DOWN WITH THE GATEKEEPERS

Neiman Marcus and Vogue blame fashion’s woes on bloggers: “You are heralding the death of style”

Obsession
Fashion
Obsession
Fashion

Fashion bloggers can have large online followings that give them a lot of influence, which is why many are simply called “influencers.” It’s why brands often pay them to wear—and be photographed—in their clothes. Several of Vogue’s editors have clearly had enough of that.

In a published chat among editors reflecting back on the just-wrapped Milan Fashion Week, they called the phenomenon of fashion bloggers posing for street-style pictures out front of shows “horrible,” “pathetic,” and “ridiculous,” among other things.

“Note to bloggers who change head-to-toe, paid-to-wear outfits every hour: Please stop,” wrote Sally Singer, Vogue’s creative digital director. “Find another business. You are heralding the death of style.”

Meanwhile, the high-end department store Neiman Marcus called out those same bloggers as part of the reason for its fourth consecutive drop in quarterly sales. “Fashion shows are now blogged and broadcast all over the world via social media,” Karen Katz, Neiman Marcus Group’s CEO, said on a conference call with investors on Sep. 26. “By the time the merchandise ships many months later, the newness and excitement had worn off and in many cases, the customer has moved on.”

The complaints of the Vogue editors and Neiman Marcus are different, but they stem from the same principle. The gatekeepers of fashion aren’t who they used to be. Now everyone is out there, jockeying for followers and influence, and sharing images by the dozen. That means the fashion world that Vogue has been the primary chronicler of can’t exist in an elite bubble, and also that purveyors of luxury fashion like Neiman Marcus are left scrambling to satisfy customers’ demand for social-media-fueled instant gratification.

One of the biggest changes the internet has wrought on the fashion industry is to open it up beyond insiders. On the sales side of things, of course, the industry always reached out to a broad audience, but to disseminate the images from its runway shows and show how clothes could—or should—be worn, it typically relied on a coterie of gatekeepers, including venerated fashion magazines such as Vogue.

But now anyone with a wifi connection and a blog, or even just an Instagram account, can do the same, and it has changed fashion industry’s dynamics in ways that have clearly rankled at Vogue and ruffled feathers at Neiman Marcus.

A few prominent bloggers, including Susie Lau (aka susiebubble), Bryan Yambao (Bryanboy), and Shea Maria (peaceloveshea) have hit back at Vogue, while The Cut also jumped in on their side.

For one thing, Vogue itself benefits from bloggers. It regularly publishes street-style snaps of fashion bloggers at the shows that rack up page views and please Vogue’s own paid advertisers.

There’s also some irony, Yambao pointed out, in the fact that editors—including those at Vogue—are often among those stopping to pose for photos.

The difference between editors and bloggers, Lau said separately, is that bloggers don’t have prestigious publications behind them. And you know what? They don’t need to anymore.

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