We’re four years into fashion blogging’s California Dream. In 2006, fashion blogging was obscure and virtually ignored. In 2008, the mainstream fashion media turned a handful of street style and personal style bloggers into stars. Brands jumped in on the hype and blog campaign budgets burgeoned. For a while now it’s seemed like even minor bloggers can score major partnerships and c/o has become common. Going pro began to seem like an easy route to fame and fortune and self-help sources set the standard. And standard was what we got.
Gold rush mentality is for imitators, not innovators. Thus, the current state of fashion blogging: a future archive of indistinguishable individuals wielding SLRs, and a rotation of affectations in lieu of the new. The division of attention is yielding diminishing returns for middle-of-the-packers – brands are bailing in favour of celebrities, the industry is losing enthusiasm for blog coverage, readers are disgruntled and comment culture has devolved.
Starting a fashion blog in 2006 was delusional because no one was doing it… launching a fashion blog in 2012 is even more delusional because everyone is doing it. If you’re in fashion, you should know which edge of the curve is worth entering. Which means that every fashion blogger with any sense is wondering what’s next for our medium.
Style blogging is not dead. Street style photography is as old as photography itself – it won’t die, and there will be successors to the current crop. The well-dressed girl with the mysterious power to sell us whatever is on her back is as old as time and as today’s it girls turn into women, tomorrow’s it girl personal style bloggers will replace them.
Extraordinary talents like Rumi Neely and Tommy Ton will always find an audience. In the past decade, what happened was that technology created a gap, briefly allowing more ordinary talents a taste of notoriety while the media establishment struggled with transition. Now, the tide is reversing; instead of blogger-turned-professional, we have entered the era of professional-turned-blogger. As established venues for their work disappear, experienced creatives are out of necessity, getting over their technophobia. They are in the perfect position to benefit from the rise of individualized media at the expense of a masthead. They bring their skills and reputations with them, significantly raising the top standard of work we see online.
The result is that the barriers to enter fashion, which were artificially low for the past five years are returning to their usual place – high. Amateurs aspirants who managed to slip in through the internet’s side door now have to rely on some combination of hard work, talent, connections, money, beauty, good timing and luck to stay inside fashion’s good graces. Just like everyone else.