Fashion deserves the glossies

When designers create their collections, it takes months of research and preparation before the final vision is made. Once collections are complete, it is a lengthy process to campaign for them, shoot the designs to then send to fashion magazines for them to be published. 

Fashion is an art form, self-expression, a vision that is created by an inspired mind, and so after all this work has gone in behind the clothes, should they deserve anything less than to be published in anything other than a glossy magazine?

Sally Anne Argyle, currently working as a freelance stylist at Zest Magazine, said: “I love holding a magazine in my hands, feeling that paper and turning the page.

“There are amazing online magazines, but there is nothing quite like the real thing. Especially when you’ve done a beautiful shoot, printed on beautiful paper and it looks amazing, but online the images are flat.”

Sally-Anne Argyle spent weeks organising this main fashion story, that was kept under wraps until it was available to buy

Sally-Anne Argyle spent weeks organising this main fashion story, that was kept under wraps until the magazine was available to buy

A survey conducted with 18-25-year-olds found that nearly 60 per cent enjoyed reading magazines the most over newspapers and blogs. 

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Regardless of content, or whether the readers’ trust who is writing, magazines are seen as a luxury, associated with relaxation and enjoyment, away from the chaos that they can be inundated with online.

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Cosmopolitan embraces social media

image_1356910141562926Drenched in social media and with almost 50 per cent of the cover stories having been influenced by blogging, twitter and instagram, it is clear that journalism has entered a stage where a digital cross over is the key to survival.

Fashion assistant at Cosmopolitan, Holly Coopey, believes that the power will always remain in fashion magazines, but it is paramount for print to embrace the internet.

She said: “The digital platform is expanding at a rapid rate and we all need to evolve to produce content which fits on both platforms and has the maximum outreach.”

Though as oppose to fashion bloggers, the idea in print is not to create a reader community but to instead create content to inform, inspire and encourage creativity.

This not only maintains the one to many foundation on which print publications talk to their readers, but it also enforces a hierarchy representative of the research that has gone into making every published article.

“Print features with interviews often take weeks of work, a lot of online content can often be rough summaries of quick vox pops and info found online,” she said. “The authenticity of a lot of digital stories is questionable sometimes.”

Cosmopolitan has handled their digital cross over with great caution, making sure the quality of the magazine is transferred online while maintaining print values.

As with most print publications, the team have had to learn new roles and become multi-platform journalists.

She said: “The whole team takes responsibility for social media from a fashion point of view. We have to be careful we don’t compromise what we are producing though, so we keep shoot images behind closed doors until they are in print and on the shelf.”

The secrets to online conversion with More! Magazine

More_magazineThe first magazine to adapt successfully to the online revolution was More! a social media expert in the journalism industry.

Inspired by the power of social media, More! decided the only way they could embrace it was to find out what readers now wanted from their publications.

Online conversion is adapting to changing trends in reader interests.

After researching reader interests for a year, the magazine discovered that audiences were encouraging an obsession with self image as a result of their online habits.

To combat this unhealthy fixation, More! decided to use ‘real’ models and adapt their content to the ever changing trends on twitter and instagram.

The magazine has now re-launched to cater for their new-age 18-24-year-old audience, who have become more and more reliant on social media.

Sally-Anne Argyle was fashion editor at More! Magazine for seven years before becoming a freelance stylist at The Sun and Zest magazine. She said: “More! Magazine had more fans on facebook than any other publication for many years because we discovered very early on that was a brilliant media to talk to our readers, and they really enjoyed being talked to.”

Though most magazines have embraced social media, many are yet to keep up and accept that the secret to success lies in equality between the reader and the journalist.

Online conversion is a conversation between readers and journalists. 

Sally said: “A lot of magazines aren’t quite getting the importance and have, not snobbery but a hierarchy, they feel above it.

“Unfortunately it just comes down to people being too busy and magazines not employing enough people to do this, because it’s a whole other role I think.

“It’s so important but people are still unbelievably slow on the uptake which is a really poor move, we need to be keeping up.”

