Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Rise of the Fashion Blogger: Actual Democratization of the Fashion Industry?

- Barbara Leung

Bryan Boy front and centre; image courtesy of fashionbombdaily.com

In the discussion of the democratization of fashion, one cannot help but immediately refer to the emergence and acceptance of bloggers in the main current of the fashion industry. Blogs, in general, simply serve as an online format to communicate and present ideas, and have been on the rise of creation since 2005, with over 80 000 created per day during that time (Cantone). This insurgence of blogs has unveiled not only a subculture, but also hierarchical disruption in information dissemination and a new level of visual vicarious consumption. All of which leads to the question as to whether or not the fashion industry has been democratized, and has it been with the aid of the fashion blog.

The discussion of subculture leads back to the early work of British media theorist Dick Hebdige. It is not so much the actual subculture that is of interest, but rather, the incorporation/recuperation of the fashion blog subculture into the hegemonic culture. Recuperated in both commodity and ideological senses, the fashion blog has become a prevalent part of the press circle. Examples recall famed blogger Bryan Grey-Yambao of Bryan Boy quickly ushered to his seat with minutes to go until the start of the AW11 Costume National show.

Example of a street-style blog, The Sartorialist; image courtesy of http://thesartorialist.com

It is not to say that the recuperation has no results or effects on society. Vicarious consumption, as proposed by Veblen in the early 20th century, has been reformed in this context so as to include the age of the Internet. Visual consumption of the more leisurely and “in-crowd’s” experiences is possible what with photos from street style and meme blogs. But it is with this new form of visual vicarious consumption that a disruption of the hierarchy of information dissemination has occurred. Where the line of communication was once clear, from designer to journalist to consumer, it is now convoluted with the addition of the blogger who openly doubles as journalist and consumer. Recalling the example of Bryan Grey-Yambao being quickly ushered to his seat, it can be noted that Taylor Tomasi-Hill of Marie Claire arrived only minutes earlier but was only shown to a standing spot.

The question of actual democratization can then be examined by taking a closer look and redefining the leisure/in-crowd. The fashion blogger can be included in the population of the higher middle class when noting slow return on investment in creating a popular online persona. Therefore, it is not a fair representation of everyone that participates in the consumerism component of the industry. But with that said, the blog platform has allowed for the participation of the average person through commenting, and the collaboration of bloggers and brands illustrates that the “more normal” person can earn a place in the industry.

The public and bloggers expressed their disappointment with retailer Zara and their use of a fellow blogger's designs on their t-shirts, which resulted in the retail chain to pull the designs from the racks; image courtesy of DailyMail.co.uk

Amongst all of these observations, perhaps it is most important to state that the democratization of fashion has not truly been achieved. Admittedly, the rise of the fashion blogger amongst the ranks of industry has proved some sort of democratization. But the voice of the more common person is yet to be heard fully. The non-blogger can participate in democratization through commenting on entries; so it is best to say that the blog serves as an intermediary, as opposed to as a symbol of democratization of the industry.


  1. You must bear Chinese fashion style in mind that garments is one of the sorts of self expression . It's usually stated the to begin Chinese clothing with impression of the person is normally designed from his visual appeal.

  2. love this!