The Blog Issue – Fashion Communities

Posted in Blogging, Daily Outfits, Writing.

Photobucket

Photobucket
Blouse: Zara

Trousers: Clothing at Tesco
Jacket: Republic
Brogues and ring: Primark
Necklace: Zara Taylor
Socks: Stolen from the Mr’s drawer

Today I read this post on Grit and Glamour. Then I read this on LoveBrownSugar, and finally this on Feeling Stylish. A chain of blog posts, each link expressing feelings I’ve been quashing for a while.

When I first started blogging I put all my outfits up on weardrobe. My blog wasn’t getting much traffic and my blog idol, Jessica, was involved with the site, so I posted a few outfits to try generate some interest. And no one liked them. Literally.

weardrobe works just like many other fashion communities – users are encouraged to upload photos of themselves for the scrutiny of others. So far, so blog-like. The only difference is the captive audience that comes with a ready-made fashion community – right?

Not exactly. Fashion communities including Lookbook.nu, Chictopia and Hypeed use a voting system. As you flick through thousands of immaculately dressed folk, you have the opportunity to hype, like, love (and other verbs adopted by the social web) the shots you think are best. You’re coaxed into making judgements about people based entirely on the tilt of their trilby or the stretch of their skinnies. There’s no witty post to read, no bio to scan or backstory to dig up – it’s all about the visual. And according to research and observations from the bloggers mentioned above, that visual is overwhelmingly white, slim and pretty.

For many people, fashion communities boost profiles, increase traffic and add followers. Landing the front page of Chictopia is a coop among bloggers that comes second only to… landing the front page of Lookbook. Not that this is a bad thing – if something’s working for you, driving people your way and getting your blog the recognition it deserves, it’s worth keeping it up. But what about all the bloggers these fashion communities just don’t work for?

I stopped using Chictopia after reading how they use blogger photos. Their intellectual copyright clauses, combined with the fact that I wasn’t getting any significant traffic from the site and the insecurities about weight, fashion prowess and the rest the voting system brought out, really put me off interacting with the community and others like it.

The blog posts I’ve read about this topic describe online fashion communities as an extension and representation of the industry itself – a cliquey, exclusive set filled with beautiful people in expensive clothing. I wouldn’t go as far as this – many of my favourite bloggers are huge hits on sites like Lookbook, including Lily who is as normal and Primark-obsessed as anyone.

I would, however, disagree with the description of these sites as ‘fashion communities’. The word community instills ideas of solidarity, sisterhood and collectivity, but the voting element is so juxtaposed – it forces certain members in front of others, immediately dispelling any notion of ‘togetherness’.

And suddenly, you realise the most popular member of your community, the one with the most hypes and likes and loves, is wearing a truly heinous eskimo hat over 5 inches of black roots with a fringed waistcoat and boots that look like a horse’s hooves – someone you can’t relate to or compete with – and you think nah, this really isn’t for me.

Do you use online fashion community sites? Have you gained exposure for your blog from sites like Lookbook and Chictopia? Are you battling to get yourself noticed among thousands of practically-professional shoots, or is posting to your blog more than enough, thank you very much? Have your say below or tweet me and let me know your thoughts.

41 Comments

coloursandcarousels

I totally agree! I’ve had lookbook for a while now and the only hypes I’ve had are from my lovely aunt, or friends. It’s a bit downputting, so I never have a reason to post anything on there now. I saw someone wearing the exact same outfit as one of my looks with more than a hundred times the hypes I’d got! I haven’t had a chance to promote my blog on there but I doubt it’d do much, it’s just hard to get yourself out there.
Bearing that in mind, there are benefits, it can help to inspire! And… well. That’s all I can really think of just now.

xxxx

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Victoria India

I love this post Jen! An amazing read.

I am part of Lookbook, and i don’t get much hype and i’ve had rude comments, it does give me a fair bit of traffic though. It does annoy me how all the ‘skinny models in designer gear’ get THOUSANDS of hype. I mean yeah, lovely image but like you said, what do you know about this person?

Chictopia is a lot friendly and i’ve not had any bad experiences (yet) but it doesn’t give me much traffic. But I like how it not as cliché as lookbook, but again, that could all change.

I’ve found some amazing blogs through these sites though so i’ll continue to use them.