Online conversion is creating a brand that readers are interested in.

An interesting point brought up by Jennifer Faull is that young women create online profiles in an attempt to brand themselves. When setting up an online profile, whether it is on instagram, twitter or even a blog, initially no one knows who you are.

Anyone can post outfits they were always to shy to wear in public, say things they might have talked themselves out of saying in the past, and ultimately build up a community of people with shared interests.

Online conversion is approachable friendship.

Sally said: “Bloggers create that sort of approachable friendship, people don’t think it is above them. People don’t like being talked down to and they never have, I think a lot of fashion people are a bit like that. They can talk down to readers but that’s not right, it’s not the way I do my business.”

Reader interests and online trends are as vulnerable to change as fashion is from season to season. This is where bloggers have an advantage. Bloggers do not have a specific reader to cater for, unlike magazines. In order to converge successfully it seems that magazines now must be open to changing their content to suit the changing reader interests. But should the voices behind social media be entitled to the power to change the news agenda, especially when bloggers are not faced with this same issue.

Are magazine journalists are losing power where bloggers who control their own content are gaining it?

“The web is what you make of it.”

Determined to move her bullied daughter to a private school, Julie Deane wrote a list of ten ways to make money and pay for tuition fees. After discovering an old photograph of herself wearing a leather satchel as a little girl, she decided she would recreate a collection of them in the comfort of her own kitchen.

The web is what you make of it

After googling various ideas of how to get the satchels into the public eye, Julie sent every satchel she had made to fashion bloggers across the UK. The Cambridge Satchel Company is now an internationally recognised brand, admired by celebrities and featured in prestigious magazines such as Vogue, Elle and Glamour.

The power of the fashion blogger

The Cambridge Satchel Company clearly demonstrates the power of the fashion blogger. In an interview with Danika Daly for PR Couture, Julie Deane said: “The bloggers were instrumental. They were the one big thing. You get a mention in a magazine now and again, but the bloggers were always there. They were always supporting the brand.

“They developed such a relationship with the brand that they helped me with everything from choosing new colours  to what we could do with competitors. It brings the website to a trendy market instead of just school children, so I didn’t get pegged in that hole.

“It’s a tangible show of the power that the bloggers have. They all got behind something, and they made a real difference. It’s wrong to sideline them because they are so influential, important and approachable.”

Beauty blogger: “Honesty is the key to trust”

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Ayshe Ismail believes her honesty about products gains readership

I met beauty blogger Ayshe Ismail, 28, at an event recently to discuss the authority of rising power bloggers in the fashion industry. Ayshe is a magazine journalist who uses any spare time she has, whether it is the morning commute or during a busy lunch break, to update her beauty blog Discovering Beauty.

Having studied science at university, Ayshe tests and explains the effectiveness of the ingredients in the products, rather than being drawn in to clever marketing.

Bloggers have so many followers, how did you gain your trust with you readers?

“I think because I’ve always been honest with my reviews and I’ll always try and be balanced. I’m never harsh but I do weigh up the good and the bad about the product. (My blog is more beauty based). I guess that because I go out and spend my own money on things it shows that I believe in what I do. And you’re then more likely to be a bit more critical of something rather than when you’ve just been sent it for free. In terms of trust, I’m more likely to believe something that I read on a blog because I feel like in a magazine the aim is to sell more products, you never see anything negative and you never see anything saying, this might not be good for this kind of person.  With a blog they’ll say ‘I’ve got this skin type and this doesn’t work for me but it might work for this instead’. I think you can tell when people do a sponsored post, by the tone of voice. Sometimes you’ll be reading it and think, this sounds different to how they normally talk.”

So would you say the main difference is that magazines have a motive whereas bloggers don’t?

“I think some people can be honest even when they’ve been given something but I guess that’s when your influence really comes into play. When you’re a smaller blogger it is harder for you to become critical because you might not have the fans interacting with you if you’re being negative. But when you’re a big blogger you can afford to be more honest because you’ve already got that following and have earned that trust. I have no idea how you get there, I just know it can take a while.”

