Finding fashion in new media, Kieran Murphy explores the world of fashion blogs as he talks to Anne Marie Boylan of whatshewears.ie and Jo Linehan of S-Oh-S-EwThe internet has changed the way we access information in our daily lives. From watching television online, to doing a quick Wikipedia search on an essay, the web has quickly become one of the most important ways in which we devour fashion. Fashion blogs have become the new frontline of fashion in recent years and the industry has taken notice.
Possibly the most famous fashion blog is The Sartorialist (http://thesartorialist.blogspot.com) set up by Scott Schuman in 2005. Schuman pioneered fashion photography in blog form by walking around New York City and just taking pictures of people that caught his eye and posting them on his blog. This ranged from people in their dirty work clothes to Karl Lagerfeld and as a result, Schuman has gone on to work for serious fashion publications in companies like publishing powerhouse Condé Nast.
Bringing it closer to home, blogs have become more important in Ireland with the Irish Blog Awards running since 2008. Fashion award nominee, Anne Marie Boylan of whatshewears.ie, tells o-two that: “Bloggers are now included in press days and media days which is great, because I suppose the brand are realising that they have to reach out, that people are looking for the stuff online as well as in magazines.”
Boylan started whatshewears.ie at the beginning of 2009 out of frustration, because there were no prominent Irish fashion blogs apart from RTE Fashion. With a background in websites and writing online content for the Irish Times, she set up her site.
Whatshewears.ie offers readers a mix of written content and video interviews of prominent people in the fashion industry. Those who have featured include David Greene, winner of TV3’s Style Wars, and most recently, style director for Grazia magazine, Paula Reed. But does Boylan believe that fashion blogs appeal more to women than fashion magazines?
“I wouldn’t say it appeals more, I’d say it works hand in hand. There’ll always be a need for a magazine, like when you’re visiting a hospital, or [for] women who love to sit down with a magazine in a bath or wherever. I don’t think that will ever be replaced, but I think there is a need for instant gratification for fashion. Like the morning after the Oscars, you want to see the pictures of the dresses on the red carpet.”
Instant gratification has become the norm for readers, with the likes of Penneys offering copies off the catwalk within weeks. Boylan offers a degree of professionalism on whatwhewears.ie by tracking down pieces that celebrities have worn and keeping constant updates, but more importantly, she listens to what her readers want.
A unique feature of the blog is the ‘Ask the Stylist’ section, where you can e-mail in your style conundrums, such as how to wear leather trousers. Readers are also given the opportunity to discuss topics such as what Cheryl Cole wore on last week’s X Factor.
Furthermore, blogs have become so easy to set up in recent years. By signing up to sites such as WordPress, bloggers can have their own personal forum to voice their opinions within seconds. One person who did just that was Jo Linehan of Mallow, Co Cork, who set up her blog S-Oh-S-Ew (http://s-oh-s-ew.blogspot.com) a year ago. She has gone on to be shortlisted in the Next Generation of Fashion Photographers on Vogue.com.
S-Oh-S-Ew is the go-to site for Cork street style, and as Linehan tells o-two: “I love fashion and I love to watch people, so I thought it would be a really fun way to document my people-watching and you can do whatever you want with a blog. Nobody’s telling you what to write about and I just thought it would be a really fun way to create an online portfolio.”
Linehan goes on to explain how her blog would appeal to people more than fashion magazines, because it’s localised. “I’m taking pictures of people in Cork city, whereas Vogue can be very out of touch sometimes,” she argues. “The clothes that they feature are all designer and I suppose the good thing about my blog is that people can relate to it. I’m putting up stuff that I bought in Topshop at the weekend as opposed to a Chanel outfit, so in that way it’s probably more relatable to people.”
Fashion bloggers have allowed consumers to tell the fashion world what they want. Before spotting trends meant designers sending interns out into the streets and taking photos, but now fashion bloggers have taken things into their own hands and created trends and inspiration for themselves. Hollywood and Wags are no longer people’s style icons. Nowadays, they can look up to the humble college student on their way into town.