Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will be familiar with super blogger-cum-fashion editor Susie Lau of StyleBubble. She’s the ultimate defendant of the blogging community, a contributing writer for Business of Fashion and Dazed Digital, a fashion icon and a woman with intelligence, integrity and poise. Her unique voice is known and respected in both the journalism and blogging communities; this makes her something of a rarity.
I heard that she would be in conversation with Zhang Tseng, editor of Dazed Digital, to discuss the ever-changing face of fashion. An opportunity too good to miss, I tuxed-up and headed over to McQ on Dover Street to hear what she had to say.
Lau’s view of a truly global fashion industry means that, at least for her, the ‘big four’ (Paris, London, Milan and New York) are less relevant now. With an ever-increasing calendar of localised fashion weeks, the industry is becoming more and more fragmented. Kiev, Lagos, Shanghai: all are hosting exciting, fashion-forward runway shows – and fine, it’s not New York, but there’s promising talent being showcased at these condensed three-day fashion affairs.
It’s also worth noting that the runway is no longer the sole dictator of trends. More than ever it’s the bloggers, instagrammers and Google translated fashion magazines influencing the consumer. Even the most remote style blogger can have a global impact on trends. That is the world-shrinking power of the internet.
Take the Bleach London girls, the duo who specialise in dying hair in various shades of My Little Pony. Today, it’s catalysed a global hair colour trend. With their DIY dye packs, the once-Dalston based salon is now an international brand. That’s what a good social media presence can do for you.
Both Lau and Tseng described fashion blogging as having initially been something of a ‘cottage industry’; that is to say, a small, internally operated clique that began in bedrooms worldwide. Lau spoke about the supportive nature of fashion blogging in those early days (she began Style Bubble in March 2006), with regularly exchanged messages between the early players. It was, she said, “a way of showing fashion in a way that it hadn’t been seen before”.
Lau took great pains to differentiate between fashion blogging and personal style blogging – blogs solely dedicated to #OOTD and #fromwhereIstand posts. Of course personal style blogger aren’t journalists – and, to their credit, they usually don’t try to be – they offer a whole new form of communication, and one agents and brands are keen to get in on. These are brand spokespeople.
But what of the fashion blogs with editorial – like Girl in Menswear? Are we bloggers also journalists? No, not really. As Lau discussed, these types of blogs offer a new form of communication, which exists strictly online.
Susie Bubble represents something very unusual in the fashion world. Her blogging came first, her brief stint at Dazed Digital as editor followed, but ultimately she returned to blogging full-time. Lau proves that blogging can be a valid profession in itself. I guarantee there are bloggers on higher salaries than many fashion journos.
So what now? Who are the real influencers? For the time being it’s an intoxicating mix of bloggers and ‘the big four’…but perhaps change is imminent, with Lau leading the way.