Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Inner Turmoil of Blogging: Credibility vs. Marketability

It's Fashion Week in New York. Again. And I am getting PISSED OFF. Not only does this seem to be the year for
everyone to plagiarize my work, but it also looks to be the year that blogs play right into the hands of marketers, and stay there. This is mainly happening with "independent" fashion blogs, who accept a stream of free packages from brands, and then promote the company via social media streams as a "thanks."

It is a drug to them. Once they've accepted a free pair of Nike shoes in exchange for a tweet, why not take a pair of exotic-skinned Jimmy Choos for a little blog post? And you can imagine how this snowballs until we reach the point we're at now--where most fashion blogs are simply paid mouthpieces for brands. Even though they've lost the innocence and objectivity that came before the glut of free stuff, the readers are still there; they just don't have a clue that their favorite blogger is only recommending a shampoo because he/she's getting a kickback for doing so. There are very very very few fashion blogs--ones that have been around for more than two years--that aren't exactly as I describe above. Refuse to believe me? Fine. No one discloses the swag anyways, so for readers--ignorance is bliss.

Back to how Fashion Week comes into this. If you are on the MB Fashion Week official press list as I am, then you receive all sorts of offers. Salons want to give me a makeover "to build a relationship" = you talk us up on your blog, and we'll give you hundreds of dollars worth of salon treatments. Jewelry designers offer to send me free pieces, and wannabe fashion designers try to lure me to their showrooms with the promise of free champagne and "a gift." Apparently bloggers will be the celebrity billboards of this decade.

NO THANK YOU. All this business gives me the creeps. And I am extremely fortunate to write for a fashion blog (2 years and counting) that has a contract that forbids me from accepting these offers, just in case I am ever tempted. If we receive advance copies of books to review, we review them without bias and then do a giveaway of the book for our readers. We fight the good fight to retain credibility and build authority. And it's working.

And about the bloggers that accept everything that lands on their doorstep--we get the same pitch emails you do, and when you tweet or blog about your hot new kicks or that trip you just took, or when you wear the ill-gotten goods to the same events and we see you bragging...we know that you are a sucker for it. Minus one point credibility. You are compromised. It's only too bad your readers can't see it from this angle.

Dear Suzy Menkes, please put all this into better, Brit-accented words for me...

On Fashionblogs from Mary Scherpe on Vimeo.


Kemi said...

Wow! I suspected things like this happened in the fashion blogosphere, but i had no idea that it was so rampant! It really makes me wanna take what some people say with a grain of salt..especially those that allways have *new* stuff to review.

Kemi said...

I had to comment again.. Esp after really paying attention to what "fashionistas with blogs" are blogging/tweeting about the past 24 hours. Its disgusting to read the blatent advertising..