create blog-based websites, as part of a larger trend that includes other types of printed media.

One particular blogger that I will be looking at is a 14 year old girl called Tavi Gevinson, who discusses trends and collections under the pseudonym Style Rookie. Tavi is, in my opinion, one of the best examples of how anybody with no background in fashion reporting, but with a particular talent for this, can become a fashion critic and trendsetter by writing blog entries that reach millions of readers. One of the first mentions of The Style Rookie was in the Teen Vogue about two years ago, when Tavi was 12 years old. Some thought that she was a one-hit-wonder, but last year, Rodarte fashion house’s owners invited Tavi to the New York Fashion Week. An article in the Wall Street Journal called Tavi the muse of the Rodarte house. If it hadn’t been for her blog, nobody would have known about the 14-year-old fashionista, since no fashion magazine would have hired a 12-year old as a fashion editor. Therefore, to me, she synthesizes the essence of internet’s limitless possibilities that allowed fashion bloggers to break the rigid barriers of the fashion world. I will be looking at her blog and at articles written about her in order to see the significance of her voice in the fashion world. I will also use her blog as a way to access the entire fashion bloggers’ community.

I would be very happy to receive suggestions about the way in which I could explore this source better and about my research topic in general.

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3 Responses to Fashion Blogging, Social Media and The Changed Face of Fashion

  1. Cristina says:

    I don’t think fashion designers take into account the opinion of bloggers, especially because haute couture is generally what sets the precedent for all fashion to follow in that season. Plus, the fraction of people that actually spend money on couture is quite specific.

    HOWEVER, you might want to consider sites such as thecoolhunter.com and stores such as american apparel that hire people to go around the world to places such as tokyo, milan, berlin, paris, etc and see what is the current street trend. Without ever mentioning this research, thecoolhunter will post these trends and claim them as their own. Thecoolhunter has established itself as a trend setting powerhouse. People definitely listen and respond accordingly. The website is targeted mostly to hipsters in particular, but not solely.

    Other possible points of interest might be researching this whole hipster movement, especially in San Francisco. Hipster culture is seen as social movement, which is completely false. (We can talk more about why this is later) However, it definitely was one of the first non-geographically based stylistic movements. – Definitely in thanks to websites such as thecoolhunter.com and pitchfork.com

    If any of this is of interest to you, I have dozens and dozens of articles on the subject.

  2. Emily says:

    Hi Ioana,

    I don’t know whether Cristina is right about fashion designers not caring about blogger’s opinions, but your example of Tavi seems to give you another way to look at the topic of fashion blogging: Is blogging a way for fashion enthusiasts to make themselves heard and enter the fashion world?

    Another possible way to frame your research: As Cristina points out, couture is accessible only to a very specific population (both in terms of economic standing and body type), while the internet is a medium that is open to all. Do fashion blogs and websites burst open the boundaries of the fashion world, or do they structure themselves in a way that maintains its traditional excluvisity? I’m thinking of thefashionspot.com – I think they require some sort of application/invitation in order to be a member and post on their forums? You can’t just register and join the community without being accepted, at any rate.

    Another angle to look at might be: how those usually banished to the margins of the fashion world use internet platforms to bring themselves back to center. Here, I’m thinking of plus-sized fashion blogs – I can’t think of any by name, but if you’re interested, I know I have links saved somewhere.

    I don’t know if these suggestions are of any use to you, but I love this idea that the internet is changing the face of fashion, making the fashion world less untouchable than it’s been in the past. (And I love the example of Tavi! She’s so … cool, for lack of a more academic description.)

    One more question: I personally find the idea of analyzing fashion magazine’s websites very interesting, but I’m not sure how this will tie in to the analyses of fashion blogs or the overall topic of the changed face of fashion. Do you have any hypotheses about how fashion magazines’ websites represent this shift in the fashion world? Is it the interactivity of the websites? (I know many of them allow membership and comments.) Will you be looking at how the online magazines differ from print magazines? I’m interested to see what you’re going to be analyzing here, because while I don’t yet see a strong connection between this aspect and the rest of your topic, there seems to be a lot of potential for cool findings. 🙂

    Emily

  3. Kevin says:

    You seem to be well versed in your topic, and I like the idea of the internet as a sort of “American Dream” in the sense that anybody can make it.

    I would first caution that you should be very explicit when outlining what exactly makes somebody “skilled” at fashion. You mention that Tavi has “no background in fashion reporting, but with a particular talent for this.” Be sure to explain what exactly that means or risk leaving some readers in the rhetorical dust.

    Like I said, I think there is a lot of power in exploring the internet’s unique ability to, in a viral sense, bring people into the spotlight that otherwise would remain in obscurity. You make a point that Tavi’s age would have been an impenetrable obstacle had it not been for the internet. Is there a sense of age-equality on the internet? What ageist roadblocks of real life are absent in an internet setting?

    Anyway, just some friendly suggestions. Good luck with your project!

    Kevin

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