By Stephanie Christofferson
Celebrity endorsements by fashion brands may be effective, but they are old news. Snagging a popular celebrity to act as the face of a new ad campaign is still one of the best ways to build brand image, awareness, and reputation – but there’s a new kind of celebrity in the fashion world, one that has been ensconced in a flurry of controversy for the past five years. As the Internet continues its omnipresent reach in our daily lives, blogs have transformed from public diaries for middle school girls to big money-making institutions. Bloggers themselves have become quasi-celebrities, with thousands of followers and fans. And brands have taken note of the enormous influence bloggers now have in the fashion world. One Instagram post by notorious fashion blogger BryanBoy reaches over half a million people. Since these bloggers make their names around their fashionable images, this means they are constantly endorsing brands and designers they love – either because of genuine loyalty, or business relationships. While most bloggers start as fashion-lovers sharing their passion on the Internet and slowly building followers, some have reached powerhouse status to the point where they pull in six-figure salaries, are flown out and featured at events, receive invitations to exclusive parties and coveted front-row seats at fashion shows, and are lauded with piles of free merchandise. To the chagrin of fashion journalists, bloggers now have priority spots at many events and fashion shows – simply because their audience is bigger.
So what does this blogging dominance mean for fashion journalism itself? Is it the end of an era, a time when everything is moving towards the blogosphere? A deeper analysis points to changing tides in society. Consumers enjoy authenticity; they enjoy blogs because they feel like a personal conversation, a true look into someone’s private life. These blogs are aspirational, and the bloggers fit the mold of the beautiful, charismatic “popular” kid in high school. But bloggers’ credibility lies in their perceived authenticity; sponsorships and relationships with designers may serve to discredit bloggers and turn away their audience. As bloggers become bigger and bigger, can they maintain their place in the fashion hierarchy, or will this be just one in a series of trends that sweep the fashion world?