Do did you read blogs before you started?

“Yes, I watched a lot of YouTube and read a lot of blogs. I have my own beauty blog because I’m more interested in skincare over anything else. I used to have quite bad acne so when I started trying to fix that, I wanted to share how I did it. What I liked, and didn’t like. I got more into make-up and carried on that way.”

There’s a shared belief that magazine and print journalism is dying out, what are your views on that?

“I hope that it doesn’t  I hope that there is always print journalism. I am also a magazine journalist so I hope there is a place for it. Print is slowly going to die down but I think it will always exist. Blogs are good for getting someone’s opinion but when it comes to skincare, especially when they talk about how stuff works, I’m probably more likely to believe something in a magazine than in a blog because I don’t necessarily know where that person has got their information from – have they just taken it from the back of a bottle? Maybe I make that assumption that the journalist actually does the background research so they might have a bit more authority when it comes to speaking about that sort of thing.”

How important are your readers to you?

“They’re really important, I’m always trying to think about what they want to know and how to get them engaged. It does mean a lot to me when they comment. Whether they’re commenting on the post that I have written, or just as a whole they do mean a lot.”

Do you think that because you can adapt to your readers as you get to know them, you’re almost catering better than magazines?

“Yeah, I think it’s a learning process because I’ve had my blog for over two years, its given me a chance to learn what works better. I ask myself, do I need lots of pictures, or text, or do I need to explain different things? I’ve had a lot of chance to play with it. I guess this is what magazines can’t do.”

So do you find multimedia an effective tool on your blog?

“I’ve definitely got more into photography since I started. On other blogs, I value seeing really good photographs and good product shots.”

With blogs it’s more about creating short and snappy pieces and making them really visual, but because of the limited time you have to do this, do you think the quality can be compromised?

“I think so, it depends on the blog as well. I reckon there would be a lot more pressure for someone who has to try and get out there first with a new product or a new item. I’m in a place where I don’t do that. So it means I can take a bit more time and I can be a bit more detailed. I think that’s what my readers value. I wouldn’t want someone to come away from my post with questions.”

So they value the accuracy and quality of your articles?

“I hope so! You want to be that person who gets things out before everyone else and you also want to have a good detailed review with pictures, you have to have a balance.”

Keep updated with Ayshe’s honest beauty tips, news and reviews here: www.discoveringbeautytoday.blogspot.co.uk

Are celebrities the new gatekeepers?

As suggested by Andrew Currah in his work ‘What’s happening to our news?’ due to a 24/7 news real, emphasis has been shifted from news gathering to news processing. This lack of attention to detail within the content because of the speed at which it needs to be produced has damaged the news agenda and the way we gatekeep stories.

But if we are saying that the news is not as good as it used to be, we need to justify whether or not journalism was flawless in the past.

David Broder from the Washington Post describes the newspaper that arrives on your doorstep as “a partial, hasty, incomplete, inevitably somewhat flawed and inaccurate rendering of some of the things we heard in the past 24 hours.”

So was there ever a golden era for journalism?

The news has always been limited by speed and accuracy, only we never had the time to mull over the mistakes in newspapers before they were disposed of and forgotten about. The difference in the digital age is that news can be read time and time again by consumers as they are preserved in the internet archives.

If accuracy has always been an issue, what are the real changes in journalism?

Boris Johnson

Evidence shows that there has been a growing demand for views and comments of the journalists. It’s a fair requirement of the consumer to want to know facts and what the journalists think of the facts themselves. But now comment sections are taking over space where news would originally be, and there has been a visible increase in ‘celebrity’ columnists. The Daily Telegraph pays Boris Johnson £250,000 for his weekly column – an 82 per cent higher pay packet than his Mayor of London salary.

The news agenda is being shaped by consumer demands and need to fill space with no time to go out and find the real news.

And while consumers want to read what celebrities have to say, celebrities are also controlling what is said about them. PR stunts conveniently timed with album release dates or film premiers consistently make the news. Shifting the power of the journalist as a gatekeeper, to the power of the celebrities who have influence over consumers.

