You know you’re a D-list blogger when it’s New York Fashion Week and your B- and C-list blogger friends start to ask: "What shows are you going to? Were you invited to this party? That party? Are you sponsored this year?" To which you can only reply: "Do fashion shows have plus ones? How many PRs can I email in a day without sounding desperate? By 'sponsored' do you mean... wait, what do you mean?"
My name is Sean Santiago and I’m the Brooklyn gay behind Fruit Punch (menswear with a twist, never straight up). Maybe you’ve stumbled across my mug while Googling Kool-Aid recipes? For two and a half years, I’ve been toiling away, shooting and writing and schlepping duffel bags full of outfits in the hopes that some Fashion Week in the near future, I wouldn't be left refreshing my spam folder, wondering if my Public School invite got waylaid. I’m the blogger you’ve never pinned to your “My Style” board, the one you won’t recognize from your Tumblr dash. I don’t have the click-through rate to host an ASOS giveaway, and I’ve never put together a media kit (for shame!).
But don’t think this is a pity party -- even being a D-list blogger has its perks, like a lot of free Prosecco and getting recognized in a gay bar that one time. And it’s not that I’m just dying to #selfie from the front row. I’d love for Fashion Week to be an opportunity to create for my blog the kinds of features that I want to read: all-access backstage at Duckie Brown; chatting with Patrik Ervell about mood boards and fabric swatches; live-tweeting an orgy with Humberto Leon and Carol Lim.
I got a handful of invites this year, though I wasn’t technically invited to everything I went to -- list confusion (“You’re here to help do makeup?”) and my apparent certainty (“I have emails! I have cell numbers!”) proved persuasive enough to get my foot in the door. Being strictly D-list, I’m always left wondering if someone will call me on my bluff, wondering if I look as out of place as I initially feel -- but security asks to see my wristband and I’m in.
What events I do go to I excitedly document and hashtag as if they were the moon landing. “Shoes are everywhere! Hats have never felt more now! Standing is the new sitting! #NYFW #MBFW #FOMO.” At the end of each show, the whole experience gets reinterpreted for social media with every editor and their mother tagged: a mind-numbing cluster becomes an “intimate presentation;” a dearth of party invites becomes “Heading home for the night to recuperate with @juicepressny and @LuckyMag! #Blessed;” the 20-minute line for the elevator at the Standard a communal badge of honor. An acute awareness of my weak social media ranking (1,000 is the new 1) spurs on ever more elaborate Instagram captions, bordering on some kind of frenetic poetry nobody really wants to read.
The shows are only half the attraction, anyway. Did I get picked up by The Blogs? Can you find me on the Sartorialist -- or was I snapped for Buzzfeed’s "35 People Dressed Like Your Mom in 1994 at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week"? (The latter.) But street style bait I have never been, a fact I was reminded of by sauntering around outside Lincoln Center with a friend in designer cutout booties. “Balenciaga!” shouted a photographer, assuming the telltale crouch of a seasoned street peeper. I stepped aside, aware I was doing it all wrong. I’m just a boy, standing in front of a street style photographer, asking him to realize that I’m layering with a YSL reproduction wrap skirt from the '70s. No dice.
That’s all right with me -- for now. I’m not doing this to get famous for the sake of fame, though a few more guys recognizing me in gay bars could do wonders for my sex life. Blogging isn’t something I got into for the perks, because most of the time, there are none. I’m not adding to the cacophony of real-time video feeds, live tweets and blurry runway pics for my health, but because I’m only too happy to be standing by a runway at all. I tag editors whose careers I’ve been following since I could pronounce "Lanvin" because they’re the reason I care about fashion in the first place. Sure, the social side of Fashion Week can be great -- who wouldn’t love an open-bar party where you can accidentally-on-purpose brush up against Garrett Neff’s ass? But the truth of the matter is, I didn’t really come for the party, I came for the clothes.