Before I launch into a quite possibly ill-conceived rant, something positive: Absolutely LOVE the Twitter-inspired cover and spread by Steven Meisel in the December 2009 edition of Vogue Italia. It has just the right level of kitchiness, it is very fitting for the times, and the unconventional photo-collage cover, not cluttered by text, is wonderful (although it probably won't be the actual cover used on newsstands?). Of course this didn't stop lots of users with names like 'couturohomme' on The Fashion Spot (oh yes, The Fashion Spot, that invite only site for fashion *insiders*) slating it for looking 'amateur' (well, duh!) and unglamourous and 'un-Vogue' and all the rest of it, but in fact it's exactly this sort of thing which makes Vogue Italia so fun and interesting. Sure, Italian Vogue hardly sells any copies, but it exerts an influence well beyond its relatively small circulation thanks to its status as a sort of 'industry bible,' and its less commercial nature allows for more originality and creativity than certain other editions of Vogue, whose succession of heavily air-brushed, blonde Hollywood actresses is perhaps the ultimate yawn-fest.
And now for ranting. This blog has not been updated for over a week partly because I've been occupied with moving everything back to London for the holidays (and then occupied with enjoying being back in London for longer than just a fleeting weekend, which is quite something; but no more on that, because the inadequacy of everywhere in the UK other than London is something which I've gone on about quite enough already) and partly because I've been feeling rather ambivalent towards fashion and fashion blogging just recently. I'm not going to stop updating here, but various things about fashion, and blogging in particular, have been getting me down. Hapsical is about originality, creativity, intelligence and fun in fashion, but it seems to be increasingly difficult to find things to post which fit the bill. This is more to do with me than to do with the state of fashion, and it stems from the fact that I've had less time to cut through the crap and research cool stuff as studying now dominates my life, but still...
I am sick of PR nonsense clogging up my BlackBerry inbox. Fashion PRs still have a lot to learn about communicating with bloggers. Fair game to deluge paid journalists with information about your festive egg cups*, but this is my personal blog and I'm not part of that game, whereby PRs soften up journalists (with freebies, free drinks and the like) in return for column inches about whatever they're plugging. Except of course bloggers don't get any positive 'incentivising,' they just get the information-dump, and the associated burden of having to constantly direct it all into the trash folder. I'm not saying bloggers should be treated the same as journalists (although many PRs are yet to realise that coverage on certain big blogs is much more valuable than a tiny mention in a moderately circulated magazine) and I'm not at all interested in being 'bribed' for coverage (unless Prada is involved... but, paradoxically, they would know better anyway), but what I do know is that at the moment there seems to be something fundamentally wrong with the system.
* This is no joke. Liberty is one of the top cool-luxury shops in London (incidentally somewhere where I will never shop because of several rude staff encounters) so I nearly had a fit when I received this email, among many others, from them: "Eat your eggs in style this Christmas! In fashion black is the new black. Where eggs are concerned boiled is the new scrambled. These egg cups come in a selection of cute animals, from Badgers to Guinea Pigs. You can get your hands on these at.." Oh dear.
The depressing thing is that a large number of blogs are acting as unthinking mouthpieces for all this PR rubbish, re-reporting almost verbatim a lot of the press material which I also receive. I don't know if it's a lack of imagination on the part of the blogger, or the hope of scoring freebies or invites to events, or merely a way to avoid going without updates, or perhaps a combination of all three, but whatever way it's unappealing. There are lots of amazing fashion blogs out there which are a pleasure to read, but I think it's going to be increasingly challenging for these bloggers to maintain their authenticity and 'purity,' as PRs get ever more interested in blogs, and escalate their (inappropriate) assault on bloggers.
Retailers are also advancing on bloggers with their affiliate schemes, about which I have mixed feelings. It's all very futuristic: whereas the effect on sales of, say, taking out a print ad or gaining magazine coverage can only be measured indirectly, 'sponsored links' from blogs mean that retailers can directly attribute particular sales to particular blog posts. It is worth bearing this in mind when you find a blogger 'personally' recommending something (with an accompanying link to buy the item from Net-a-Porter/Luisa via Roma/Oki-Ni/Yoox/Amazon or wherever) since more often than not it will be by no means an impartial recommendation, but rather will be attached to a sponsored link which will earn commission for the blogger if you make a purchase after following their link. You can tell when you hover the cursor over the link: if it starts just, say, http://www.net-a-porter.com/.... then it's a regular link, but if you get some weird code instead of just the url of the store showing up, then there are some vested financial interests at play. Of course it helps the online retailers in terms of generating sales, and who says bloggers aren't to make money from their endeavours (although I might add, I don't!), but I find the whole thing rather distasteful, especially since no disclosure is required on the part of the blogger whose supposedly personal recommendations are, in fact, cash-motivated.
I suppose what it all boils down to is that I want to blog about the creativity, originality, quirkiness and whatnot of fashion, based solely on what I genuinely believe to be blog-worthy, but this involves a constant, tiring battle against unsolicited commercialism, from PRs, retailers, and others. I want to read blogs based on similar principles (and/or based on personal style and experiences), but I fear such blogs will become increasingly short in supply as commercialism continues to draw the life blood out of fashion blogging.
I also want to talk about the crushing idiocy of commenters on some fashion blogs (although I should emphatically add not Hapsical's commenters, save my one anonymous friend who is hellbent on contradicting something about Lanvin which the Lanvin PR told me); the fact that *everybody* fancies themselves as a fashion expert these days (I certainly don't!) thanks to TV shows and other media coverage; the dire state of men's high street fashion; the fact that I can find *nothing* to wear at the moment; the fact that Christopher Kane (whose designs I absolutely love) keeps on taking something away from that by making more and more ill-conceived comments about bloggers; the hideous, utterly inexplicable, inexcusable plasticy rubbish-sack lining of an otherwise rather good Jil Sander x Uniqlo bomber jacket... but after a point too much ranting becomes unhealthy, and unattractive, so I will stop. For now.