It doesn’t give me many hang ups about my size, because personally I think a lot of these girls are too skinny and look ill. Im happy the way I am xo

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daisychain

1. I love those trousers on you Jen. Amazing.

2. This post echoes my own thoughts, pretty much. I stay away from all those sites, they do nothing for my self worth.

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Alison

Those trousers look so good on you!

Completely agree… I have never really understood why they are described as “communities”… interesting read, thanks for all the links!

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Alyse

This is a great post! I am really enjoying how you go above and beyond the regular fashion blogger to tackle these issues.

I can definitely agree with how you feel about these “communities.” When it comes down to it, it’s mostly just another clique where whoever is the skinniest and wealthiest gets the most hype/love/etc which is really just a continuation of the industry, like you said. I agree with Victoria’s comment about how “cliche” Lookbook is. With a lot of these sites, I feel like a certain type of look(s) get(s) a lot of hype. In essence, it really seems like another popularity contest. I’m not that active on any of these sites, but I do find that looking at lookbook gets tiring after awhile, especially when I realized that most of the top looks just seem like variations on one another.

To each his own, I suppose.

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Leia

No, I don’t use those sites. I tried Lookbook and Chictopia and a couple of others and I didn’t get anywhere. I didn’t think it was because I wasn’t white/skinny/pretty, but because I didn’t have ‘the style’ they were looking for. Ah well! I guess it works for certain people but for the rest of us we have the truly rewarding blogging *community* 🙂

Leia

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Claire

I agee completely. I used to use Lookbook, and still have an active profile on there, yet I don’t post anymore. I feel that I’m being judged too much on there. I prefer now to post my outfits on my blog, where there is a more appreciative audience.
The images that get all the hype on there are never of normal people, but of super skinny girls in expensive clothes with professional photographers taking their pics, so there really is no point for us lot!
Great post Jen, and gorgeous outfit as always.
Claire
x

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Louise

I really find those sites a bit elitist, I don’t know, I’m just intimidated by them – you’re right everyone who seems to do well has a certain image and it’s like if you don’t conform to that you don’t get a second glance!

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chan?

lookbook is so overwhelming there is no one to relate and not just in terms of the type clothes but age group, it doesnt float my boat personally!
i think ill stick to blogging for now
^ im still having trouble with just that ;]

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Penny Dreadful

I’ve never got involved in any of those places to be honest. It seems quite impersonal, and one of the things I love about blogging is getting to know someone’s personality and style. And to be honest, flicking through thousands of photos of unedited outfits sounds pretty dull to me – I like the backstory.

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Lil

This is a great post.
I’ve never thought that Lookbook or Chictopia were a realistic tool for a blogger like me.
I enjoy having a look every now and again but I regard the profiles the same way I would photos in magazines – completely unrelateable.
X

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Lily

its probably wrong to admit this, i dont actually really use lookbook apart from the traffic element, i will often get thousands and thousands of hits from there alone! i think it attributes to about 15% of my total traffic, with chictopia being about 8%. I like chictopia alot more than lookbook, its more real, girls of al shapes and sizes are welcome and no one is rude or clicqey.

ive been on the chictopia and lookbook front pages, and have tasted the fruits of such a honour! I dont fit the lookbook model, but i get massive hypes (most of my looks are in the top 10 most hypes as well as being THE most hyped look one week!) i do agree it has a “look” though, tall, skinny, rich, of which i am none of those. for some reason its just worked for me, i dont think it would for everyone though. not all outfits i post on my blog i put on loobook, purely because i know they wont do as well, the same with chictopia though!

I would reccomend chictopia to anyone, the traffic is good, the people are nice, i know there TOS are a bit weird, but its just as bad as anything, at my uni all our work produced AT the university is legally their property, its messed up!

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E is for Eleanor

Totally agree with you on this one Jen, I tried them and failed, I just don’t get it really?! You bring up great points about who the most successful users are too!

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Little Scribbler

I enjoy flicking through those sites from time to time but I wouldn’t dream of putting myself up there! Here, I can be about look and words and that suits me far better!

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Harriet

I started using Lookbook and quickly found out it really wasnt for me. To begin with it was just a case of ‘everyone else is on it’ and ‘maybe it’ll get me more traffic’ but honestly? I’m just not ‘hype’ material!