In drastic cost cutting measures, newsrooms often rely on unpaid interns to produce the work of those who they could not afford to pay any more. This lack of staffing and time is having a serious effect on the quality and accuracy of the news being produced. The PCC’s data shows that volumes of complaints have increased by 70 per cent in the past 16 years.

These are just a selection of alternative ways in which the digital revolution has impacted journalism, other than the well debated issues of time, money, quality and accuracy.

How do you think journalism has changed in the digital age?

What makes news local?

Buying a newspaper in a certain area, makes news local. Watching the news on TV in a certain area, makes news local. But what happens when local news can be found online, accessed by anyone, anywhere in the world? Is this still local?

As argued by Ross Hawkes in ‘What do we mean by local?’ The idea of “community” cannot even be described as a purely geographic phenomenon, with many people having a greater empathy and connection to an online social group than to their physical neighbours.

But how many people, who have no connections with a particular area, actually interact on local news sites with comments that mean something? An online local community could still be around, only we assume that because anyone can comment, anyone does.

Interaction has inevitably become a huge part of the news production, and has clearly been a reason for raising debate over whether news can still be local.

But something we need to remember is that interaction is nothing new. Letters to the editor have been in practice for years and there is arguably little difference in the two types of communication.

Of course, writing a letter is a longer process that requires time and effort to think of content worth sending, and online comments can be a result of impulse. But the main thing they have in common is that anyone can contribute.

People are less likely to read a local paper if they are not in the area, but the point is, they still can.

Local news is about creating a community and community shouldn’t be invite only. We have arrived at a stage in journalism where discourse is created on a many to many framework and people want to be involved in the discussion. It is the readers that are arguably maintaining the buzz in journalism and this is something that should be celebrated, no matter what their postcode.

Beauty and the brain: the fashion youtube sensations

Yesterday I went to a Beauty and the Brain event in East London, which celebrated four of the top UK fashion and beauty youtube sensations.

Attendees were greeted with champagne and cupcakes and seated before a stage, where the online style gurus were inundated with questions about how they reached their success with just a laptop, camera and a passion to share, talk and write.

Once the bloggers had exhausted their wisdom, we were all treated to manicures, makeovers and a free photobooth to serve as a’memory of the day’.

No doubt these youtubers work hard, filming, editing and publishing videos every three days, and blogging throughout the week. But the extravagant event that was laid out for these girls, who began blogging for enjoyment, only made me more excited about my project.

They are extremely opinionated, have posts filled with self expression, with content ranging from personal to factual and as a result, have worked with huge brands like ASOS and one had interviewed Pixie Lott after blogging for just two years.

I managed to have many of my questions answered, which will be published in a later post. But to give you an idea of the work that they produce, here are a few examples of fashion videos from their YouTube channels.

Patricia at Brit Pop Princess

Suzi at Style Suzi

Rhiannon Ashlee at Fashion Rocks My Socks

Wande Alugo at Wande’s World

My research proposal explained

This blog started off as a place where I could debate the current readings and investigations into the impact of the online revolution. Now, I want to create some research of my own.

Not only does the issue of quality, trust and accuracy arise in online journalism on a daily basis. But also whether or not blogs that are saturated in self-expression should be treated professionally by, in particular, fashion brands and PR companies.

During an internship at New Look PR I arranged goodie bags filled with expensive gifts ranging from iPad cases to jewellery for a fashion blogger event. During the event, the fashion bloggers could pick their favourite item and talk about how they would wear it on a promotional video:

Knowing full well that most blogs start off as chatty outlets in the bloggers’ bedroom, it made me wonder, why do brands put their trust in, and rely on fashion bloggers?

