The hot topic surrounding New York Fashion Week (other than the venue and sponsor change) is the new initiative banning bloggers from the shows. Recent years have seen an influx of blogger sensations at Lincoln Center posing outside for street style photos and posting inside for selfies before runway shows. In 2013 The Wall Street Journal reported that IMG planned to cut media guest lists by 20%, which mostly included fashion bloggers. These blogger cuts have continued since the story was published with it’s tightest and most drastic cuts happening this season as designers are preparing to show their Spring 2016 collections in a new location.
The blogger ban has been apparent since the debut of the shows during February 2014. Less traffic around the tents and tighter security inside the tents. True, Fashion Week has once again become more exclusive, consequently, the vibe inside the tents wained (depending on who you ask). One thing is for sure, bloggers brought an undeniable energy, which they carried inside the tents. But, should they be invited to the shows?
Chiara Ferragni is a global star, as popular in Europe as she is in the U.S. with 4.4 million Instagram followers.
The answer is simple. The same rules brands/publicists use when it comes to inviting press should be used when deciding to invite bloggers: it depends on their target demographic, reach and influence. When hosting a fashion show the ultimate goal is to get orders for the clothing line, which can be accomplished in two ways. The first, inviting buyers – the people that will sell the line to the consumer. This includes the larger department stores – such as Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Belk – and the smaller speciality boutiques. The second way is inviting people who will influence potential customers to buy the line. Insert traditional press – magazines, newspapers, fashion television personalities, celebrities, etc. However, in the age of social media, where anyone can be an influencer, this is the space where we now insert bloggers.
Aimee Song has 2.5 million followers and made famous primarily by her no nonsense street style.
But don’t #yaaaaasbloggers just yet. The support of bloggers attending fashion shows is a privilege that does not apply to every person in the blogger brigade. Bloggers are not one size fits all and all bloggers are not created equal when it comes to influence. There are four tiers of bloggers. The first, the novice bloggers: those who just launched their blog and have virtually no social media following. These bloggers will fall in the lower tier of influence and will most likely only be invited to watch the shows as they stream online (unless of course their cousin works at the PR firm or they are given a non transferable invitation by a guest who can’t make the show – like non-transferrable will stop these eager fashion seekers, ha!) Next up, the C-List bloggers: those with thousands of followers but they don’t post regularly or have a cult like following. These digital divas will likely not be invited to the fashion party either. A bit higher up are the B-listers: those who have a few thousand to tens of thousands of followers, post consistently, and their followers are interested and interactive, inquiring about or actually buying the items they see come through their feed. They have a greater chance of being invited to attend and cover the show. Then there are the top tier bloggers, stars of the blogger sensation – the A-Listers. These are the bloggers the newbies aspire to be. The bloggers who have tens of thousands or even millions of cult-like adoring followers who are very active in pursuing the items their esteem blogger posts. When these bloggers post an outfit to the day, or a travel destination or a food pic, everyone wants it.
A rarity in the mainstream fashion blogger world, Gabi is plus size and a women of color.
One of the OGs of fashion blogging Bryanboy has been a front row fixture and appeared as a guest on America’s Next Top Model.
Like it or not, gone are the days where major media is the only source of fashion consumption. It’s not just Condé Nast that influences the masses anymore. In some cases, bloggers have just as much, if not more, influence on consumer purchases as major magazines. Consider this: models are styled in clothes featured in magazines. But on Instagram or blogs, real people wear the clothes. Models = super human=not real. Bloggers = real people = just like me = if they can wear it I can wear it too. Consumers are inspired from the beautifully styled models in magazines just as much as the everyday beauty on Instagram who has impeccable personal style.
I’ve attended Fashion Week since 2008, right around the time most of the legendary bloggers started digital dossiers. I’ve seen tremendous success for brands who work with traditional magazines such as Elle, digital magazines such as NET-A-PORTER and bloggers such as those listed above. Each medium is worth a look when deciding which is best for brands to communicate their messages and sell their stuff.
So before you hop on the bandwagon to ban the bloggers you may want to consider the effectiveness of their influence. A smart brand knows, you don’t have to open the blogger floodgates and let any and everyone in your show, but choose those with the right influence and you can have the best of best of both worlds.