Welcome to our column, "Hey, Quick Question," where we investigate seemingly random happenings in the fashion industry. Enjoy!
In case you missed it, Vogue set the internet on fire this week when it declared war against the bloggers — at least, that's how we'll tell the tale to our children.
What actually happened is that a handful of editors used their Milan Fashion Week wrap up to get in a few digs against bloggers, deeming them "the death of style." The primary issues with this piece have all been well-tread. What we're here to discuss is the secondary issue with Vogue's blogger takedown piece: What, or who, even is a blogger anymore? Likely, many of the people with whom the Vogue editors took issue are not actually bloggers, but influencers — which are two different things. The simplest way to denote this difference is: Almost all bloggers are influencers. Not all influencers are bloggers.
Still confused? Think of it as a Venn diagram, with "blogger" and "influencer" as two concentric circles. (For the sake of simplification, let's consider "vlogger" a subset of "bloggers.") There's a much larger overlap with blogger, because most of those women have achieved influencer status through their blogs. Chiara Ferragni (The Blonde Salad), Rumi Neely (Fashion Toast), and Aimee Song (Song of Style) are some of the biggest success stories from this sphere. These are women who have parlayed their blogs into bigger businesses, raking in millions of dollars in the process. A good rule of thumb: If you know someone exclusively by the name of a website, but would be hard-pressed to give their full name, they're a blogger.
Influencers, however, don't have to have blogs. These are the people who are often at all the best parties and front rows at shows because they have massive followings; at one time, they may have been called "It Girls," or, depending on ancestry, "Socialites." Agencies like Kitten Agency, Next and One.1k have popped up to help these girls monetize their online presence. (This may include launching a blog to run ads/referrals, but does not make them bloggers because the blog came after — make sense?) Fashion illustrator and The Sartorialist's Fashion Director Jenny Walton is an influencer; so are DJs Harley Viera Newton, Leigh Lezark and Hannah Bronfman. Vine star Cameron Dallas is definitely an influencer. Caroline Vreeland, great-granddaughter to Diana Vreeland, has never had a fashion blog but regularly appears in street style slide shows with bestie Shea Marie (who is a blogger — Peace Love Shea).
There are exceptions to all of this, of course. People like Susie Bubble and Bryanboy have all but transcended the "blogger" title at this point by earning the respect of some of the top designers and editors in fashion. Outlets like Leandra Medine's ManRepeller and Garance Doré started as personal blogs, but are now fully staffed websites. Street style photographers such as Scott Schuman (The Sartorialist), Phil Oh (Street Peeper) and Tommy Ton (Jak and Jil) all got their start as bloggers, but shed that title as street style became a global business and they branched into the commercial sphere. Websites that launched around the same time as the blogging phenomenon — Fashionista, Into the Gloss, The Cut, etc — are definitely no longer blogs (if they ever were).
So really, when the Vogue editors lashed out against bloggers, what they likely meant was "influencers." But they said bloggers, because despite what you may have been told, "blogger" is still something of a derogatory term, often deployed by the established old guard to denote someone who hasn't earned their spot at the table. In certain circles, to be a "blogger" in fashion is to be less than, a secondary caste of internet upstarts with no real talent or influence.
Of course, none of this will ultimately matter when the bubble finally bursts on #influencer marketing in another year or so, and we have to come up with a newer term for whatever comes after. Isn't fashion fun?