Below is my project proposal for my research:

Hypothesis for research

Authority in fashion journalism has shifted from mainstream print magazines to fashion bloggers. A critical study of the new power bloggers in the fashion industry

Research questions that arise from this hypothesis

  • If journalists consistently question the ability of bloggers, why do PR companies treat them like royalty?
  • Do readers trust people that they can identify with?
  • Do readers enjoy the blur between professionalism and personalisation?
  • Do readers like to be a part of reader communities?
  • How do bloggers gain trust?
  • Is the ‘many to many’ interaction online favourable over the ‘one to many’ interaction with magazines?
  • What would be the equivalent print publication to fashion blogs targeted at a market of aged 16- 25 year olds?
  • Are fashion bloggers filling a gap in the market?
  • Do bloggers call themselves journalists?
  • How do magazine journalists view fashion bloggers?
  • Why do magazines now have blogs?

Method

  • Interviews with:

–          Fashion bloggers and youtubers

–          Magazine journalists to create a fair and balanced argument

–          Fashion PR companies who rely on bloggers to promote their brands.

–          Readers of both magazines and blogs

  • Literature review to create arguments for and against my hypothesis by debating current research
  • Vox pops
  • Surveys
  • Sparking debate on my blog

Practical project

Create my own fashion blog…

Article ideas

  • Transcripts of interviews with bloggers
  • Debates and my take on readings and findings
  • Articles of statistics from my surveys
  • Video, images, multimedia
  • Comparisons between blogs and magazines

How my project fits in with my research

  • Will help to test the idea of reader communities

–          e.g. if a interviewee blogger with loyal readers retweets my article, how many hits will I get?

  • Will open doors to interaction with other fashion bloggers so I can create more accurate research and recieve more honest answers
  • Gain an understanding of how bloggers earn trust
  • Analyse the view that bloggers have authority over magazines

How it fits in with my hypothesis

Debates from readings have shown that quality, trust and accuracy are major issues related with blogs. I want to challenge this shared belief and show that all of these things can be found within fashion blogs in order to test the idea that they have gained authority.

By blogging myself I will be able to test the truth in the view that the internet generation are more interested in “self-expression than learning about the outside world; anonymous blogs and user-generated content is deafening today’s youth to the voices of informed experts and professional journalists.” (Keen,2007)

And compare them to the opposing view that “technology has become a whole new artistic medium for self-expression” (Schwartzmann, 2011) and debate whether or not if the subject matter is creative and subjective, should self-expression be an issue?

Should professionals rely on social media?

A definitive point for modern politics was during the 2010 elections when social media dramatically changed voting trends. As discussed by Nic Newman in “Mainstream media and the role of the internet,” these were the first elections to receive unprecedented participation online.

Following the shocking stats that 90% of 18-24 year olds do not read a newspaper, political campaigns took to TV, radio and facebook in an attempt to reach younger audiences, and it worked. In particular, an increase in activity could be seen among this age group whose activity increased by 7% between 2005 and 2010.

And why wouldn’t it? At least 1 in 4 of us Brits spend more time online than we do sleeping according to a poll created by Sky Broadband. The survey revealed that 51 per cent of us are suffering from ‘e-anxiety’ if we are unable to check our emails or Facebook page for any extended period of time.

Head of Digital engagement at The Guardian, Meg Pickard, suggests that online enrichment of different views is where social media shines. She said “Where we have seen social media come alive in this campaign is where it has been able to add extra perspective and community or social discovery and fun in the case of posters and playfulness.”

Participation in influential elections and enriching an online community is enviably so important, but what are the downsides to reliance on social media?

Twitter contains information from official and unofficial sources where messages arrive in the order that they are received. Perfect for keeping up-to-date with what people are doing all around the world, but not so perfect in terms of filtering the fact from fiction.

Alfred Herminda in “Twittering the news” suggests that as a result of this, journalists should be open to gate keeping the twitter feed. He describes journalists as a “node in a complex environment between technology and society, between news and analysis between annotation and selection, between orientation and investigation.”

If social media is going to be used by influential professionals, should we expect journalists to filter and gate keep what comes up in our news feed? And if they did, would that take away from the freedom we have as individuals to express ourselves online?

I think the wealth of information available to us should remain exactly that. If we want to learn the facts it should be up to us to decipher what is worth spending our precious 9 hours of internet time giving hits to.

We wouldn’t sacrifice our precious sleep over it if this was the case..