In a recent refinery29 article, the author tackles the subject of how internet visibility can actually drive demand for a new product. The item in question? The Moschino block letter buckle, which has appeared everywhere from a candidly snapped party goer on The Cobrasnake to style diaries Fashion Toast and BleachBlack. While actual fiscal proof of the items’ popularity isn’t available, its ubiquity on some of the highest viewed style blogs on the web will surely act as better advertisements to a younger and chic-centric audience than a traditional billboard in Times Square or full page add in Vogue. Having your product come up on a blog such as BleachBlack, which is well respected in the fashion community enough for them to launch their own nailpolish line, is more invaluable to reaching young, hip “tastemakers” than almost any other type of social media- including a strong presence on social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. Just like how seeing pictures of a great party makes you wish you’d been there- having a product innocuously sold through blogs about people having a good time and doing what they love will always resonate stronger than a carefully curated image designed just to sell.
It’s part of this reason that fashion bloggers have begun to take the reigns from traditional media in the fashion industry. While to those inside the new media zeitgeist this is old news, many inside both the retail and advertising world have been scrabbling to capitalize on internet fame. One company who is hoping to reap the benefits of blogger style cred is Urban Outfitters, who recently launched a collaboration with fashion phenom Sea of Shoes. While some of the styles are hit or miss, the collaboration has brought extra attention to this particular blog while establishing Urban Outfitters as having their finger on the pulse.
However, while many traditional companies are trying to lure blog aficionados into their stores, many sites have taken it upon themselves to provide fans with the goods. Mens fashion blog A Continuous Lean recently launched an online shop featuring products by brands such as Field Notes and Steven Alan- which keep with their manly yet well-groomed and organized aesthetic. While it certainly would be easier to buy these products from their original company sites, at The Continuous Lean Shop readers are able to view a full collection of curated goods tailored to all their lifestyle needs- from hiking, to the office, to relaxing in their apartments. However, as all fads come and go, a product is only as good as its vision. The reason people want these items is because of what they represent- a subset of people who share their creative ideas and passions, an idea which is expressed on their favorite blog or site. So, in the debate this leaves us with the question – can a large company ever really buy internet credibility? Just like with “street” and “urban” identity debates of the last few decades, will we soon be asking “who is more in touch with their internet roots?” “whose social network is more genuine?” or even the elephant in the room..whose readers are real people versus those paid to make a site seem more authentic?
If we had the answers to these questions perhaps we’d all be able, companies included, to tap into what’s next in retail. But just as how coolhunting is an art form and not a science, it’s impossible to know just how far into bed the fashion world will get with the tech world, and how it’ll change the way we shop. But regardless, the fact remains that people will always want to buy something that makes them feel a part of the future, the party… and even a recession won’t change that.