For the past 10 seasons, Tumblr has sent a group of bloggers — all handpicked by the company's fashion evangelist (real title), Valentine Uhovski — to cover New York Fashion Week, providing them with shared work space and access to major shows. To celebrate the anniversary, the personal blogging platform is doing a few new things.
First, Tumblr is erecting a pop-up shop at 339 W. 38th Street from Friday through Sunday. The shop will carry a new Tumblr capsule collection as well as items by various indie designers, and also hold special events and meet-ups with Nicola Formichetti, Galore magazine and more. Second, it's inviting 11 bloggers (announced here exclusively), all of whom have all participated in the program previously. It's basically Tumblr's answer to the Alexander Wang 10th anniversary collection, and each blogger will get access to all Made Fashion Week and IMG/WME shows, as well as "many events and meet-ups with designers," according to a Tumblr rep.
John McLaughlin, who created the GIF with Anna Wintour above, is one of the bloggers returning to the NYFW program this year. "I didn't know who it was at first," he says of approaching Wintour. A multimedia artist, McLaughlin works mostly with animation and created a fuzzy 3-D character that he would have bounce off of people's hands (as seen above). "I just walked up to the people getting photographed the most," he explains, asking each one to hold up a hand. Wintour was unsurprisingly befuddled by his request, which he preceded by showing her a photo of Whoopi Goldberg doing it. "She was like, 'I don't know who you are or what you're doing, but whatever,' and she did it." After all, Wintour is nothing if not a supporter of the arts.
McLaughlin says his participation in the program begat a significant boost in freelance jobs, including one with Nicola Formichetti's line Nicopanda, and several requests to come to events and "create the fuzzy thing."
Like McLaughlin, Sam Cannon — who is also returning to the program this season — didn't have much industry knowledge before attending fashion week with Tumblr, and also works mostly with animation and GIFs. "It was terrifying and exciting to be thrown into something you knew nothing about," she says. Cannon was a student the first time she participated, and the experience, along with the exposure that came from it, led to a few jobs here and there. But the work has "snowballed" since then and she now shoots full-time, only a year out of college. Recently, Cannon collaborated with Free People.
Rachel Schwartzmann of The Style Line, another Tumblr success story, will also be returning to the program this season. While The Style Line now also exists as a full-blown website separate from Tumblr, Schwartzmann started it on the blogging platform in 2011. Through a partnership Tumblr had with Sony and Milk Studios in 2013, she was introduced to the CFDA, with whom she's since partnered on a sustainable design initiative with Melissa Joy Manning. The program also led to increased exposure, and The Style Line will soon hit 500,000 followers on Tumblr, where Schwartzmann still posts.
While some may have abandoned Tumblr in recent years for more elaborate websites or, ya know, Instagram, many artists and bloggers still prefer Tumblr for its personal feel, sense of community and lack of judgement. McLaughlin and Cannon are both partial to it for posting animated images (Instagram only recently began supporting loops). McLaughlin also likes that follower counts are less "in your face" than on Instagram. "If you're looking at someone's work and don't know how popular they are, there's that feeling of, I found something I really like," adds Cannon. "If you see at the top, [the number of] followers, you're like, oh people know this [already]." She says Tumblr feels "more diaristic" than other platforms, more like a comfortable place to "put little experiments" without overthinking how they look or how they'll be received. As McLaughlin puts it: "Stuff can happen that's cool."
Here's the full list of Tumblr all-stars covering NYFW this season: