Tuesday, 16 February 2010
A freelance journalist at the tents in Bryant Park is telling me he's writing a piece about the influx of bloggers in fashion. When he says the words 'influx' and 'bloggers' he flinches as if he's being force fed a Big Mac.
I know what's coming: Bloggers are ruining the industry/There's always someone in the front row with a digital camera nowadays/ They're doing the 'proper journalists and photographers' out of a job. Blah Blah Blah. Blog Blog Blog.
Cut to six hours later and I am at a fashion blogging seminar in Chelsea. It's filled with lots of twentysomething girls hammering away on their laptops, tweeting on their blackberries or being horribly Luddite and exchanging actual business cards. There is some great outfit spotting, just like at the tents, except here it's more vintage than DVF.
Bryant Park bitchiness has been replaced by bloggers bonding. There's camaraderie instead of competitiveness. Of course- there is room for everyone on the internet; good, bad and mediocre.
We all await the arrival of a group of supperbloggers, including Bryan Boy and regular irritant of the traditional fashion press Tavi. She recently rubbed Grazia editors up the wrong way by not only getting a seat in front of them at the Dior couture show in Paris but blocking their view with her giant Philip Treacy hat.
I should mention that Tavi is just 13.
These nobodies turned somebodies are gods here-the equivalent of Carine Roitfeld and Anna Wintour turning up to address a bunch of 'proper journalists'.
My fashion week partner is the first to spot Tavi's arrival. She is standing unassumingly at the back of the hall with her Mum. They look similar and are wearing the same glasses, expect Mrs Gevinson looks like she shops at Walmart. They both have an air of Deirdre Barlow from Coronation Street, although Tavi with her blue rinse actually a bit more like Deirdre's mother Blanche. Or how I imagine Blanche would appear if she was styled by Patricia Field in Amsterdam on a bad acid trip.
Then, just before it all begins Tavi's Mum takes her seat-right next to my fashion week partner. We both dive straight in, confirming who she is and then questioning her furiously.
Annoyingly she doesn't say anything controversial like Tavi is really a midget granny in disguise or that she secretly shops at Walmart too and Joanna Coles is her ghost writer. She is even media savvy enough stop and ask at one point ''Is this an interview?"
It's at that stage I stop myself and remember that as a news journalist I used to interview cabinet members, police chiefs and pop stars and here I am getting excited about a possible scoop with the mother of a tweenage blogger.
In the hour Q and A with the panel Tavi turns out to be sweet and articulate and disappointingly lacking in pretension. Bryan Boy makes everyone laugh and keeps his wraparound star trek glasses on the whole time. Susie Bubble is passionate about the politics of it all (She's a Brit so I wonder if she has any Dairy Milk in her bag). Phil the Street Peeper sees himself as more of a photographer than a blogger (he is, his pics are beautiful) and Lauren Sherman from my personal favourite site fashionista.com reveals she is in fact a 'proper journalist' and use to work in news. I knew it. She wrote a great piece recently on the fact that designers actually pay celebs to be in the front row.
The biggest topic is the Editors versus the Bloggers debate and how it's a fight perpetuated by the media. I'm not quite sure which media they all mean, but I assume they mean the one that's not them. The one that is still printed on actual stinkingly un-hip paper.
As a journalist and blogger, I'm not quite sure where I stand. Or sit. Which is usually what it all boils down to in the fashion world. Right now I sit next to Tavi's mother. Earlier I sat in a row with New York Times writer Lynn Yaeger and the head buyer for Harrods. As I may have mentioned (several times, possibly becoming a bit obsessed) it's all about where you sit, not stand in fashion.
Now the bloggers are getting into the front row it's got some of the cognoscenti pissed off. Who can blame them? After decades clawing my way up the shit splattered gilded fashion ladder, I'd be pissed off too.
The bloggers claim the editors are scared. They've shaken up the hierarchy and were gauche enough not to ask permission. People that read the blogs feel they might be able to be the next Susie Bubble, but they're not so sure they could, or even want to be the next Anna Wintour.
It's all about accessibility. The industry wants to stay elite, because it sells aspiration. But technology is forcing fashion industry change; several shows at NYFW have been streamed live on the internet and London is doing the same at every show- so now we can all have a seat in the front row. And in the midst of this is the cold hard finance-Magazines are struggling while everyone reads blogs for free. Which gives the kids more money to save up for a Tavi Rope scarf.
On this issue I'm not sure exactly where I sit. Or stand. So my stand is that I would like to sit on the fence.
If I remembered to RSVP properly.