When Vogue.com US editors criticised fashion bloggers and their legitimacy at Milan Fashion Week, I read the article with amusement all the while thinking: some valid points, but still, a little hypocritical.
If you weren't aware of the online commotion, here's what the editors said (published on Vogue.com):
"Looking for style among a bought-and-paid-for (“blogged out?”) front row is 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." - Alessandra Codinha, Vogue.com Fashion News Editor
"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." - Sally Singer, Vogue Creative Digital Director
These editors accept advertising dollars, curate a magazine by featuring brands and designers who have paid to be featured in its pages (online or print), use their clout to borrow expensive designer clothes for style shoots (usually from advertising partners) and then try to shame bloggers for "paid appearances and borrowed outfits looks" - no wonder the fashion blogging community was reeling and hit back on social media.
Susie Bubble founder of popular fashion blog Stylebubble.co.uk who currently has 327,000 Instagram followers tweeted this in response to Vogue:
Now it is at this point that I should reveal that back in 2014, I myself wrote some unflattering comments about 'typical' fashion bloggers in a post titled The Rise of Ethical Fashion Bloggers. Here's a snippet of my piece:
The sweeping generalisation of fashion bloggers is that they are attention seekers that don't do any real work, slotting in to the same unfortunate category as socialites like Paris Hilton - not that some bloggers care.
I still stand by what I wrote in the post back in 2014, but I emphasise that my comments are aimed at bloggers who bring the industry into disrepute by lying, conniving, copying, stealing (images and copy without attribution) and basically behaving like self-important attention-whoring brats.
My disdain for these kind of bloggers aside, I don't want to write off the entire fashion blogger community of which I am a part. The broader fashion community plays a crucial role in advancing the ethical and eco fashion movements.
On a mission to promote sustainable fashion concepts to the far corners of the world wide wide, I decided to call on some fashion blogger gal pals to chat fashion, the Rana Plaza tragedy and get their views on how ethical and sustainable fashion could start to engage the wider fashion public.
Here's what four fashion influencers had to say...
Kristina Petrick, travel lifestyle & fashion blogger of Day in My Dreams and Creative Director of a women's footwear brand.
Main considerations when going shopping... I always consider quality, style and functionality. One without the other will result in a regrettable purchase. And a purchase with all three is always worth the price.
Top three fashion brands are... AllSaints, Zara and David Lerner are my favorite fashion brands. I love them because they have a mix of updated classics and new, edgy styles at an attainable price bracket. Their brands each represent a part of my own personal fashion expression. For luxury brands, my favorites are YSL, Gucci and Prada. They're timeless but have that sort of dark mysterious vibe that makes you want to know more.
Have you ever considered shopping for sustainable or ethical fashion? Definitely. Though it's difficult to find sustainable fashion in every niche of fashion styles. I have a couple pieces from The Great Beyond, and love Grana for sustainable manufacturing of high quality silks and cashmeres.
Have you heard of the Rana Plana building collapse? I have not - press coverage is so tragically selective.
What will it take to make you consider shopping more consciously? A combination of awareness and availability. Ethical sustainable practices are just now coming to the forefront as people want to learn more about where and how their purchases were made. I think if more brands made it clear [their stance], shoppers would better understand on how to make the right choices.
What do you think eco and ethical fashion brands could do to promote this cause better? I think there is a big market for people that aren't necessarily shopping for eco-friendly first - but if the brand is something consumers would be interested in - it's a great selling point. Eco friendly and sustainable fashion brands often only promote that one aspect of their fashion (people searching exclusively for eco-friendly wear). It would be great to broaden the consumer market by marketing to those who like the style of the brand, then remind them the importance of sustainability. It's a great way to expand the market and grow awareness of the effects of unethical manufacturing through fashion first, growing the population that is conscious of their purchases.
Do you follow any ethical fashion bloggers? I'm not completely sure to be honest. I have many friends in the blogosphere. However, it's not usually at the forefront of what they're trying to portray. Most fashion bloggers are fashion-first - then drop in their supporting initiatives as they're able. I don't think I've yet connected with any bloggers who's main theme is 100% ethical fashion. But I'm sure they're out there! So here's to growing that circle.
Suzanne Dang, mental health & fashion blogger at suzannedang.com.
Main considerations when going shopping... would be design. I always look for staple pieces, and no matter what the price is (and it's within my means) I would buy it if I love it and know that I can style it and wear it for as long as possible.
Top three fashion brands are... Cue, Cue, Cue! I love Cue not only for its trendy designs and stylishness, but it's all ethical and fair trade, as far as I know. I also love all the brands from The Fashion Advocate.
Have you ever considered shopping for sustainable or ethical fashion? Yes always! I used to be a vegan (for not long though, just 6 months) and loved reading up on the different purpose and philosophy of fashion brands. I love shopping at Cue as it is ethical, and [garments] have high good quality to the material as well.
Have you heard of the Rana Plana building collapse? Yes I have heard about this, and it definitely stirred a fashion positive movement. I heard about it, and I thought how I could help in small ways.
