The Future of Fashion Blogging: A Forecast
While on a press trip overseas last year, I was thrust into a savvy group of other editors and bloggers, many of whom I had admired from afar for years. Excited to pick their brains IRL, I met them over elaborate four-course meals and, perhaps, a little too much wine—a combination that lent itself to honest revelation. At one event in particular, chatter swarmed around a blogger who had to pop out for a long-distance call with The New York Times, an endorsement of power if there ever was one. Another online influencer spent the night kindly explaining that she would prefer not to be called by the B-word—blogger, that is. The irony was stark: While blogging had clearly led to big things for this talented crew, some continued to brush the label off like a dirty word. The blogs, however, kept chugging—until recently, at least.
When one of the industry’s most beloved bloggers, Pernille Teisbaek, announced yesterday that she’d be shuttering her site Look de Pernille, the Who What Wear Australia editorial team lamented the news. Although she’ll continue to inspire in her new role as fashion director of The You Way, Scandinavia’s largest fashion site and the platform for her blog, it’s tough not to worry that it won’t be the same. With more on her plate, how could it not be different?
“I chose to close my blog as I wanted to challenge myself with new adventures,” Teisbaek revealed to me via email. “Sometimes it is best to stop on the top.” And there’s no denying that she is, indeed, at the top. “I’m still going to feature my daily looks, but with a slightly more descriptive text that [allows] my stylist side to be taken more seriously.”
Her announcement recalled a similar moment a few months back, when another Scandi native of the blogger elite, Elin Kling, shut down her site to conserve time and energy for other projects, like designing her minimalist essentials line, Totême. “It’s a new era with rising opportunities I want to explore in full,” she wrote at the time. For me, having followed her blog from my high school days, it was both exciting to see her grow and disappointing to lose that portal into her expertly curated world.
That blogging has changed since its humble beginnings is news to no one—think pieces on the subject abound, from my own last February to Racked’s definitive history on the subject in May and even acclaimed fashion critic Robin Givhan’s take as early as 2014. But change is less alarming than outright closure, and with two of the Internet’s crème de la crème having now bid adieu to the blogosphere, I find myself forecasting into the future.
Will we see a domino effect—the continued shuttering of our favourite sites in lieu of other pursuits? I don’t think so, but those other pursuits, it seems, are a given. As we’ve heavily documented, the side-hustle has become quite popular among bloggers, allowing them to leave a mark perhaps more tangible than online content. Whether it’s Fashion Toast’s Rumi Neely’s lingerie-inspired basics line, Are You Am I, or Chiara Ferragni’s namesake collection of cheeky shoes and accessories, these external pursuits have been met with great success—success that may pull bloggers away from their screens a little more but hasn’t done so altogether.
And why not? It comes down to personal history. Both Teisbaek and Kling were working in the fashion industry prior to starting their blogs, while Neely and Ferragni effectively launched their fashion careers through the web. That their relationships to blogging would differ is thus inevitable—for the former, it was a career booster, while for the latter, it was an outright foundation. I suspect that letting go of that entrée point is, thankfully for us fans, more of a challenge.
Of course, there are always exceptions. When asked if she’d ever considered shutting down her blog, Pandora Sykes, who was a fashion editor before its start (and still is), told me, “Mine is just as much about social commentary pieces as it is style. I write a lot more than most bloggers, so it isn’t a simple case of Oh, I will just post my outfits on Instagram instead. Though that’s not the path chosen by Kling or Teisbaek, Sykes was right to point it out. The deluge of social media platforms now on offer has allowed for the definition of blogger to expand, centered less stringently on daily blog posts. As Camille Charièrre of Camille Over the Rainbow explained it to me, “It used to be that us bloggers [would] use Instagram as a window to our online spaces. Now, it’s the other way around, with visual content having almost completely taken over via Snapchat, Instagram, and Periscope.”
But, as Sykes pointed out, it’s not that simple—blogger as an umbrella term is losing its power to a reality that’s more nuanced, one that hovers anywhere from criticism to pure curation. Charièrre herself continues to wield the power of words, posting less, she says, but with entries that are “more carefully thought out.”
Perhaps, then, what’s dirty is not blogging or bloggers themselves, but our collective abuse of the terminology. To fall back on it as we have now for so many years is becoming ineffective—you can’t throw a blanket word over a group of people so diverse as to be designing lingerie in one corner and writing feminist trend analyses in the next. So while transitions continue to take place, we’d do well to bear this in mind—blogging is not dead or dying; it’s far too complex for that. Like anything with a lot of layers, like fashion itself, it is simply undergoing metamorphosis, one that may require a different name: none at all.