the insider issue

thinking — Danielle on December 1, 2011 at 6:07 pm

In fashion, insider status is coveted by those who lack it and flaunted by those who have it. In a business that makes a shrine to exclusion, the idea of being omitted from a list or unseated at a fashion show is on a par with being excommunicated.

As someone who had the chance to walk inside the establishment, albeit in a second-tier fashion city, I subscribed to the insider glossy – being inside was good for business. I attended all different types of fashion events, took home bags of free swag, met more and more insiders, until I became a recognized feature on the scene in that city. Initially, the novelty of insider status delighted me – then I was pleased because I found I was gaining some recognition for my work and even some clients.

Everything was great. But weirdly, after just two years of this, I was beginning to recognize diminishing returns. I began to notice that I wasn’t meeting as many new people, simply because most of the same people were in attendance at these things. After I had established a core group of friends, events became less about exploring the unknown and began to become less exciting, more routine. How terrible to be jaded to generosity and special treatment so quickly.

The other thing that I began to be frustrated with was how this new layer of social obligation was obscuring the original objective of blogging. I was doing a lot of posts just because I felt I should. I felt my will-to-blog ebb and saw my traffic flatline. Last year, I gradually tried to take myself out of the loop, but it wasn’t until I moved to London that I truly got back “outside”.

Arriving in a new city where I was a bonafide outsider, I consciously decided not to ingratiate myself with the local PR companies and not to attend fashion events in a “professional” capacity. I quickly discovered that the intramural blogging league that had become so firmly established in Toronto also existed in London, and I didn’t want to risk being a part of it. I had come to see insider status as more of a liability than an advantage. On twitter, you can see it all go down in real time – fashion bloggers posting in lockstep following an event, the content being dictated by publicists instead of celebrating the individual creativity of the bloggers. Insider blogging has begun to resemble the rather faded, rote status of most printed fashion publications. I call it mid-level blogging. Being inside is toxic to creativity.

The most interesting stuff in fashion blogging (and fashion generally) is happening at the edges – the top tier and the off-the-radar zones are where it is at. Looking at professionals I admire like Cathy Horyn, Tommy Ton, Dries Van Noten, Tilda Swinton – these are insiders who know how to behave like outsiders – and their work is outstanding as a result. I love finding fresh, creative bloggers who haven’t yet been exposed to the insider treatment – their work is guileless, uncontrived, often uneven in quality – but far more fascinating than the middle-of-the-packers.

This past year in London I got my blogger swagger back. I rediscovered the reasons why I started blogging in the first place and I upped my game. I zagged where everyone else zigged – not many fashion bloggers write long posts, so I write longer posts. I endeavour to include as much original material as I can in every post, writing or illustration. Before I post anything, I ask myself two questions. Is it universal? The best way to bust the blogger bubble is to be relevant regardless of location. Is it atemporal? Will this post be interesting if you read it six seconds after it’s posted, what about six months, what about six years later? I consciously try to eliminate as many exclusions as I can. Because my social life is more varied than ever before and the stimuli I seek out are unique to my own proclivities, I am constantly discovering inspiration in unexpected places. I find my life more interesting now – and my blog reflects that.

The response to the changes I’ve made has been wonderful – but even if I didn’t notice any growth at all, it would have still been worthwhile because I love Final Fashion more than ever. I am finally writing the blog I’ve always wanted to read – because I am an outsider again.

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    15 Comments »

    1. Danielle, I love this post. Astute and intelligent as always, and such an accurate insight to the fashion blogging pack. You mojo is truly here and evident on Final Fashion, and why I love to read it. I believe the phrase it “loving your work”. :) xxxx

      Comment by Jo (Dexterous Diva) — December 2 2011 @ 6:33 pm
    2. Another great post, Danielle. I always enjoy longer reads in general as it tell more layers to a story, allowing you to spend more time with it :)

      Comment by Wendy — December 2 2011 @ 7:16 pm
    3. I can always count on your posts to be relevant, thought-provoking and well written, not disappointed at all with this one! Spot on.

      Comment by Rebecca — December 2 2011 @ 9:22 pm
    4. You have put your finger on what had begun to bother me about my blog, which has been on hiatus since early October. I especially like the criteria you’ve set for yourself in that last paragraph.

      Comment by Terri — December 2 2011 @ 11:09 pm
    5. And your love for the blog shows.

      I’m so glad I found your blog when you were into it again – each of the articles I’ve read just shined as special things; they were (well, are) something to come back to in a week/month/year.

      You also touched on something I’d like to see explored more in the (fashion and beauty) blogs – we, the readers, come to blogs because we don’t find the magazines sincere or catering to our interests.
      If the bloggers slide into the same, dictated-by-companies banter, all public announcements and serving the same old, same old (brand X or Y constantly)…

      What are the readers going to do?

      Stick for a while and then leave?
      Rebel?
      Accept their ‘fate’ and keep on reading these oh-no-of-course-we’re-not-product-placements?

      Comment by Ana — December 3 2011 @ 12:30 am
    6. Thanks everyone for all your comments. A couple of postscripts on reviewing the post:

      1. I am obviously not exactly a team player, haha.

      2. It’s really important to live a life that’s not just fashion – there are so many other disciplines and a world full of experiences. These are the things that inject new life into the craft of fashion.

      Comment by Danielle — December 3 2011 @ 6:52 pm
    7. I supposed being an outsider is liberating; nobody expects you to behave in a certain way or be nice to the people who’s throwing the party.

      Just yesterday, I was watching my twitter feed and noticed all the Toronto Insiders (including the fashion insiders) were reporting about the fabulous anniversary party of a local gourmet supermarket that they were attending. Not one single person dared mention that the exact same supermarket was shut down for rat and roach infestation 1 1/2 month ago.
      The only word that comes to my mind is ‘Omerta’.

      And I gotta confess that I find your blog more fun to read after you went to London ;)

      Comment by Elle — December 8 2011 @ 3:38 am
    8. A very interesting post, working in fashion then blogging about it when I get home has made me think that I need more varied hobbies! Although events in London are fun, they can follow a similar pattern and I’m trying to be a lot more selective and get back to featuring content determined by myself. Will definitely be checking out more of your posts, I love a good read!

      Comment by Kb — December 9 2011 @ 9:06 pm
    9. […] of IFB since it began, but lately I’m beginning to feel a real gulf between IFB content and my own identity as a fashion blogger. This list pretty much confirms that I am no longer a “real” fashion […]

      Pingback by final fashion » click click – 14-12-11 — December 14 2011 @ 5:12 pm
    10. I have been drafting a post about this for I don’t know how long but I’ve been unable to capture the situation quite like you have. Thank you for writting this up. Everything you’ve said I completely agree with. cheers to staying on the fringes :) For once the grass insn’t greener on the other side!

      Comment by Eliza — December 15 2011 @ 4:39 pm
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    13. You’ve pretty much summed up the problem with Toronto’s fashion scene. It’s just the same people at every event. I understand that the end goal is usually to generate publicity for the product/event/designer, etc. but they need to stop navel gazing so much.

      Comment by donna — December 30 2011 @ 4:45 pm
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