What will it take to make you consider shopping more consciously? By just being mindful, changing my thoughts and patterns, and to not be swayed by just 'how pretty [the piece of clothing] looks' but thinking consciously about the after-effects on the environment and the people that help make the clothing.
What do you think eco and ethical fashion brands could do to promote the cause better? Make noise! Make as much noise as possible! Collaborate with ethical bloggers only (I wouldn't say I'm entirely one but I do try).
Do you follow any ethical fashion bloggers? I follow Ekoluv by Emily Kate Symes. Not only a friend of mine, but a very lovely person.
Barbara McKellar, lifestyle and fashion blogger at barbara-george.com.au, wife and mother to Ruby.
Main considerations when going shopping... I like to keep my wardrobe workable therefore my main considerations when shopping are to update staple pieces that can no longer be worn anymore or if I need to add a few pieces to accommodate a seasonal change. I am influenced by trends to a degree, but I wouldn’t say it dictates my style.
Top three fashion brands are... such a hard question! I would have to say Sass & Bide will always be one of my favourite brands as they always have a piece that speaks to me. Decjuba is a new favourite brand; I love that their clothes are so wearable. Aje due to the sparkle factor.
Have you ever considered shopping for sustainable or ethical fashion? Yes, but not intentionally. The purchase was a maternity dress from Bamboo Body and I made the choice because the fabric felt so soft and it was such a comfortable piece.
Have you heard of the Rana Plana building collapse? Not until I googled it just now. How disgusting. This would certainly make me re-think my purchases or at least investigate the origin of the clothes I like to buy.
What will it take to make you consider shopping more consciously? I think it is a matter of sharing more information about what it means to be more mindful and making consumers aware of why they should consider shopping sustainably/ethically.
What do you think eco and ethical fashion brands could do to promote this cause better? Maybe some subtle marketing strategies that get consumers thinking more about their choices when it comes to making a fashion purchase. Also, giving them the opportunity to purchase. I wouldn't know where to start if I wanted to make an 'eco fashion' purchase.
Do you follow any ethical fashion bloggers? I follow Bamboo Body due to that purchase I made from them that I love.
Aicha Robertson, fashion blogger at The Fashion Heist, co-founder of The Great Beyond and fashion stylist assistant.
Main considerations when going shopping... Is it vegan, where it's made and do I need it?! Living in the world of fast fashion it's so easy to jump on the trend band wagon but I'm a strong believer in expressing your style not someone else's.
Top three fashion brands are... Reformation is incredible; they inspire me everyday with their sustainable ethos. The Great Beyond because it is my fashion baby. I love discovering new ways to learn about eco fashion to better and further contribute to sustainable fashion practices. ASOS because they have a huge range of accessible vegan shoes for people with size 11 feet like myself!
Have you ever considered shopping for sustainable or ethical fashion? Yes I do - all the time. I'm in the process of turning my blog full on vegan and becoming more focused on sustainable and ethical fashion. There is so many amazing brands like Veronica Maine, CUE, Alpha 60 and Manning Cartell who are ethical and made in Australia. I would love to bring them more in the forefront with my blog - for example when working with clients such as Westfield - my selections are always vegan and as ethical as it can be. I'm currently working on a new Westfield collaboration and I can't wait to show some of these incredible brands.
Have you heard of the Rana Plana building collapse? Yes I did that was in 2013? I was modelling for Undress Runways (Australia's largest sustainable runway) during this time and it made me think more critically of my fashion choices. But I have always had a concern for how things are produced and how they affect the environment and your health. Since then, I have moved away from the outfit-a-day blogger format - my posts are more editorial approach. I don't believe in excess in fashion but quality pieces. I've turned away a lot of opportunities to support the vegan and sustainable movement - as they go hand in hand.
What do you think eco and ethical fashion brands could do to promote the cause better? This is quite an interesting topic and glad you asked. Speaking to few of my friends who work with some Aussie labels, they choose sometimes not to promote 'ethical' too much even though they are accredited and made in Australia. They are scared of the issues that can arise. For example, Gorman and Reformation have both been vilified in the media for showcasing how their clothes are made - which is ridiculous if you ask me when they do the right thing. It's this type of behaviour towards big brands who try do what's right and then met with a slap in the face that scares off others from promoting the ethical and sustainable aspect.
So you can understand how some business just want to do fashion and do the right thing also with out waving a flag about it. But on the other hand as the movement towards sustainability, veganism and ethical manufacturing grows I believe more of them will push forward what they have been doing for the past decades in form of video and photographic campaigns. Times are changing and the ones trying to do right should be encouraged (and fairly critiqued) when possible.
Do you follow any ethical fashion bloggers? I follow Future King and Queen - Henrietta is so lovely! And her work is beautiful. She features fashion and sustainability lifestyle together quite harmoniously.
A huge thanks to these wonderful bloggers for taking the time to share their invaluable opinion. There were definitely some nuggets of wisdom that sustainable and ethical fashion brands can takeaway.