Blogging & Business

The Downfall of Our Industry?

LOCATION:  Rome, Italy

vogue article

vogue articlevogue article vogue article vogue article

A few fashion week seasons ago, I sat on the sidelines and watched as what seemed like an open attack on the blogger and influencer industry by the editors of Vogue. In the piece that discussed the highs and lows of Milan Fashion Week, the editors griped about influencers and stated bloggers were “heralding the death of style”, and to “find another business.”  I watched as a handful of my peers sharply snapped back and applauded them for their eloquent responses. After all, with that spiteful rhetoric, all the article was intended to do was provoke a reaction – and that it did.

Yesterday, I awoke, early on a Monday morning to start my work week – like every other hard working individual – to another Vogue influencer-targetted article. Only this time, published by Vogue Arabia with the headline reading “Influencers are Sparking the Downfall of Their Industry.” Before entertaining the idea of reading what would seem to be a repeat of the above, I knew it was about to change my mood. But I was only somewhat right…

The article holds many interesting points and positions. Specifically on influencer cadences, robot followings, frustrations surrounding proper brand disclosures, and what real sale influence is. All questions I, too, wonder about when it comes to the transparency of the industry. Admittedly, I have some frustrations that lie in the world of social media – who doesn’t? I genuinely wonder if we will ever get to a place where honesty and transparency are more precious than likes and follower count. The state of Instagram today is responsible for our youth basing their self-worth on likes and followers. Where “self-made” is being misinterpreted for having to be overtly sexualized in photos and where comparison kills creativity.

But is all of this truly, the downfall of our industry? After all, influencer marketing has become an integral part of a cohesive digital marketing plan for many brands. With Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, we’ve gotten to a place where consumers finally have the freedom to choose what content they want to view. And influencers have become those trusted figures within niche communities who possess knowledge and experience about what they are advertising. Finally, brands can reach their target audiences through trusted, strategic partnerships…..right?

You see, I understand the crisis that the article is pointing out here.  “Influencers” or “bloggers” go from zero to millions of followers seemingly overnight and there’s no technology to prove if their followings are legitimate. The content posted is all too familiar, and then brands pay them based on this? Pretty sure that’s called fraud, and it needs to stop. Maybe some are losing touch with high level of trust that brands place on these partnerships.

This isn’t a new conversation, rather one that needs to be continued. Instead of letting all of this discourage me, what I do is turn that into motivation. Motivation to read, discuss and digest more about the ever-changing industry, to continue to work with brands to create original content that synchronizes with my written thoughts of substance in hopes to inspire you and I to have a conversation.

If I’m being straightforward, I’ve actually never identified with the label “influencer.” In my 11 years of working in fashion, I’ve worked as a publicist, columnist, and a stylist before launching my blog which as you know reading this, I still regularly publish stories too. My career history gives me a bit of perspective to see things a little differently which is why I felt it was important to speak up on this topic. It doesn’t make me a better blogger or influencer or what have you, but my college degree and over a decade in the fashion industry deserves something more than to be mocked by others in the fashion industry.

Because the truly unjustified bit of this article attempts to attack the intelligence of bloggers and influencers. I’m speaking about this line, specifically: “Where journalists are educated about international ethics at university, where models, sports, and culture personalities are protected by major agencies who follow universal rules of good governance, most influencers, are governed by themselves, friends, family, and boutique agencies.” Influencers are governed by themselves. Correct. We are. But those same universities also educate us. We’re also protected by those major agencies. A lot of us have had long-standing careers prior to picking this field (a field that we constantly have to defend). And for those of us who were not, or are not in the same boat, I thought it was time I took a position on the topic.

With a following comes tremendous responsibility. And the only way that we, as bloggers and influencers, will ever be able to come out from under the blanket of stereotypes and misconceptions, is to know what this responsibility is. There is a moral and ethical responsibility that comes with social media – social responsibility can not be traded for fame. We are living in an ecosystem built from our online connectivity. With that, comes the knowledge that we are leaving a digital footprint with every word we write and photo we post. There is a bigger picture to be understood here. For the sake of our growing industry, we must all, regardless of our education or career background, understand the tremendous amount of responsibility that comes along with having influence and being an “influencer.”

To look at it more closely, influence means; “the capacity to affect the character, development, or behavior of someone or something,” which implies that influence is a one-way street. It’s why I personally have a hard time identifying with the word. Because I am constantly inspired and influenced by so many forces at work around me. It’s not just me creating this world of influence. What I share is a culmination of all of the experiences I’ve ever known and continue to live through each day. When I share, you listen. When you share, I listen.

