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Fashion Blogging

Tied with the coverage of celebrities is the coverage of fashion on Jezebel. Its manifesto declared Jezebel as an alternate to the fashion-heavy women’s magazine industry set Jezebel up to be a critique of fashion. However, looking at the fashion tag shows that this has mostly devolved to reviews: the fashion industry,  celebrity fashion  and products by Jezebel writers.

Fashion blogging has become a major factor in the industry. While at first, fashion was resistant to embrace social media, companies themselves are now  using it in addition to acknowledging the influence of independent fashion bloggers.( Amed 2011) An article for Women’s Wear Daily‘s website explains that there are  two million fashion and shopping focused blogs, many with linked to similar products available for purchase embedded in their site (Cochoran 2006).  The influence of digital fashion critiques is forcing fashion institutions to change, and involve a more democratic process of inclusion (Cochocran 2006). While fashion was once a “dictatorship” the growth of the fashion blog, and its critiques of the fashion world have forced a type of transparency on the industry, forcing them to involve regular citizens in their decision (Cochoran 2006). Industry giant/PR Rep Kelly Cutrone commented to the New York Times that  “Do I think, as a publicist, that I now have to have my eye on some kid who’s writing a blog in Oklahoma as much as I do on an editor from Vogue? Absolutely. Because once they write something on the Internet, it’s never coming down. And it’s the first thing a designer is going to see. (Wilson 2009)

This change is infiltrating long-standing bastions of the fashion industry.  Wilson’s 2009 New York Times article about the changes in the industry noted that “Jezebel.com (a saucy blog that includes coverage of fashion) shot ahead of Style.com (the Condé Nast fashion site) for the first time this fall with more than a half-million visitors” (Wilson 2009).The attention given to a wider variety of designers, such as the detailing in Jezebel’s “Rag Trade.”

Similar to “Dirt Bag,” but focused on the fashion industry, “Rag Trade” reflects both caused the increased humanization and celebrity of industry giants, and increased the name and coverage of smaller scale designers. These changes, wrought by Jezebel and other online fashion blogs have caused a more macro examination and restructuring of the industry. A recent story on Jezebel discussed changes in America’s Next Top Model, a show that has long been merging the world of fashion with the American people.  (Stewart 2012) Tyra Banks, show star/producer has fired long standing judges and creative director, to take the show in a more digital/ online directions. (Stewart 2012) She is currently courting BryanBoy, one of the most popular fashion bloggers to become a part of the show. (Stewart 2012) Bryanboy is so influential that in 2008, Marc Jacobs named a purse in his collection after the blogger. (Wilson 2009)

In “Rag Trade” Jezebel also covers the gossip of the industry, mentioning not just the design changes but inner lives of the designers. Social media has become a major player in perpetuating rumors about the fashion industry. (Amed 2011)This reflects the trends of celebrity gossip, but extended to the names of the fashion industry. What is interesting to note about this section is that it differs from the others in that it assumes baseline knowledge of the players in the fashion industry, and does not just draw upon popular culture, like “Dirt Bag.”

Another element that reflects celebrity trends is Jezebel’s coverage of celebrity fashion at red carpet events in a feature called “Good/Bad/Ugly.” In this feature, pictures of celebrity outfits at red carpet events are shown, with commentary. This dissection of celebrity fashion is a part of the fashion blogging trend, which magazines have had difficulty adjusting to. (Wilson 2009) The analysis of celebrity fashion can have multiple functions. In Feasy’s study of heat readers (talked about more in this post) the women described why they enjoyed the fashion section of the magazine.( Feasy 2009: 693-696)  For some, they liked both the inspiration of the style, but also the confidence it gave them to try off new styles after feeling validated by seeing a certain look on a celebrity. (Feasy 2009: 694) Most magazines have launched digital components, which readers enjoy due to their interactive and search features, which allow them to tailor the content the consume. (Inghanm and Weadon 2008: 218These online pieces are able to be more in depth then the virtual pieces.  (Ingham and Weadon 2008:217)

The fashion industry is being changed by social media, but is still managing to maintain its gendered identity. Fashion blogs merge the celebrity, gossip and fashion elements, whether fashion is the main focus or one element of a larger site.

Sources

Ahmed, Irman. “Fashion 2.0 | Fashion PR in the Digital Age | BoF – The Business of Fashion.” Fashion 2.0. Business of Fashion, 5 Apr. 2011. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. <http://www.businessoffashion.com/2011/04/fashion-2-0-fashion-pr-in-the-digital-age.html&gt;.

Corcoran, Cate T. “The Blogs That Took Over the Tents.” WWD. Women’s Wear Daily, 6 Feb. 2006. Web. 21 Apr. 2012. <http://www.wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-features/the-blogs-that-took-over-the-tents-547153?full=true&gt;.

Feasy, Lauren. “Reading heat: The Meanings and Pleasures of Star Fashions and Celebrity Gossip.” Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies 22 5 (2010): 687-699

Ingham, Deena, and Alexis Weedon. “Time Well Spent: The Magazine Publishing Industry’s Online Niche.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 14 2 (2008): 205-20. Print.

Stewart, Dodai. “Tyra the Tyrant Has Fired Mr. Jay, Miss J and Nigel Barker from ANTM.” Jezebel. Jezebel, 20 Apr. 2012. Web. 21 Apr. 2012. <http://jezebel.com/5903702/tyra-the-tyrant-has-fired-mr-jay-miss-j-and-nigel-barker-from-antm?tag=america.s-next-top-model&gt;.

