, , ,

Secret Agents

When we were children it was our mothers who dictated how we dressed and when we were teenagers it was the older and cooler kids at school.  So who now that we are adults has an influence over our personal style?

Possible answers – apart from the decidedly lame ‘my boyfriend’ – include magazine editors, fashion designers and the buyers who choose what actually arrives in the shops.  However, within approximately the last 5 years, a new and highly influential character has slipped into the sartorial ring: the fashion blogger.

The modern figure of the blogger comes in a variety of guises and each lends attention to different areas of fashion.  To begin with there are those who focus on the high end designers and catwalk fashions, either established brands or new protégés.  Popular bloggers such as Bryanboy (www.bryanboy.com) and Disneyrollergirl (www.disneyrollergirl.net) tend to opt for the former, whilst Susie Lau aka Susie Bubble (www.stylebubble.typepad.net) is hugely devoted to publicising and exploring innovative new designers and collections.  Contrastingly, Bargainista Fashionista (www.bargainistafashionista.com) has –as her pseudonym suggests – founded her blog on a ‘More Dash Less Cash’ philosophy, which includes an emphasis on the unparalleled creative quality of the British high street.

Other bloggers have instead chosen to devote their time at the keyboard to the personal styles being displayed by particular individuals.  Perhaps the most well known and, let’s be subjective, phenomenal blogs to have attended to this is Scott Schuman’s www.thesartorialist.com.  Schuman posts photos with minimal commentaries of achingly well dressed people from around the globe – usually in the major cities, such as his home town of New York.  Despite the number of photos posted and the geographical spread, all of Schuman’s subjects possess the same time-suspended insouciance and appear to prove the rule that style is something you are born with, not something you buy.  As The Observer’s Alice Fisher noted ‘It is impossible to follow his work for long without finding your idea of style has subtly shifted.’

Although The Sartorialist immortalises the style of others, there are also blogs cataloguing the personal style of the author themselves.  Of those already mentioned, both Susie Bubble and Bargainista Fashionista (Susie Wong) frequently use themselves to model the clothes being discussed and their sites are accordingly shaped by their personal tastes.  Another person to follow this pattern has been Tavi Gevinson who caused excitement within the mainstream press by providing some of the most witty and imaginative writing on fashion in existence, despite beginning only 13 years old.  Now also running the online magazine http://rookiemag.com, her original blog www.thestylerookie.com contains many photos of Gevinson sporting her very own Twin Peaks meets The Virgin Suicides with added Courtney Love look.

What these disparate bloggers have in common are massive audiences and the ability the shape how many people dress.  It is now frequently remarked that the real fashion weeks happen as much off the catwalks as on, with the street style of bloggers and off-duty models now as important as that of the magazine editors and celebrity attendees of the shows.  Elle’s most recent biannual Collections magazine for S/S 2012 had a specific section of photographs of bloggers between shows, including Garance Doré, girlfriend of Schuman and herself a member of the profession.  Vogue likewise paid homage with a photo story based on an imaginary blogger hectically dressing in a hotel room in their February 2012 issue.

This recognition, along with front row status at shows has lead to designers loaning or gifting items to bloggers as a means of publicising them to a large numbers – Susie Bubble gets 30,000 hits per day.  Whilst there will only be some who can afford the true item, the potential to start a trend very much exists.  Equally, high street items mentioned by Bargainista Fashionista frequently do sell out at a rapid pace.

Given the continued rise in status of bloggers of all genres and the employment of web resources in fashion, for instance live streaming of shows, the influence of these undercover detectives of style seems unlikely to wane anytime soon.  In short – this style bubble wont go pop.