That’s what’s truly at the core of what inspires me to pour my heart and soul into this industry. So when it’s generalized in the way that it was in Vogue’s recent article, it’s easy take an opposing view. Especially when there’s a mass of influencers that stand by working with brands who long fit into their personal brand. With the responsibility of being an influencer comes the responsibility of being real with those you are sharing your life with. It’s the only fair way. It’s the only way to be authentic to your following, the brands you’re collaborating with, and to yourself. A fake following or a fake collaboration isn’t doing anything for anyone. Well, other than fueling articles like this from Vogue and an inauthentic industry.

So instead of being burned by this, I’ve chosen to find inspiration from it. From Arabia to the US,  Vogue is a media house that’s inspired me for 20+ years. It’s continuously pushing me to follow my fashion dreams as a creator. Just not always in the way I thought it would…

What I encourage you to do is the same. Use this article of theirs as fuel. Is it the downfall of our industry? Absolutely not! But what it’s attempting to point out is something I wholeheartedly agree with; To be real. Be authentic. Be original. Share an influence that moves this industry along while moving your personal growth in the same direction. Know yourself. Know your online presence. Never stop growing. Never stop creating. Know your self-worth lies within and not in the gram. The world is infinitely more substantial than the one you sometimes think lies at your fingertips.

Here’s to more support of an industry some of us have worked our asses off to build!

Now that I’ve given my opinion, I’d love to hear yours. Speak up – let’s keep this convo going.

Photography by Freddie Cipoletti.

Shop the post

Leave a comment, darling!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

45 Comments

  • Roses for Fridays | by mia  • 

    Wow such an interesting post … Merci for sharing your beautiful thoughts as always! ♥️

    ♥️ROSES FOR FRIDAYS ♥️ | by mia | A Creative Lifestyle Blog

  • Camille  • 

    Love the part where you point out your non-blogger experience and education. I hate when people say that bloggers are stupid or uneducated l. I graduated college, have a masters degree, AND ALSO 8 years in fashion and beauty doing ecommerce, marketing, and social media.

  • Ewa Macherowska  • 

    Love your dress! x

    http://www.evdaily.blogspot.com

  • BeingIsabella  • 

    This was definitely one inspiring post to wake up to this Tuesday morning and to start my work off! One thing I’ve always admired about the blogging and influencer industry is that we govern ourselves, as you pointed out as well as the Vogue article. While some may think this will lead to our downfall, I believe this is the point in which we succeed the most. We are the ones who are leading ourselves, meaning we know what the best decisions are in our business/brand because we know ourselves better than anyone else. Vogue watches our industry from a far, and whether or not they may think they know what goes on behind the scenes, they really don’t. And in fact, no one might even know, but those who are bloggers and influencers know the best so it’s only fair to say that we know our industry the best and know what point we’re at now. Not those who are just watching it’s peaks and falls. Thank you for sharing your opinion!

    http://www.beingisabella.com

  • I think what we are seeing in the reactions to Vogue is the same thing we’ve seen when an art form is invented or made more accessible to the masses. When photography came around painters freaked out because they thought that their medium would be replaced, and photography was questioned as an art form. Then cameras became accessible to the masses, and I seem to remember some of the professionals became concerned. Basically, when an industry expands there is a sudden influx of scrutiny because new things are being tried, and inevitably there will be mistakes.

    But the problems will sort themselves out. New genres and formats will be identified as humanity learns a new way to create. Rarely ever does a new form of creativity or art destroy a previous work before it, rather, that original form becomes more unique. To me Vogue and other fashion magazines already have an established voice. Influencers are something completely different, even though they address many of the same topics.

    Business and advertising has always been speckled with deception—it is no surprise that an emerging industry should face the same thing. It’s a fresh industry where the rules are still being written, and effective preventative measures against deception are still being worked. (Heck, considering the nature of the Internet the idea any business should even have the stability and core that influencers have is astounding.) As someone who works with history, I see this as a typical cycle of humanity. Though we live in an Instant era, we have to realize that fixing problems is never instant.

    In some ways, a lot of Vogue’s complaints come down to a perspective on diversity. When something becomes accessible to the masses you have an insurgency of voices. Some will be skilled and some won’t, and that’s okay. Fashion will stand as an art form, even if it isn’t used in the most magnificent of ways. Cheap writing has not diminished the power of classic novels. Influencers will not diminish the quality of higher fashion. More voices means more people will be able to enjoy fashion in some level, and might an Influencer be the start of setting someone on the path to study fashion at a more eloquent level?

    I’m a writer and a multimedia storyteller, and though I blog I don’t consider myself an influencer. (I create, and if people come to see it that’s great…kind of like an old-fashioned artist.) I studied writing and photography on the side, so blogging to me is exactly what I studied to do.

