Oct 2nd, 2016, 11:56 AM

Vogue Editors Clash with Fashion Bloggers

By Niha Reddy
Image Credit: Shutterstock
If street style is the answer to high fashion and digital the answer to print, fashion bloggers are the voices of democracy among the fashion elite.

I once interviewed for a job at Vogue. I planned my outfit for weeks, consulted my roundtable of fashionable lady friends for their advice. In the end, I wore black Sergio Rossi boots, a Ralph Lauren Purple Label grey cashmere pencil skirt, a Theory leather jacket and The Most Beautiful Thing I Own: a burgundy, calf skin Fendi 3Jours handbag (a gift, as of this writing, I do not have a trust fund).

Where did I find inspiration to put together what is probably the most expensive and fashion forward outfit I’ve ever worn? Am I a fashion genius who is wasting her time in grad school learning bigger words when I should be styling the ladies of Fifth Avenue?

The answer is fashion bloggers (though these days "digital influencer" is a more accurate title given that some of them are only on Instagram). I love fashion bloggers. They are eye candy when you’re having a bout of “I have nothing to wear.” They’re projections of the light of heart and fancy free selves we wish we could be. They jet set. They FROW. They meet-and-greet and live to tell the Instagram story. The blouse I wore to the Vogue interview was a white, Vince mixed-media beauty that is the stuff of minimalist dreams. I fell irrationally in love with it one evening while scrolling through the archives of Damsel in Dior, my favorite fashion blogger.

Vince blouse as seen on Damsel in Dior. Image Credit: Damsel in Dior / Felicia Lasala

But Vogue is mad at fashion bloggers — and they really want you to know it. Then Vogue and Neiman-Marcus had a sleepover and now Neiman-Marcus is mad at fashion bloggers too.

If you missed it, Vogue knocked fashion bloggers for making paid appearances, for wearing borrowed outfits, and posing for street style photos. Yet all of this is common practice among models, musicians, actresses — and Vogue editors themselves. It is industry standard for brands to compensate celebrities, influencers and yes, even editors (though it's all very hush hush) to appear at their fashion shows or wear their clothes. Anyone who has ever heard the phrase "accessories closet" knows the folks who make use of it are simply borrowing from the magazine's photo shoots. These days, street style is just as, if not more, prevalent than high fashion shots. So why the double standard, especially considering editors are some of the most photographed people in street style?

Personal branding is big business these days and it’s clear that magazine editors are capitalizing on their prestigious job titles to create names for themselves that will outlast their business cards. Not only does Vogue perpetuate the "inauthentic" and "desperate" culture of street style photography (to paraphrase the words of the Vogue editors) by partaking in the photog frenzy, they also publish the images in their magazines positioning them as “inspiration” for their millennial audience, the largest demographic for street style photography. 

Street style outside Paris Fashion Week 2013. Image Credit: Vogue

Vogue has even made cover girls out of fashion bloggers. In addition to being the first fashion blogger ever to land a Vogue cover, The Blonde Salad's Chiara Ferragni has graced the covers of various publications across Condé Nast not once, but six times. 

Image Credit: Huffington Post Style Canada

Vogue Paris even did a "day in the life" style video following her around for Milan Fashion Week.

Chiara Ferragni : A day in the life of the famous blogger at Milan Fashion Week | #VogueFollows

The most famous example of the possible trajectory of fashion blogging is Tavi Gevinson, the prodigal fashion blogger who gained fame and access to this exclusive world by age 13. Her blog Style Rookie garnered attention from 54,000 readers daily before she graduated to her online magazine Rookie which saw 3.5 million hits a day at its peak. Anna and Karl themselves so warmly welcomed Gevinson into the fashion world while these hyper bundled writers, photographers, entrepreneurs, social media ninjas, branding experts and style mavens were left off the proverbial list.

Perhaps a 13-year-old taking pictures from her bedroom in the suburbs of Chicago poses no threat while these digital influencers, gaining notoriety and attention from brands and followers alike, if left alone, could steal the crown from their fashion thrones. In fact, it’s already happening. These bloggers and influencers have garnered attention from millions, while making millions creating everything from clothing lines, shoes, bags, jewelry, stationary and lucrative book deals to opening dessert cafés

Tavi Genvinson front row at Rodarte. Image Credit: Observer

Interestingly, who is missing from this conversation? The fashion designers themselves. Perhaps they’re busy placing the final touches on this season’s latest, but I would guess they’re not too bothered by the rise of fashion blogger/digital influencer fame. Bloggers and influencers collaborate with designers and brands all the time. Damsel in Dior created a capsule collection with Splendid. Gevinson consulted on the wildly successful Comme des Garçons x Target line. Leandra Medine of Man Repeller collaborated with New York designer Kimberly Taylor on an entire fall collection. Taylor astutely says, “I think [fashion bloggers] are tremendously influential tastemakers at this moment and are a great way for designers to reach the exact audiences they want to expose their designs to.” 

Kimberly Taylor x Man Repeller. Image Credit: NY Fashionisa Girl

While I waited for my interview to start in the lobby just outside the sealed glass doors of the Vogue offices, Anna Wintour herself stepped out of the elevator and into the lobby. For a brief moment of time in my small life, it was just Anna and me on the 25th floor of the Condé Nast building in downtown New York City. She looked at me and looked away. I stared down at my phone in my lap and tried not to breathe too much of her air. Again, she looked at me and looked away. She looked at me a third time, paused, pursed her lips in the iconic way that she does, and stepped back onto the elevator.

It occurs to me now, in the midst of this blogger/editor power struggle for fashion notoriety that perhaps, it was not judgment but disdain on her face for yet another millennial infiltrating her hallways, her kingdom, and our collective contribution to the dawn of a new era in fashion. 

By the way, I didn't get the job. They told me I was overqualified. Go figure.