Last night New York-based advertising agency Lume Creative hosted an industry only seminar on social media in fashion featuring two of the biggest names currently in the field: Scott Schuman of TheSartorialist.com and Garance Dore of GaranceDore.fr. This is the first time the two have spoken together in a public forum about their work, success, and vision.
At the intimate conference in the Tribeca Skyline Studios, Schuman and Dore held court while a live twitter feed was used to illustrate key talking points, as well as document the discussion for those not in attendance. Starting off the conversation, the pair delved into the difference between fashion blogs and “street style blogs”, citing that while a fashion blog can often be a corporate entity or be an offshoot of an existing magazine (like style.com), a street style blog is often the true artistic vision of its creator – where all the pictures, writing, and layout is done under careful curation . While the duo expounded the virtues of starting ones own blog, in a week that’s been packed with social media and fashion events they offered something invaluable – the truth. One of their most interesting points was how to keep a blog true to its “voice” and of the darker side to when a blog becomes more popular – like copyright infringement battles and the endless stream of advertising pitches and solicitations.
Buying Into A Personality
While they stated from personal experience that the key to a successful site is total creative control, they’ve also noted that there needs to be genuine communication at foot – a real connection with your audience in a voice which speaks to them. As mentioned in an earlier PSFK piece on fashion blogging- for many on the outside of the fashion world, looking at these sites is a way to peer into what would otherwise be unavailable to them, and also offers a chance for readers to join the digital party with peers who share similar tastes. According to Schuman, visitors aren’t just buying into a concept, they are also “buying into these personalities.”
The pair then cites the example of Tavi, 13 year old blogger wunderkind and current Rodarte ambassador, and how she has won over fans not through years as a trends insider- but rather as a fresh and honest voice, with bright and insightful things to say. In an age when companies are constantly trying to sell you on a dream, sometimes it’s inspiring just to hear those of an actual person- and this humanizing of the fashion world is what Schuman and Dore seemed to suggest is what the average consumer craves.
Making A Blog Profitable
Though the discussion centered on many important trends within the world of new media and fashion, one of the most interesting centered around how to make a blog profitable and how it can interact with brands for a mutually beneficial end. One of the suggestions the pair had was brand sponsorship of certain sites by companies who shared a similar aesthetic and vision. One of the key companies who seem to understand the dynamic between the advertiser and the medium is American Apparel, who even before the world of blogs had staked a permanent claim on the back covers of Vice Magazine (incidentally, one of the few media publications which is actually turning out a profit). However, this still falls under the category of carefully curated content – and the pair warns that once a site seems to show signs of becoming merely an advertising shill it quickly loses its credibility along with its audience. Another way suggested for sites to gain both brand affiliation and higher visibility is through collaborations- something Dore knows much about through her own work with The Gap.
Though Schuman and Dore had generally good things to say about most of the brands they’ve worked with, surprisingly they criticized one of the most lauded campaigns of the year. Burberry’s Art of The Trench, where viewers can upload photos of themselves sporting their favorite cover-up. Though many in both retail and fashion have seen this as a sign of things to come, Schuman brought up the interesting point that once a brand gives over part of its vision to the customer it loses a part of its control, something especially pertinent to Burberry, who has been staging a silent war for several years to reclaim it’s image from undesirable elements. Schuman also seemed to suggest that the type of “Street Photography” Burberry had hoped to capture was very different from that of The Sartorialist- whose images are all chosen for maximum impact rather than as an elaborate “shout-out” to customers.
Here To Stay
In all, the two confirmed much of what has been on the minds of many in both the media and retail world – and that’s that blogs are very much here to stay. While there is no way to turn back the clock, brands and “old media” should be embracing this new age and thinking creatively how to portray themselves to an audience that is growing more sophisticated and media savvy everyday. Just as how those who sought to explore the uncharted America were dismissed as carpetbaggers and later as entrepreneurs, pretty soon brands will no longer be able to ignore the bang at the castle door of the blogging world and will have to work together to create a more democratic future in which both the retailer and the consumer get to have their voice heard.
To read follow the conference you can check on twitter: @lumetweets or check out the Lume site .