Wilson, Eric. “Bloggers Crash Fashion’s Front Row.” The New York Times 27 Dec. 2009, New York ed., Style sec.: ST1. Print.

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OMG!!!! DID YOU HEAR ABOUT LINDSAY/BRITNEY/MILEY/ANGELINA?

Popular wisdom and Yahoo Ask! User theone78 maintain that gossip is inherent to women, something inherent.  Curious user honeybee posted on Yahoo’s general forum for knowledge asking “ Why do women love to talk & gossip? I’m one of them so no judging here.”   The answer she received from theone78, whose self-stated source is an “Associate Degree—In Social Behavior Science” was not an unheard of.

“ It’s the way you girls are made…more social and emotional!! …. It has more to do with out genetic structure/makeup of survival. Gossiping however is not being to control your tongue which BTW takes discipline.” (theone78) This prominent perception (whether or not the somewhat dubious science checks out) has lead for the industry of celebrity gossip to become immensely popular.

Gossip has been a widely researched subject, and “ the sheer bulk of five centuries commentary on gossip suggests a phenomenon worth taking seriously (Spacks 1985: 26) Most of this discussion of gossip has been decidedly negative, with potentially positive elements being acknowledged rarely.  (Spacks 1985: 26)  There are ethical questions inherent in gossip relating to its position on the “borderline” between public and private (Spacks 1985: 262; Podneicks 2008: 56). It is clear that sites like Jezebel push this line, forcing private information of celebrities and even self selecting contributors into a more public forum.  Like the snarky attitude of Jezebel, gossip draws heavily upon humor. (Podniecks 2008:57)  Gossiping is a performance, meant to create a reaction, whether of amusement or disgust, from the audience.  (Podneicks 2008: 57). When it is “framed by humor gossip ‘rises above its pettiness and viciousness’ and is redemptive” (Podneicks 2008: 57).

While gossip was in previous era was limited to the exchange of information about personal acquaintances, celebrity gossip has supplanted that. (Feasy 2008:693)  This is a relatively new phenomenon, and has been shaped by and defined a new definition of celebrity.  From Louella Parsons, the first gossip columnist to todays gossip blogs, the discipline has changed (Fairclough 2008) The growth of celebrity has given a consequence free way to share information about others, a process which gains the sharer social capital (Feasy 2008: 690). Since it does not involve personal acquaintances, gossip is not as problematic (Feasy 2008: 690). Initially, the idea of nationally knows stars came to fruition with the era of the powerful movie studios (Fairclough 2008). Monolithic, the studios were able to control the images of stars with a heavy hand (Fairclough 2008).  However, the invention of the zoom lens changed that (Fairclough 2008). Salacious pictures of Elizabeth Taylor’s extramarital affair caught from a distance breeched a new form of celebrity information(Podnieks 2009: 56). Now, any aspect of a celebrity’s life, especially their faults and private shames, were fair game (Podnieks 2009: 56). Having a taste of something more,  people were not longer satiated by the static stupid images (Podniek 2009: 56).

Feasy’s 2008 study group of readers of heat, a British gossip magazine, revealed that the consumption of celebrity gossip is not the sole voyeurism traditionally associated with it. In fact, women like to read the information for the main purpose of sharing it with others (Feasy 2008: 693). Knowing this information gives people a desirable expertise.   It allows them to share it with others to create a sense of community. There is also a desirability to be the first to obtain this information, expressed by Feasy’s study participants (Feasy 2008:691). While this is not reflected on Jezebel itself, this desire for primacy is the meaning of Gawker.com’s tagline “Tomorrows News. Today.”  There is a certain appeal to be the first of a social group to know something, to even, as Gawker suggests, be a whole day ahead.

Additionally, the presentation of celebrity flaws and personal news creates what  Feasy identifies as a double edged sword (Feasy 2008: 696) Women  feel validated for the own imperfections, comforted by the normalcy of celebrities. (Feasy 2008: 695) However, women also feel a sense of guilt for intruding and pointing out people’s weaker moments, even if they are in the public eye (Feasy 2008:696)  The popularity and social benefits of celebrity gossip have embedded it in popular culture. With the digital age, celebrity blogging has grown.  Check out the next post for more on that!

Sources:

Fairclough, Kirsty. “Fame is a Losing Game: Celebrity Gossip Blogging. Bitch Culture, and Post Feminism.” Genders. 48 (2008) Web. 18 April 2012. <http://www.genders.org/g48/g48_fairclough.html>

Feasy, Rebecca. “Reading heat: The Meanings and Pleasures of Star Fashions and Celebrity Gossip.” Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies 22 5 (2010): 687-699

Honeybee, and Theone78. “Why Do Women Love to Talk & Gossip?” Yahoo! Ask. Yahoo!, 28 Apr. 2011. Web. 17 Apr. 2012. <http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110428163842AA9TcJ0>.

Podnieks, Elizabeth. “Celebrity Bio Blogs: Hagiography, Pathography and Perez Hilton.” a/b: Auto/Biography Studies 24 1 (2009): 53-73.

Spacks, Patrica. Gossip. New York: Knopf, 1985. Print