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.

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

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?