Do Fashion Blogs Threaten the Power of Old Media Fashion Journalism?
Ac.Stet sat down today with a totally evil-tasting death-by-chocolate cupcake from his neighborhood bakery Big Booty Bakery in Chelsea and became instantly – but non-sequittorly – inspired to become pensive on a particular fashion-y perspective of the Old Media vs New Media debate.
With the proliferation of so many fashion blogs to rival the explosion of spiderwebs recently found at Wills Point texas (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/31/us/31spider.html?em&ex=1188705600&en=fbf002a0bb300d1f&ei=5087), should old media fashion editors and reporters worry about the power of info and opinion shifting to the hands of the layman?
If you look carefully at what fashion bloggers are doing, the majority of the sites are more of a knee-jerk variety. Their viewpoints and world-views are merely reactions to what the established fashion press have presented in the media.
There are numerous categories of such fash blogs – or flogs, Ac.Stet’s shorthand -. Most however, fall within the bracket of those which are mostly based on everyday observations (e.g. The Sartorialist) of what is happening at a fashion event, or what people are wearing on the streets, at such events, which is very Bill Cunningham of NYT (old media).
There is also another breed of bloggers like Says The Asian Leprechaun or Bobble Bee, function like a diary chronicle of what happened that day in their life in the fashion industry.
There is very little in-depth analysis, or insightful commentary
that digs deeper within their observations. It’s very straight-forward reporting, more like a general surveillance.
That is the functionality of these fashion bloggers, each acts as one of the thousand-eye of a digital peacock in proud display of its majestic plummage. All very showy, not really an eye but a feathered abstraction of a known idea, but collectively, they form a full-fledged pattern of the general landscape in which they inhabit.
Should fashion blogs – i.e. flogs – be, er, flogged? Should the Old Media fashion journalists be worried? No.
Where fashion bloggers fail, old media fashion press must deliver and supersede with more intelligent writing and analytical writing (i.e. forget about which colors of the rainbow goes best with which body-types or personality-types – let the bloggers fight themselves silly over them – go deep instead, and talk about the evolution of a hue, the suggestion of a Freudian tendency and how it translates to mills, global demand and which section of the buying community (race-wise, age-wise, or otherwise) will be piqued. Think of great fashion writers like Cathy Horyn (previously of Vanity Fair) and Guy Trebay of NYT, Ben Reardon of i-D, Teri Agins of The Washington Post, Lynn Yaeger of the Village Voice and Judith Thurman of The New Yorker. (I was about to mention Robin Givhan in the same bracket but after her rather silly, uncharacteristically shallow and abruptly-ended piece on fashion blogging in this month’s Harper’s Bazaar – by the way, what’s gone wrong with this once edited by Carmel Snow mag??!? The Simpsons wearing couture??!?? – I decided to drop her).
But it is a powerful signal that these old media fash press must heed. The Digital Age is upon all of us and none in the universe is spared, let alone the fashion industry.
Good solid fashion writing is no longer enough. Like the cult of Trans-Singularity (of which Ac.Stet is a devout devotee), it must merge with technology steadfastly as one. Old Media must embrace, support and purport New Media and eventually merge as one. A singular entity more empowerful, efficient, advanced and intelligent that both. Neo-Fashion Journalism is something that grounds itself on hundreds of years of clothedom history and wisdom of research and analysis, and cross-fertilizes with the over-arching octopussal reach of the Internet, the unison enabled by digitization, the anarchy of technology which in turn supports the democracy of individual expression.
Looking at what Elle Magazine has recently done is sad because all its rejuvenation consists of is but a glossed-up cosmetic lift, an instantly recognizable mimicry of what Vogue is right now.
If you flip the pages of not just Elle Magazine but any high-fashion glossy, you find that fashion journalism is surprising old fashion compared to the advertisers who are putting ads into their very pages. Look at the advertisements shot by Steven Meisel and Steven Klein for the likes of say Diesel Jeans or Dolce & Gabbana. These ads suggests an impending future of gleaming technocracy and super-erudite machines … and then you flip the page and find some fashion writer waxing lyrical about what color handbag you need to carry to match the color of each lipstick from each different fashion brand. Well, 3000AD advertising meets fashion editorial circa 1957. Very sad, indeed.
Elle Magazines and other magazines puffing at the dust clouds of the Vogue-leaguers … We don’t need another Vogue. We need a brave fashion press to become say, http://www.3773.com (if we can spell ELLE in analogue), and lead the rest of the fashion glossies in a brand new direction.
Otherwise, the fashion press – much like the ignorant public in reaction to the space-age futurism suggested by Stanley Kubrick and Pierre Cardin in the 1960s – would have missed the oportune time to lead the way to Fashion’s Future.
Let us not have the future come to us and pass us. Again.