#1777 Do fashion bloggers have integrity?

Bryan Boy and Tommy Ton sitting front row alongside top critics and Vogue editors.

Have bloggers sold out? That’s the question posed by NZ Herald contributor Cathrin Schaer in her piece The write stuff, published in today’s Viva (the Herald‘s Wednesday fashion/lifestyle pullout). “Once upon a time they were voices in the online wilderness, crying out for love from the industry they adored… My, how things have changed. During the last round of fashion shows in Europe and America, which wound up last week in Paris, elaborately clad bloggers sat in the front row alongside the industry’s most influential. Fashion bloggers are now collaborating not just with established fashion media like Vogue, Elle and assorted newspapers, but also with designer labels and fashion agencies both to create signature fashion items and to help market new products.”

The article includes quotes and insights from Kiwi designers Kate Sylvester and Karen Walker, who both appear to be pro-blogging, though Sylvester does mention that undisclosed commercial ties can be problematic; and PR agent Murray Bevan, who says that while many of his clients have experienced significant international growth as a result of their work being published on blogs, he is often disappointed by bloggers because, “They’re in it for themselves, not the industry. So they’ll never truly have integrity.”

Schaer also interviewed me for the piece:

“I used to write about sneaking into fashion shows. Now I get invited to them,” he explains. “So you can’t always be fighting the system. And some brands might see that sort of thing as disrespectful – which isn’t positive if you want to build a relationship with them. But I don’t see that as selling out, I see that as mutual respect. I started my blog as a reaction against what I could see was being published in New Zealand. It seemed to me that there was a lot of fluff and that nobody was really telling the truth. But I’ve since come to realise there is a reason for this. It’s a small place, if you go for a coffee on Ponsonby Rd you’re highly likely to see five of the people you’ve just written about – and it’s hard being Public Enemy Number One.”

Like I always say, everybody loves the truth, as long as it’s not being written about them.

Special thanks to Cathrin Schaer for including me in her piece, it’s an accurate and well-balanced look at the relationship between bloggers and the industry. For the record, I do believe that when it comes to commercial ties and freebies, honesty is the best policy: disclose, disclose, disclose.


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  1. says

    I think a lot of NEW bloggers are lacking in “integrity” because they have seen the success of the earlier blogger wave and now want to cash in on it too- whether its for “fame” or freebies and street cred. It’s not hard to pick who is a phony and who really, truly has a love and respect for the fashion industry. Those ones are usually the rare few who actually go and intern and strive to get jobs within the industry y’know?
    It’s like making a sex tape to get famous- just because it works for some people, doesn’t mean you ever, EVER want to see verne troyer nailing bitches.

  2. says

    Just starting out with my own blog, finding my own voice and having lots of fun with it. Keep reminding myself to write my truth above all else. You can really tell when people are writing for their audience….and I think there is far too much of that today. We all know whats popular, but to have a unique opinion is what separates the generic from the rest! Good article love :)

  3. R says

    ‘It seemed to me that there was a lot of fluff and that nobody was really telling the truth. But I’ve since come to realise there is a reason for this…’

    Incredible Isaac…
    Regardless, the reason that people don’t understand criticism in New Zealand isn’t just because it’s ‘small’, it’s also because ‘designers’ you’re critiquing more often than not weren’t nurtured in a critical environment (this could be read as formal education but translates just as easily to informal education) and are a product of the conditioning and feting they received from people with a similar lack of scope, usually resulting in flimsy, underdeveloped execution and slogan t shirts.
    More importantly the issue is that so few of the New Zealand fashion media have any idea about how to critically evaluate a designers work which is why you end up offending them and having to go somewhere other than Dizengoff or wherever for coffee on Saturday morning.

  4. isaaclikes says

    Here are my thoughts:

    Most of the fashion writers in New Zealand, like myself, are young, fairly inexperienced and don’t have the extensive base knowledge of, say, Tim Blanks or Suzy Menkes. That said, we do have our eyes and our words, and that can often be enough. And let’s face it – we don’t like everything we see. But judging from most of the articles/reviews, it would seem like every show/collection we see was the most marvellous, clever, sophisticated and beautiful thing we have ever seen. As far as I’m concerned, that doesn’t foster growth. But because all the reviews are so similar, the designers probably don’t care too much about what the writers have to say or take their opinions into consideration – and neither, I would assume, do the non-show going public.

    As far as your NZ designers versus international designers point, I’ve got to disagree with you. I don’t think that anybody is really ‘nurtured in a critical environment’. Nobody likes to be criticised. Some of the top designers in the world have banned some of the top critics in the world for receiving what they saw as being unfair, scathing reviews. So being precious about one’s work is not a New Zealand specific thing, it’s an everybody thing. I’m just as precious about my work as I’m sure any fashion designer is, or any architect is or any actor is.

    So I must disagree with your final point as well: most people will be offended if their work is criticised. Especially if the criticisms are correct. Thus Dizengoff may well be best avoided at all times if honesty is a writer’s MO.

  5. isaaclikes says

    I’m not talking about being scathing or nasty or vitriolic, I’m talking about constructive criticism. And I do agree with your Baudelaire quote.

    Re the NZ designers VS International designers, I assume you’re comparing local designers who have been ‘nurtured in a critical environment’ to international designers who have been?

    All I’m saying is show me one designer who likes to see their work get criticised – constructively or not, and I’ll show you 1000 who don’t.

  6. Guest says

    Are you writing honest opinions of designers work? If you don’t like it, will we be able to see that in your reviews? Or are we to assume that, along with others, your written opinion is much more forgiving as to avoid being Public Enemy Number One amongst the fashion crowd?

  7. R says

    No, I just meant that the comparison of the New Zealand fashion industry, originality and authenticity to that of international models is ridiculous but I shouldn’t to explain this to you.

    Although an irrelevant suggestion, I think your last point does bring up the fact that there is a far greater percentage of designers who would rather not have their work critiqued at all, which is really disappointing – and just benign arrogance really. How can one present a collection in the knowledge that what they have created is so profoundly original it warrants no feedback or criticism at all? Some may colloquially refer to this as ‘eccentricity’ but in the fine words of Horsley an eccentric is ‘someone to rich or too powerful to be call crazy’ and I don’t think there’s anyone in the New Zealand fashion industry who falls into that category.

    In fairness, the whole idea of criticism is reciprocal; maybe the problem is that the people who are offended in the face of criticism aren’t smart enough to validate their own work, therefore deserving everything they get.

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