Monday, March 31, 2014

Monetizing the blogosphere... or who killed Street Style

Last Sunday I went to a talk on "digital media in fashion" which took place during the Vogue Festival. It mainly revolved around fashion brands using social media as a promotion tool. I guess the talk must've achieved its purpose because it definitely got me thinking (which is not an easy task for me on a Sunday morning)....
About 5 years ago when I found myself at fashion week for the very first time, everyone wanted to shoot street style. Scott Schuman was already a celebrity and Susie Bubble would still stop to pose for photographs. London fashion week was full of peacocks (of the east London variety) and Paris was.. well.. its incredible self. 5 years on and everything is still more or less the same except that street style and the digital revolution have been monetized to the nth degree. Instagram followers are bought, every outfit post is tagged and cookied, books have been published and bloggers have moved into the brave new world of agency representation.
Lately I've found myself growing increasingly cold towards street style. The reason being – it stopped being ‘street’ a long time ago. Both personal and street style blogging are now by-products of carefully cultivated marketing strategies. It is normal practice for an A-list blogger to pop into the showroom before the show and choose an outfit. It is not shameful and it is not frowned upon. It has become a norm. Street style photographers fully aware of this, still continue snapping away outside the shows, and those photos are then sold and re-sold to digital and print publications and only a very lazy photog has not yet jumped on this bandwagon.
My ‘light bulb’ moment happened when I was showing my blog to a fashion-conscious but blogless friend of mine for the very first time. She pointed at a photograph of a well-known stylist that I had taken in Paris and asked “do you actually like what she is wearing??” I looked at the photograph and realised that in actual fact I did not like that outfit one little bit. It was not my style, it was not something that I would ever wear or aspire to. Why did I take and post that photograph in the first place? Because that stylist’s name is ‘googled’ a lot and every time I posted a picture of her on my blog, it increased the traffic through search engines. It didnt even occur to me that I was losing the integrity of my blog by posting rubbish that even I wasn’t that interested in. I then decided to give personal style a go and post a few outfits, with all the tags, cookies and bells & whistles. Turns out – not really my thing – I am not really that interested in my mugshot being plastered on the internet in 900x300 resolution and lets face it - I just don't have the commitment required.  Instagram is already doing a brilliant job at satisfying my daily narcissistic cravings.
I find it quite interesting how much blogging has evolved in the last decade. These days it is almost like ‘do it as a career or go home!’ People are no longer interested in a half-ass*d visual diary. They want a blog to look like a professional publication. Perhaps rightfully so, perhaps not. I personally used to quite enjoy Tavi’s DIY approach to blogging even when she was already on the cover of POP magazine. I find it fascinating that these days almost every punter you stop and ask to photograph on Brick Lane will ask you in great amount of detail what the photograph is for, when it will be published and if they could have your business card….and all of this is before they even agree to have their photograph taken!
Perhaps if I made money blogging I would have a different view on this matter. Perhaps my opinions stem from ignorance. I simply don’t know…What I do know is that things tend to become boring when they become predictable and I can most definitely tell you that right now the blogosphere is turning pretty darn boooooriiiiiing!     
So like with any evolution I guess the big question is…where to from now?! Will babies soon be born with an instagram and a twitter account and a 1,000 followers ‘welcome package’?? xx