    It took me a couple of years to get the courage to blog because I was trained in the fine arts and my work has an intellectual quality about it, but I liked talking and writing about everyday things. I had to gain the courage to face people dismissing my novel writing in the future because I talk about fashion, but I also had to be okay with mixing my intellectual art side with my blog. (Mixing high and low happens in more than just fashion!) I spent a year and a half blogging to realize that I could not divorce one half from the other. While it doesn’t fit into any conventional categories, I am so proud of what I do because it is new, fresh, and I don’t see other people doing exactly what I am doing.

    All of it boils into the age-old debate of what is art, how do we define it, and what is worthy of the title. But I’ll say that while not all things are worthy of the title, it does not make its existence any less worthy of our attention. With time it will grow and mature, but for now we are toddling into a new future, and for that we must have patience.

    Thanks for writing this post, I really enjoyed it!

    Mary
    https://windandspindle.com/

    • Ivonne Spinoza  • 

      This is exactly what it is all about. What a great and complete reply to a very real and needed post 🙂

      http://www.misadventuro.us

    • Catherine (@sailorvenusdemilo)  • 

      Oh I love this perspective so so much, especially as someone with a fine arts degree as well. Everything you said – from fashion’s new accessibility to inheriting many of the problems that are rife within the marketing industry in general – is very spot-on.

      I also read an opinion piece on this article that distilled these sentiments down to sexism, which I can also understand. To be sure, I think transparency (disclosing ads, not buying fake followers, etc) and authenticity (showing who you are, not just what you wear) are SO important. But I discuss this with my boyfriend a lot. He plays videogames quite seriously and streams, and follows a lot of other streamers on Twitch. In fact, it’s a medium I find incredibly similar to YouTube, but also Instagram – influencers who aren’t just sponsored by games, but also by hardware companies, gear companies, hell anything from clothing to travel as well. There simply isn’t the volume of thinkpieces that exist about Twitch streamers burying themselves in financial ruin (though a setup for gaming and streaming can cost several thousand dollars at the LOW end) and destroying the culture of videogames. There is no “instagram boyfriend” equivalent of a “twitch girlfriend.” It’s hard for me to believe that gender doesn’t somehow factor into the ire aimed at influencers.

      • Wow! This is such an interesting perspective! My brother is into video games so I actually know a little bit about the world. It’s almost BIGGER than the IG world, insane!

  • Bryn Bradsher  • 

    I always love hearing your thoughts on the industry, Jenny. You have so much experience, as you pointed out, so your voice is one that I trust. I completely agree with your statement that with a following comes responsibility. Unfortunately, not all influencers feel the same way and that can tarnish the reputation of those who do. But I think that the followers of blogs and influencers can feel the authenticity. I know for me, I only look to my top influencers, you included, when it comes to trying new products or new places to shop, etc. I no longer tear through the pages of Vogue because that always seemed to be unattainable. There is a relationship between the influencer and the reader that cannot be discounted by people outside of the industry. Something that publications like Vogue are missing is the personal connection that establishes real influence. I don’t see a downfall coming for the industry but I do see a shift to more authentic and thoughtful content. Which I appreciate. Thank you so much for being open about this topic! xo Bryn

    http://www.waketonroad.com

    • As always, thank you for being here Bryn! SOOOO agree with the relationship that is formed within the influencer field that’s hard to attain through magazines. Such a smart thought!

  • This article is outstanding! Thank you for sharing this, speaking up and staying true to yourself! It’s true that there is a lot of “fake-ness” in the blogging/influencer world, but so is in every other industry on this planet. One’s morals and values don’t equal everyone elses’s and this industry as well as any other will not change who they are down to their core. But it’s those who stand up for what they believe in that will rise in the end! I applaud you for who you are and what you stand for!

    https://www.bloomingmagnoliasblog.com

  • Martina Pollard  • 

    Absolutely love your writing and this post, Jenny. I couldn’t agree more in turning something negatively said into a positive action on our part; to be authentic.
    I think with the saturation and the success that’s come to so many influencers, many brands and agencies that aren’t taking a part in collaborations perhaps are feeling the heat from the rest of the industry so they speak negatively as a way to rebel? Or perhaps are threatened and feel the need to make us feel ashamed for not going through more traditional channels to learn what we’ve learned thus far? Many also talk badly about influencers as they don’t understand the daily grind that accompanies the pretty photos and blog posts. Who knows? Whatever is said, I love your point that the best thing we can do for ourselves and our audience is be…ourselves. To continue to build trust in our following and nurture the amazing relationships that come from being an influencer.

    Thank you for the post, it helped a lot as it’s been one of my down and “comparison” days. I apprecaite it more than you know. Oh and EXCELLENT photos and outfit, you’re SLAYING!

  • Ivonne Spinoza  • 

    Vogue is speaking and always has spoken from a place of fear and manipulation on this topic.

