So what if fashion bloggers no longer get invited to New York Fashion Week come February? Bryanboy isn’t sweating under the collar of his mink coat over this news.
“I don’t feel affected by the news, not at all,” the power blogger writes Inquirer Lifestyle from the Big Apple.
Industry watchers have been hyperventilating over recent news that Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week will see fewer fashion bloggers at the Fall 2014 collections, owing to redesigned venues, and to address the complaints of designers that the shows have become, according to the Wall Street Journal report, “too cluttered with people whose connections to fashion were tenuous at best.”
This is quite a turnaround from that of several years ago when bloggers seemingly overnight took over the front row at the collections, which displaced some of fashion’s old guard as well as prominent buyers and retail executives. It was a shift that left many disgruntled.
This new development raises not a few questions: Are fashion bloggers beginning to lose their clout? Does scrapping these sometime fashion darlings from the guest list entail restoration of order in the once highly exclusive biannual event from the “zoo” that it has become?
Kibitzers are especially interested in these parts, not because you need so much of an invite to attend such events here, blogger or not, but because they’re curious about one particular blogger: Is Bryanboy quaking in his designer boots?
“Not being invited to a fashion show is the least of my worries. It’s amusing how some people care about me not being invited more than I do,” says the New York-based Filipino blogger, a frequent front-row fixture. “If anything, fashion month is a big, business expense for me—airfares, accommodation, car service, meals, long-distance calls, international roaming bills.”
Since shows these days are either streamed live or instantly Instagrammed from the front row, a fashion writer doesn’t even need to be in the shows to write a review. Case in point, veteran fashion journalist Cathy Horyn, who reviewed Hedi Slimane’s debut collection for Saint Laurent from digital images.
The New York Times critic wasn’t invited to the show, stemming from an article Horyn wrote in 2004 that she says the designer “bitterly objected to.”
“One does not have to see the actual show to see the clothes,” Bryanboy notes. “I love seeing everything up close. Brands have re-sees and press days. Also, the designers I have close relationships with invite me to have a preview of the looks they are creating just days before they show. There’s something magical about touching and feeling the fabrics they use—and one could not do that while sitting on the front row.”
He has scaled down the number of shows he attends in recent seasons, which at one point were eight runway shows a day from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., on top of events and other appointments.
“For the past two years, I’ve limited myself going to designer shows I have a clear connection with—designer friends, brands I work with, advertisers, major designers, upcoming ‘hyped’ young talent, brands that my readers might like. It’s very transparent and evident on my work online,” adds the blogger whose real name is Bryan Grey Yambao.
Incidentally, Bryanboy is represented by IMG Models, a division of IMG Fashion, which organizes Mercedes-Benz (New York) Fashion Week. His blog is hosted by the Fairchild Fashion Media-owned Now Manifest; Fairchild is a division of Condé Nast Publications.
He clarifies that “IMG simply serves as an accreditation body for media”; it’s still the designers and fashion houses that decide who gets to go to their shows—and where they will be seated.
Clearly, this blogger may be among the very few who don’t need to worry about not getting his invite to the collections come 2014. In fact, he was among the handful invited to preview
Oscar de la Renta’s Prefall 2014 collection a few days ago.
The outspoken American designer has been scaling down the guest list to his shows, having repeatedly expressed distaste for the circus that is Fashion Week. For his Spring 2014 show in September, he invited only 350, including the Filipino blogger.
“I understand where the complaints are coming from,” Bryanboy says. “There are simply way too many people in the shows. One cannot generalize and say it’s the ‘bloggers’ who crowd the venues. Even if they cut the guest list, there will always be huge crowds of people outside the show venues—a mixture [of] onlookers, gawkers and photographers (not necessarily bloggers). Just because someone has a digital camera doesn’t mean they’re a ‘blogger.’ Many of these photographers are hired by various magazines and websites around the world to shoot for their street-style pages.”
On speculations that bloggers’ influence is on the wane, he responds rhetorically.
“How do you measure influence? If Blogger A has a million readers per month but her audience is mostly under 20, how do you compare her influence to Blogger B with half her readership, but with key tastemakers and influencers such as stylists, editors, designers reading the blog?”
He underscores bloggers’ influence in consumer spending, characterizing their role as “huge” in moving merchandise.
“Most bloggers not only work with fashion houses, they also work with retailers,” he says. “How many times have you seen an online influencer promote an item on social media, only for the said item to be sold out within days (or hours)? We live in an age where page views and sales are the key currency.”
Bryanboy is among those who have parlayed their blogging career into other paying gigs. Apart from his role on the reality TV show “America’s Next Top Model” and appearances at certain events, he’s also dabbling in accessories design.
Fashion bloggers, he points out, have a different role from traditional media.
“Most bloggers express fashion from a personal instead of an institutional or critical point of view,” he says. Therefore, to hold bloggers up to the same standards as journalists is “unfair.”
It’s a sentiment shared by another famous blogger, The Sartorialist (Scott Schuman), who Lifestyle spoke to recently in Manila.
“I look at bloggers as online content producers and independent publishers,” Bryanboy says. “It’s a different form of media where the content producer is also the stylist, the writer, the photographer and the model—all in one package. Each blogger is different and it is up to them to create their own set of standards that they abide by… I don’t do show reviews and I refuse to do reviews—that’s what the critics are for.”
He shoots back at critics who have questioned bloggers’ integrity and their overt custom of accepting gifts and other freebies, and posting such on their blogs and social-media accounts.
“Even ‘journalists’ have questionable standards,” he says. “How many journalists out there are being assigned by their editors to go on a press junket, an all-expense-paid trip by a brand, in exchange for a write-up in their publication, without disclosing [it] to their readers? How many journalists or so-called ‘fashion writers’ rehash press releases to satisfy advertisers? How many magazines prominently shoot items from their advertisers?”
On the potential demise of his front-row coverage of Fashion Week, Bryanboy says: “Attending a fashion show in person and writing about it is not the be-all or end-all when it comes to fashion coverage. Fashion coverage is not limited to show reviews. A season lasts longer than a month!”