In the last month alone, I have chatted with three bloggers over coffee (that is the usual payment for my expertise these days). Each one is relatively well-known and well-togged in luxury labels. They have asked me to go through their sites and tell them what I think. Even as they attempt at garnering more readers on their commendable sites, none are willing to listen.
Just like everywhere else in the world, fashion blogging is getting to be a lucrative business. Two sites stand out here: missmalini.com and highheelconfidential.com. Both of these have been around for a few years, and have a steady set of advertisers. Both are largely pictures of red-carpet appearances and little else.
Is there room for pictures of celebrities when feature supplements of every newspaper are inundated with them daily? Yes, because of paid news, most newspapers do not mention the designer or the label the actor is wearing. This kills the idea of a freebie dress for the celebrity and publicity for the label. I suspect this is the only reason why these sites are as popular as they are even though I do envy the kind of money they make.
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There are a handful of other sites I have scoured. I will keep their names private as a few have requested me to. Each of these bloggers is a street-style fashion icon. They love fashion and style, glamour and the high street in equal measures. Each of their blogs is, at best, random scribblings.
One offers a handbag review sometime, and a fashion show review at another. They have not been given the handbag’s details by the label neither have they attended the show. It is a matter of anything goes, for most of these.
Fashion bloggers became all the rage less than a decade ago. The Sartorialist, Bryanboy and Aimee Song now enjoy legendary statuses and, according to wwd.com, a six-figure salary in US dollars. They even get paid to attend shows. There are one or two Indian red-carpet blogs who do get paid for promotions, but again, it is a paid-news venture.
There isn’t a single site I can think of that is a specialty site, and a reasonable success at that. The singular reason is that none of the blogs focus on content. Individuals have just decided to launch them without a definite game plan of offering something different or any idea of providing news. (I do enjoy fashionscandal.com immensely, it is unabashed gossip and most of it is hugely reliable.)
Just as any business, the entrepreneur needs to give the customer something that doesn’t hitherto exist. In today’s digital age, news is easy to gather and curate. You can Google it, Wiki it or just follow it on Twitter. This is where your expertise is most valued. You need to create your domain, your specialty, and then shine at it.
There is much criticism of blogging internationally too. Last year, Suzy Menkes wrote in The New York Times about how different bloggers were from journalists (“black crows” us, referring to the sea of black the fashion industry usually sports, and “fashion peacocks” bloggers who preen and pirouette outside fashion shows). The fatigue is showing among bloggers, it has been two years since New York Fashion Week has been cutting down on invites to them.
But mostly, with journalists becoming more digi-savvy and all media houses going online, bloggers can barely compete against venerated professional names. If Indian fashion bloggers don’t discover and develop their signature now, they never will.