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.