The truth of the matter is, I enjoy my long weekends by catching up some interesting reads and I stumbled upon an interesting article called “The Circus of Fashion” written by Suzy Menkes for T Magazine, and I can honestly say that my initial reaction was half-heartedly in agreement while mildly outraged to my own defence. Half-hearted agreement that fashion week have become somewhat of a circus due to those that dress-up only to elicit photographers for their photos. Outraged because my hobby of blogging, writing and sharing my style and years of time, effort and hard work was easily trashed as the rest of the fashion sheep herds, as Mz. Menkes so eloquently puts it. So the truth of the matter is…
While I hate to acknowledge that Menkes draws some good points, and this is probably one of the most common debates to go around, the obvious is that (not just Fashion) but our Lives are changing ever so quickly with the help of technology and all of its social media platforms to choose from. But if you wanted to speak of Fashion specifically, yes I noticed too that the industry is no longer closed off to the exclusive high class echelon. Do you remember those days when reading a Vogue you could only dream about (nevermind working for the Magazine) but even afford to buy any of the items they featured? I recall reading an article about why Magazines would indicate “Price available upon request” and the Editor that was interviewed said “it was to tell the Reader in a nice way that you probably cannot afford it” — so imagine fast-forwarding to where we are today, and now just about anyone that opens up a website and calls it a blog can pretty much create their own path to what was formerly ultra exclusive to even amateurs. So I can understand where a veteran like Menkes is perspectively viewing it from. Even until Facebook came about, I recall we had to work hard to get to anywhere, and especially in the Fashion Industry.
Before changing my professional career from Retail to HR – and I call it retail because in North America – the market was and still is not as big to call it “Fashion” per say.. and I remember before getting to what outsiders would even dub a “glamourous” job of a Buyer, I too, schlepped garment bags, and ran coffee errands, and after a few years I was fortunate enough to have gotten a taste of what a Buyer’s life was. But even still I was unsatisfied because retail is not fashion, there is no means to creativity, people are still catty, and you need an extra coating of thick skin to shield yourself. So I definitely appreciate a thing or two about working hard to get what you want.
But yes, to Menkes’ point, Fashion week has become something of a circus, with the number of streetstyle photographers moonlighting as paparazzi, waiting to catch their money shot of the familiar faces for the number of webzines that have made both bloggers and editorials alike famous. When do you recall seeing Editors being snapped by this many photographers, and when have we the fashion enthusiasts really taken such a keen interest in what Editors wore. So I agree partially but I think Menkes should give some credit to street style for bringing some color and life into the everyday black funeral-mistaken uniform of fashion week.
If Fashion is like Hollywood, Bloggers are the Reality Stars – but why is it that Hollywood can share the spotlight to Reality Personalities, and yet Fashion still has their door closed? I love that technology gives us the power and independence to create our own means, and that is one aspect that I truly value of blogs, the different perspective of others, and how they interpret their individual style. The photos can be inspiring – and who wouldn’t be? With magnificent clothes, streetstyle plays a vital phenom to today’s fashion culture. However I cannot say this time and time again, that sincerity and genuinity (just like an appreciation for authenticity versus imitation) – it is what drives quality content. So I can understand that for most Bloggers getting the shot is what it’s all about. But who are we to judge? Who is anyone to judge?
Where I disagree with Menkes is her perception of Bloggers, “the celebrity circus of people who are famous just for being famous” Bloggers, Editors and streetstyle Photographers alike all glorified for attention. But then when you think of a Blogger like Susie Bubble or streetstyle Photographer Tommy Ton where their work is merit itself. However it is inevitable that the world in evolving, traditions to any job and even the way companies look at career have modernized itself. There is a reason why Gen-Y is dubbed as the entrepreneurial generation – the movers and the shakers the Baby Boomers call it. One of the distinct traits of Gen-Y is taking matters into their own hands, if they are unable to find jobs that are to their liking they create their own. But I believe there should be a balance of the latter, just like everything in life. While I feel that Gen-Y are overtly confident and ambitious they also need to understand that not everything is handed on a silver platter, and not every job is a six figure salary and glamorous. There is a reason for traditional training and things you learn through experience, and while most would disagree, there is a part of Blogging and Bloggers which are a facade. A slight distortion between reality and the Blogsphere. Don’t even get me started on dubbing oneself these over-inflated titles CEO, VP, Director without actually working your way up for it. Since when did owning a blog mean you are the CEO? or the “Expert” anything. I mean, even a Doctor or an Engineer that go through eons of schooling and even after their Professional Designations still don’t call themselves “expert” anything.. these types of entitlement notions is what also portrays distortion to the realities of blogging, and why alot of youth decide not to pursue an education and open up a blog. Is this what it has come down to? I think bloggers need to be more openly honest and stop hiding behind these fancy titles. Is nothing sacred or credible anymore? Are we all just in it for the short haul? I guess another discussion for another day..
With so much virality and more youth losing interest quicker than having ADD; we sort of lost the better part of traditions. While most quality is probably compromised since nobody really give a crap, I think we also need to catch up with the hyper-speed of technology before we drown in it. The truth of the matter is, it will not disappear and if anything it will evolve even more until we hit a tipping point and maybe this is the Y2K we greatly anticipated back in 99 – and until then we can only reminisce about the ‘good old days’ and feel the nostalgia that Menkes is recalling.
I completely understand where Menkes is coming from but at the same time cannot help but feel like times have changed and if my parent generation is willing to embrace and accept, then why the shrewdity Mz Menkes? We will always have the extremes of both worlds; the insincere showoffs and genuine professionals. But amidst all that you have to take criticism with a grain of salt. And it is truly more about perspective than entitlement.
Whatever you do, do it because you love it and don’t do it for the wrong reasons. If your intentions are not genuine people will see right through you. One struggle that I encounter is trying to be as true without revealing my entire personal life or sounding too pompous or ‘self-aggrandizement’
There is not right or wrong at the moment of blogging; if you think about it, it is sort of a newly found profession (if taken to the next level) and those that have been around for awhile are still learning the ropes through trial and error. But like I mentioned before, there is a distortion that is not portrayed accurately in blogging. There is the partial truth, the good, the bad, the ugly and the untold. But I do believe that all good things come to an end, so for those that can get over the bump, it will only help them become stronger and those that had their share of fun will eventually weed off. We cannot let cynicsm and sarcasm of other closed-minded individuals get the best of us.
Here is an interesting stat I found on my LinkedIn feed a few months ago on Bloggers versus Magazines; Blogs are more than two times more likely (63%) than magazines (26%) to have persuaded a product purchase over the last six months. Why? Because the girl next door is much more relate-able than a flashy photoshopped ad or editorial – numbers don’t lie.
Mind you, there are some nonsense out there and people blogging for all sorts of wrong intentions, and ruining it for the rest of us out there, but what job doesn’t have those sour apples?
I am by no means a Fashion expert nor is that my purpose on this platform, I see myself as more of a voice and a personality than an expert. I would not be here today if it were not for those Magazines and Editors, I have the utmost respect for them. It is their very existence that I aspire and get inspired from. So lets give credit where credit is due.
Hopefully we can find the median sooner than later, meet me at the corner of “open-minded” and “sincerity” — when will the traditionalists stop with their snarky nostalgic idleness and when will the Gen-Y stop feeling this sense of entitlement — I think once both parties overcome these hurdles we can find the right balance.