There is a new generation of young stylish social media stars influencing fashion — and the high priestesses at Vogue are really not happy about it.
This season it would appear that pots criticising kettles is the new black, judging by the comments made by four editors on the American Vogue website.
In an online discussion reflecting on the highs and lows of Milan Fashion Week, vogue.com staff bemoaned the presence of “pathetic” and “desperate” fashion bloggers, whose own wardrobes were stealing attention from the catwalk shows. They condemned the bloggers’ tendency to wear clothes that were often provided free by fashion brands in return for exposure on blogs and Instagram feeds.
Sally Singer, vogue.com’s creative digital director, wrote: “Note to bloggers who change head-to-toe paid-to-wear outfits every hour: please stop. Find another business. You are heralding the death of style.”
Sarah Mower, vogue.com chief critic, added: “Sally, the professional blogger bit, with the added aggression of the street photographers’ swarm who attend them, is horrible but most of all pathetic for these girls, when you watch how many times the desperate troll up and down outside shows, in traffic, risking accidents even, in hopes of being snapped.”
Nicole Phelps, director of vogue.com’s runway app, agreed “about the street style mess. It’s not just sad for the women who preen for the cameras in borrowed clothes, it’s distressing, as well, to watch so many brands participate.”
According to Alessandra Codinha, vogue.com fashion news editor, “the whole practice of paid appearances and borrowed outfits” was “gross”.
She wrote: “Am I allowed to admit that I did a little fist pump when Sally broached the blogger paradox? Rather than a celebration of any actual style, it seems to be all about turning up, looking ridiculous, posing, twitching in your seat as you check your social media feeds, fleeing, changing, repeating . . . It’s all pretty embarrassing.”
She compared the search for true style in a front row full of bloggers “like going to a strip club looking for romance. Sure, it’s all kind of in the same ballpark, but it’s not even close to the real thing.”
The article has prompted a furious backlash from bloggers and their fans who sense anxiety among the old guard that they are no longer the arbiters of what’s hot and what’s not.
While some suggested that the staff get back to their “Werther’s originals, a nice blanket, a Midsomer Murders box set and stop worrying about us young ’uns”, others pointed out that it was standard to borrow clothes for magazine shoots. Some highlighted the editorial space lavished upon the big advertisers in the magazine’s glossy pages.
Shea Marie, a fashion influencer with a million followers on Instagram, said: “The only thing that is ‘pathetic’ here is this jealous catty and hypocritical article you’ve just published. You are exactly the type of people that have given the fashion world the cold, unwelcoming and ruthless reputation it has had in the past. Thankfully those times are changing . . . I would think an institution such as Vogue would respect young entrepreneurs instead of belittling them.
“It’s ironic how you make degrading comments about influencers and then put them on your international covers to boost sales.”
Chiara Ferragni, a blogger, graced the cover of Vogue Spain last year.
Brooke Roberts-Islam, a knitwear designer and fashion technology blogger who got her break after being championed by the blogger Susie Lau, said: “This just shows Vogue aren’t the gatekeepers of fashion any more. They can sense a shift, that there’s a huge amount of interest and excitement going on outside their remit, but they’re not really sure what to do about it. They don’t know how to stay relevant.”