Blogging, today, means two, different but complementary, things : some advertise brands they either love or paid by while others attempt to investigate, analyse, debate over said brands or fashion/industry related issues. Needless to say, the latter category is neither paid nor recognised. As Caroline De Maigret put it in Les Inrocks: “Betty Autier is in advertising. That’s it. She’s more of an internet-model than a fashion blogger. The only difference (between me and her) is that she’s branding herself whilst I was depending on bookers and agencies when I got into modeling. Betty is her own booking agency, her own paparazzi”.
Betty Autier is no unicorn though. Many others fall into this category : Jeanne Damas, Camille Charrière, Pernille Teisbeck and, last but certainly not least, Chiara Ferragni. The first two are French. In a world where Instagram is the new fashion and relevancy thermometer, they sure do well. Camille Charrière’s account lists 410k followers, which is close to Garance Doré’s 464k and nearly twice as much as Susie Bubble (264k). These girls are business women in their own right. Armies of one. Neat and clear aesthetics coupled with a glamorous lifestyle seem the perfect combo to attract fashionistas, beginners or experts. And brands.
Through sponsored posts, bloggers’ role changes : they no longer « do as they told » but instead alter brand image by creating content, advising brands over their following, their habits, their tastes. Echoing this sentiment, Loïc Prigent says, ironically, « You don’t say blogger, you say content manager« . Brands know this. Since the hierarchy between brands and consumers no longer apply, where the frontier between « pros » and « amateurs » is blurred, brands need to be aware about what’s going on Instagram for the sake of their communication and image. Damage control.
However, the other group of fashion bloggers sings a different song. the French landscape is a near no man land : Tendances de Mode by Lisa Huret leads the way with its sophisticated approach but when she dares criticizing the last Saint Laurent campaign, the brand sees red and issues a cease and desist immediately. Turns out Philippe Nericault was only half right when he said “criticism is easy and art is difficult”. Everything is difficult.
Others manage to voice their opinion : No Ticket for Fashion Show by Marion Dufour-Lahore, ex Marie Claire, or Le Cas Stelda to name a few. These voices matter not because they are rare but because they keep brands and creatives on their toes: if everybody and everything is deemed « wonderful », « amazing », « edgy » by everyone, what will happen, what will we say when something really is “amazing”? How would we know?
Now let’s talk money. Who actually makes a living as a blogger? Camille Charrière deciphers : “There are 3 ways to monetize a fashion blog. First, ads. The blogger is therefore paid according to traffic and clicks. I don’t do much of it: it’s not pretty and the money isn’t great either. The second way is through affiliated links. When I wear something, I generally put an hyperlink towards the e-shop. Whenever someone buys the garment through this link, I get a 3 to 8 % commission”. Most bloggers work with Reward Style, a leading referencing platform. The last and most lucrative, way, to earn money through blogging is either sponsored posts or long term partnerships with brands. As Kenza Sadoun-el Glaoui (La revue de Kenza) put it “it goes from 800 to 10 000 euros a month”. In short, situations vary, money is often scarce but some do better than others. For Betty Autier, blogging turned into a full time job. Rumour is, she would earn between 300 and 500k a year (Les Inrocks). Dream figures that would explain why 20 000 blogs are created everyday. Tough to get noticed.
But once you do, perks are great. Often seen as « big sisters » by their fans, many built links with their community, centered around the blogger persona, real or constructed. In 2014, Chiara Ferragni’s shoe line « The Blond Salad » grew 5M$ ! « These bloggers succeed where so many independent labels failed. Being aspirational, inducing an emotional charge to the garment while still being economically profitable’’ decrypts Lise Huret.
We may also note the case of Jeanne Damas, blogger turned fashion muse for Jacquemus or Roger Vivier. These girls promote themselves, put their face and cult following on the market while still creating brand content. They alter or complement the meaning behind brands and pieces. Jeanne Damas, again, is rumored to be paid between 3000 and 10000 euros by Instagram post (Marie Claire).
Fashion “journalists” are, on the other hand, at the bottom on this food chain. But for them it’s not about the money. Rather they see their blog as a resume, a chance to get noticed or, instead, as a pet project fueled by passion for fashion and writing. But why should we care since they are like us, amateurs?
Daily we face countless images, information, regrams, post and so on. To face such stream, we need people to skim through it, who put order and context. Critic is also useful for designers. They check the society temperature, see how people react to clothes and brand propositions. Critics are a prism through which fashion aesthetics and references are deciphered, explained, digested. Being between the runway and the racks is what they prefer. Hard to put a price on judgment and opinions. And designers fear that.
Being creative implies surprising, shocking, disturbing rules and conventions. Therefore the process behind is secretive. Clothes is the designer’s response to what’s going on. Its no democracy but rather 1950s Russia. As Thomas Paris put it best « Ego matters most »(Paris, Manager la créativité, Broché 2010). Ego is a scary word. Often pit against “Teamwork”, it doesn’t necessarily mean braggadocio persona and diva outbursts. Rather, here, ego refers to what drives men and women to keep pushing and follow their vision. This kind of ego is vital to designers. In a world where nobody knows what works and what won’t, where everybody doubts everybody and everything, Ego is what allows you to make silence around you and your approach. As such, it seems normal creatives don’t listen to critics. Worse, they don’t acknowledge them.
Fashion means different things for different people: some like it for pure aesthetic reasons, for the beauty at its core, its upfront display of grace and glamour. However, if we emphasize it a contemporary cultural expression, then interpretation and analysis should apply. That’s my purpose : analyzing, deciphering meanings and codes. As Anja Aronowsky Cronberg (Vestoj) put it, that doesn’t mean Fashion is intellectual but rather that there is room for deep significance and is thus worthy of research. Fashion is more often than not defined as superficial, obscene regarding prices or models’ weight while it is, ironically, a reflection of what we, humans and moral judges, live and create: infernal consumptions patterns, decadent pursuit of pleasures and so on. Everything changes. Rapidly. Fashion reflects that and the frailty that comes with it. Not trying to explain this, digest it for the casual blog reader or the die-hard Gucci fanatic, would be a loss.