In a slight defence (although not really!) though I prefer to look through the ‘whats new’ section on lookbook as you can find more interesting non-stereotype-fitting people that way. I discovered one of my fave bloggers Amy from Vintage Reflection by doing this. The most hyped lists are nice enough to look at sometimes, but to be honest I think half of them must just spend their whole life styling photos for lookbook – and it tends to get a bit boring…

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WeShop

I joined one – Chictopia I think – to see what it was all about, but it wasn’t for me. Frankly, I’m too old for all that and also I barely have the time to read all the blogs I love let alone participate in something like that. xx

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Sherin

I started using lookbook and chictopia when I first started blogging. I actually found them unnecessary communities, and used them only a handful of times.
I don’t really think it helps with traffic to sites, unless you’re really well known.

I actually agree with Harriet. The most hyped ones do look like they spend a lot of time styling shots.

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Lauren

To go against the grain, I *love* Lookbook and Chictopia..but I don’t take part (I think I might have made an account?). I just don’t have the time, but I do love looking through the outfits because I simply see it as an art – what people throw together – and some outfits are really well thought out and look amazing. I don’t scrutinise or judge anyone (on or offline), but I suppose that’s why I don’t post on there myself because I don’t want loads of fauxshionista’s I don’t and never will know judging me specifically on my looks and/or taste in clothes alone. People must be as shallow as a puddle if they judge someone on clothes/looks without getting to know them, and a lot of people are like that which is a huge shame.

Ramble ramble ramble.

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Kb

I am a member of Lookbook and Chictopia but rarely post, due to my the insecurity of my photo taking. It seems that the most popular looks are in breathtaking settings, perfectly lit and posed and I really can’t compete. I prefer the voice that having a blog gives me and that I can’t really be compared to anyone else on it. I’ve dabbled slightly more in Chictopia and prefer it somewhat, but I’m not sure if people are rating my photos just to get me to rate theirs.

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LilyLipstick

Love the trousers!
I’m not a huge fan of the Lookbook/Chictopia sites…I’ve only quickly browsed both of them but they do seem very stick-thin-model focused and I think the nicest part of blogging is getting an insight into the person and their thoughts rather than just pictures of what they’re wearing. x

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Samantha

Totally agree. I’m not sure I’d ever post on lookbook etc. I blog for myself, not so that hundreds of people will find my blog and read what I’ve written about 🙂

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Alex

I’ve never visited either of them. From what you’ve said, it doesn’t sound like I’m missing out. I like the reality and personality that you get from blogs – I don’t read them just to see pretty pictures of expensive outfits so websites that show nothing but that sort of content don’t interest me.

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Lucy

Thank you for an very informative read there. I’m extremely new to blogging outfits and I only do so on my blog – I’m not on any of the other sites. To be honest, after reading yours and the linked posts I think I shall steer well clear. I just do this for myself and for fun, and I certainly don’t want to be part of some kind of elitist “community”. It really doesn’t sound like my kind of thing. The blogs I like looking at and reading are the ones belonging to real people who wear the kind of clothes I like and write interesting things, which is what I want my own blog to grow into eventually. Think I’m best off sticking with that!

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Joanna.

I agree with you – to an extent. If you think about it, when you put on some clothes and walk down the high street you can see what people are thinking about/judging you as you walk past them. I recently went to a country park in THE most unsuitable attire and literally got shunned. Though no one came up to me and said anything, almost every person we passed stared at my footwear and their faces were pretty readable. I also wore a kind of vintage-y outfit into town and a group of chavs stared at me passing in silence. On the other hand though, I’ve been into Boots with a massive statement necklace on and received several compliments. You don’t need to go online to get/not get liked or hyped, just walk out your front door.

If you want to get judged online too then get involved, if not, it’s your choice. If you don’t like not receiving any hypes or whatever then don’t go on the sites. It’s not a matter of elitism or fashion ‘community’ (whether there is such a thing on these sites or not), it’s human nature.

x

PS, I adore your outfit. I was going to get those trousers, but I looked like something out of Willy Wonka 🙂

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Alice

I’ve never used either of the sites mentioned; I’ve heard a few snippets about them and stayed clear to be honest.
They might work for some people, but I think its very popularity based, which is a bit of a dull factor x

