Nearly every subculture of enthusiasts--whether they’re into crafting, obscure music or videos of cute kitties--has been thanking its lucky stars for the burgeoning popularity of blogging. The fashion community is no different. The advent of blogging has been hailed as the democratization of fashion, giving fashionist@s the opportunity to voice their opinions of the fashion industry and share their own personal style and talents. As this trend continues, popular fashion bloggers have begun to wield greater influence in the high fashion world. Since the idea is that bloggers write out the goodness of their hearts, their opinions appear authentic and trustworthy to their readers. Readers oftentimes come to identify with the bloggers they follow; so when a blogger promotes a product, his or her audience is much more receptive to it than they would be if they were viewing an advertisement.
The virtual utopian fashion democracy we hoped we were moving towards a couple years ago has, like most things of this sort, turned out to be a naïve dream. Corporations seem to have put their clawed finger on this Achilles’ heel of the blogosphere: they realize that through bloggers, they can have a farther-reaching impact on the market than they otherwise would. Because of this sort of astroturfing, certain bloggers who were once ordinary individuals are given privileges traditionally reserved for fashion royalty. For those of us who can’t hop on a plane to New York or Paris during Fashion Week to catch a glimpse of Anna Dello Russo’s outfit(s) or kick it with Kanye in the front row, being able to stay up-to-speed through our RSS feeds seems like a blessing.
While granting the masses greater access to a world that has always been seen as elitist, however, blogging is slowly being put to use to manipulate them. For instance, 13-year-old blogger Tavi of Style Rookie got a front row seat at the Dior haute couture show (in front of professional journalists, and wearing a huge pink bow over her blue hair, no less). While this is an amazing opportunity for Tavi and a testament to her success, one cannot help but wonder what the repercussions of giving bloggers such status could be. Since blogging is a relatively new phenomenon, bloggers gladly take almost any invitations or free gifts they get from more “legitimate” fashion industry insiders. This being the case, it makes them easily susceptible to being controlled by corporate sponsors. Authentic, unfettered opinions on the internet aren’t going anywhere any time soon, but fashion bloggers and readers alike should be conscious of the state of the industry; lest their wide, innocent eyes (and judgment) be obscured by an overly tinted pair of Chanel sunglasses.