    They, like all other giants who have ever felt threatened, have tried to discredit and diminish any and all new players who seem to disrupt their perceived hegemony. They don’t want “new” or any change that doesn’t serve their economic interests, so they only embrace the newcomers that play by their rules and help line the traditional fashion system’s pockets.

    It’s normal and to be expected (and ignored, tbh).

    All established industries sneer at anyone that could disrupt their current model and eventually make them irrelevant, and while I don’t agree both worlds can’t co-exist, the fact that they are lashing out only legitimizes us because it means they realize we mean business, and they consider us actual competition.

    So thanks, Vogue, for your validation wrapped in disdain. We must be onto something, after all, if you’re trying this hard to bring us down 😉

    It’s just history repeating itself, like Mary eloquently explained in another comment.

    http://www.misadventuro.us

  • Jhannyn  • 

    This was so gorgeous. What a great read.

  • Beautifully (and intelligently) written article. I love your positive perspective.

  • Jessica  • 

    Love your outfit so much! Hope y ou’re still loving NYC <3

    https://www.pennyanddash.com/

  • Taylor Aube  • 

    I love the thought you put into this, you’re very inspiring and I don’t think you need to prove your worth as a blogger/influencer as you are killing it at the game!
    https://stopdropandvogue.com/

  • Lauren Nakagawa  • 

    Very well said Jenny. I have a Costume Design background and worked for years at major film studios dressing talent, all while blogging on the side. I get frustrated when”influencers” are pegged as ignorant or lazy, because granted a lot are….many expect things without working for it. However, for those who really understand the day in day out work and stamina it takes to build a career, that’s who you need to surround yourselves with.

    xx
    Lauren
    http://www.shoesandsashimi.com

  • Mandy Mann  • 

    Not having read the Vogue article, I can only surmise, based on your post, that the concern is that bloggers, like the Kardashians, are blatantly about self-promotion at any cost to build a following. This may be true for some bloggers/influencers but one cannot lump the entire industry into the same bucket. There are many bloggers that are blogging about groups that have been traditionally ignored by Vogue and the fashion industry for decades, i.e., plus size fashion, women of color, vintage & thrift store fashion, and the list goes on. These bloggers get followers from being passionate and having relevant and creative content you can’t get from reading Vogue. The blogs I find annoying and rarely will read much less follow are those that are all about self-promotion and appears to be nothing more than ads for brands. An example, is when a fashion blogger is suddenly promoting a new skin care product every other week or because they bought a new house is now blogging about kitchen appliances. It feels “fake” and often boring because its not coming from their creative being, it’s written go pay bills. I totally understand that to take a blog from a hobby to a career one must be able to pay their bills but do so with collaberations you actually know and use and would recommend to your mom, sister or best friend. I think you keyed in on the main point i your post — be authentic and honest with your readers and it will show! Thanks for the post.

  • Deborah Lindsay  • 

    The Vogue article seems a bit “holier than thou.” After all, these are the people who gave us “heroin chic.” Social media produced by real people with real bodies has had an influence on the fashion industry; it has shifted authority – and thus profit – away from fashion magazines and toward what readers and followers believe are more authentic voices. Yes, there are ethical issues in the world of social media as there are in every other setting. It is always the reader/consumer’s responsibility to be discerning. I am not a blogger or influencer, just someone who enjoys the people I follow. Many thanks for your blog.

  • I will never accept people who criticize us bloggers/influencers. Yes, many of us have degrees, but whose who don’t and are killing it because they learnt along the way… why should we talk trash about them? To me that’s just plain jealousy because someone did something amazing without a degree.

    Sora | http://dangerouslyme.com/

  • I cannot tell you how much I agree with every word. Nowadays anyone can open an Instagram account and fake it till they make it if you know what I mean. It’s actually really sad and not funny, because it affects people who have real following and have built their brand for years. However, like you say, authenticity is the way to overcome it all. x

  • What a beautifully eloquently and intelligently written post. I completely agree with this 100% I think alot of articles these days, although granted have a few valid and fair points, are just written to shock and as you said provoke a reaction. I think the statement of it being the downfall of the industry is a little ridiculous. I think it’s maybe wishful thinking on their part as although they do provide alot of inspiration and insight, they can never have the same relationship as an’influencer’ and ‘follower’ when it is one based on trust. I do hate those words and ‘influencer’ just never seems to feel right to me either. You are so right when you say there is a responsibility to be real and genuine, I do find alot of people appear to not be and there is definitely a dark side to social media and influencing etc. Which can tarnish the good and cause misconceptions and negative opinions. But there is also such joy and inspiration in it. I am constantly inspired every day by it and it gives me the drive and motivation to keep myself going and improving. I agree there will probably be a shift in the industry, but only for the better to make it more transparent and honest. I really enjoyed reading this post you put your point across beautifully. Keep doing what you do you are beautiful inside and out x

powered by chloédigital