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Vintage Vixen

Hi Jen! I’ve never visited them either, they sound awfully self-important and cliquey for my liking. The appeal of blogging is getting to know the person behind the outfit, where it came from and such like. If I just wanted to look at anonymous women wearing outfits I’d sit in the city centre and people watch.
Love the pussybow blouse and the shape of the trews on you. xxx
PS Thanks for the lovely comment you left yesterday, it means a lot. x

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daisymay aka Chantele

I really agree with you and have read the posts you mentioned too. I joined Weardrobe and chictopia after blogging about 6 months. I dropped off Weardrobe pretty fast but kept up up Chictopia just hoping I would be able to get traffic from it. But as you said I get very few ‘Likes’ my wedding dress generated a lot of interest so thought that my posts after would start to get noticed but still no luck!! It is quite infuriating that it is often the same 15 or so bloggers that you see on the front page all the time in not entirely inspiring outfits or even interesting photos. Actually I find interesting photos are less likely to make the front page or their hit lists on FB, as they go for simple shots just standing in front of white wall or random stuff in a bedroom. Feel like this may be bubbling a rant inside me so I shall stop now!

Daisy Dayz Home
Cross-Jones-Photography Home

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Mat

stick to what you know jen, really interesting points raised. i have never really thought about them like this but i tend to agree. i did used to use LB but soon lost interest, it’s just too vast and people hype the “hyped” and can then make you feel not so great about your post.

you seem to be doing well on your own with these so called communities so keep it up!

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Vicki

great post jen, i dabbled with Chictopia and Lookbook and havent really found alot of drive in traffic from either.. chictopia i found ‘friendlier’..but its just another thing that you need to leave comments on, and I dont have enough time to reply to comments on my blog never mind on these sites as well.. so to me it became added stress. Lookbook well thats a whole other kettle of fish.. from what ive seen you only get liked on it if you wear skimpy ridiculous out there outfits and pout your lips and pose like your on the cover of nylon.. thats not me.. and me wasnt liked on Lookbook, which knocked my confidence.. so i agree totally with everything you said my dear to me they are not a community..x

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Future Lint

I tried Chictopia and weardrobe for a while and I found everyone on weardrobe to be nice (you can like a look or comment, but there is no negativity button) unlike chictopia where I found people to be rude/mean… I haven’t updated Chictopia in a year and weardrobe in like 6 months… I do like Wardrobe Remix on Flickr though!

I prefer blogs, I like to see who the person is and where they live and what they do and what they have to say, not just look at one outfit!

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Helen

One of the reasons I first got into blogging was because of wardrobe_remix on flickr. There really was a sense of community there and so many eclectic styles. None of these shallow communities could compare to that. To be honest I feel too intimated to even join them.

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shealennon

I really enjoyed reading your perspective on these sites. It certainly made me think about them in a new way. I joined Chictopia and Weardrobe when I first started blogging because so many of the bloggers I liked were members. It was one more way to discover new blogs. I posted to “introduce myself” to the blog world, but it never really gave me much traffic.

I never really participated much in the voting aspect–I mostly just like looking at all the outfits! But I can see how voting/hyping/etc. can have a negative effect. I still have accounts with both sites, but I rarely update them because I simply don’t have the time. The time I do have I spend blogging or reading other blogs which is way more fulfilling anyway!

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fizzleout

Ah I was just half way though a massive comment when my computer crashed 🙁

Basically I wanted to say, I think this is an excellent post and I have to agree, I have been on chictopia a while and I feel like people only comment so that they can get extra ‘reward points’ or whatever. Until it was raised by ‘Grit and Glamour’, I had no idea about the image ownership thing, but will definitely not be uploading anything to them again.

I personally have not seen any traffic from this site even though I have had plenty of comments/friends etc, it just seems like a popularity contest to me.

Thanks for continuing the discussion about these sites, I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way!

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arash

I read those articles a while back and I’ve just come back onto your blog now to post this comment.

When I saw those articles I was considering signing up for lookbook.nu as a way to try and get traffic to my own blog. After careful consideration I decided against signing. For starts I’m a guy, all be it skinny and white so I stand a fair chance on there but I always felt the most popular pictures were the ones that were the most styled or the best quality.

So it actually takes the fun out of it, it should be about real people taking pictures in average situations from crappy cameras.

Not something that is all premeditated styled and shot with expensive DSLRs.

As far as community goes I never really considered those sorts of sites communities for that I’d turn to independent fashion bloggers network.

http://www.arashmazinani.com

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