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post #99436 of 109053
Quote:
Originally Posted by unbelragazzo View Post

Warning: Random thoughts on fashun blogging (Click to show)
@LA Guy
@dieworkwear

Sorry it took me a few days to catch up to the discussion a few days ago about the present and future of blogging. Anyway I will try to add my $0.02, though even at that price you should probably wait for further markdowns.

There are a few difficulties that I see with the move towards more brand-driven content. The main one is that, especially in the 'Classic Menswear' world, brand-focused writing is the most difficult to make interesting. I've done quite a few of these types of articles for Styleforum and the No Man Walks Alone blog, and even by my own self-serving reckoning, they are of varying interest. I pretty much never do them for my own blog, because they just aren't as much fun. They can work when the writer has an individual or an experience to latch onto, through which they can give you some insight into the brand. The best of this genre that I remember reading is this writeup of Roubi L'Roubi of Huntsman:

http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/london-life/investment-banking-and-savile-row-are-not-so-different-pierre-lagrange-on-owning-and-living-the-historic-huntsman-brand-9477353.html

I did an article on Huntsman for Styleforum and had an interview scheduled with L'Roubi, but unfortunately at the last minute he was pulled out of town on some project. @RJman's pieces on various brands for A Suitable Wardrobe are also interesting because he has such exhaustive knowledge of each brand's corporate history, and because he builds up credibility by simultaneously undercutting the brand's PR and unearthing what's genuinely unique and valuable about the brand.

But the typical brand writeup is not nearly this good, for a few reasons:

1) Generally the writer can only talk to the company's PR people, who know the "party line" but probably represent a dozen other brands too, so they can't really be associated with the company the way somebody like L'Roubi can. If you write a piece about how some PR rep comes off over email, nobody will particularly care.

2) All these PR people say the same things. You could go to 20 brand reps in the Pitti main pavilion and every spiel will sound pretty much the same except for when the company was founded and what part of Italy their things are made in. It's like there's a Pitti Mad Libs somewhere they all follow. If you read brand descriptions or 'About Us' pages on retailer sites then you know how it goes. Every single one of them will tell you about how much handwork goes into each jacket, how their company is really well known for soft construction and unique fabrics, etc etc etc.. It's hard to write something interesting about 20 brands that are each telling you the same thing. But at the same time:

3) You have very little information beyond what the company tells you. Again, absent a revealing interaction with someone high up in the company, pretty much all you have to go on is what you see from the clothes, and what the rep tells you. And what he tells you is just what he heard from the company itself, which is again is the same boilerplate from everybody. So you've got your own impression to go on. It takes a really large amount of knowledge to try on a couple of jackets (if you're at Pitti, you must be a size 50 to do this and get much from it) and understand enough about the differences between these jackets and the quite similar ones at the other stands to write about it credibly, much less compellingly. Blogs like @jefferyd's are awesome because Jeffery is hugely knowledgable and spends hours dissecting a jacket, photographing its innards, and telling us what we're seeing.

I've tried various experiments to make these things more interesting, but it's hard. Getting interviews with people really involved with the brand helps. Focusing on individual pieces (even if, in CM, there's a good chance this piece will never be in a store and the design choices involved represent little more than the designer choosing a swatch and having it made up in one of their standard cuts) can work. But sometimes no matter how hard you try not to, you sit down and start writing, and you end up with something that sounds a lot like the company's PR, even if you genuinely like the brand's products and are trying to express your personal reasons for why.

Maybe it's easier in street wear with the brands being more differentiated, but I don't really have enough direct experience to say.

Then there is the issue that started this discussion, which is that brands pay for content. This is a problem not just for the articles that are actually bought and paid for. It's a problem for all brand-centric articles, because the reader can't be sure that the writer hasn't been bribed by the brand. So the article that comes out in PR-ese, even if written by a writer that hasn't been paid by the brand, is suspicious. Also, as I said, you get most of your information from the brands themselves. This means, even if you're not getting free stuff: 1) You have to play at least somewhat nice if you want to keep getting information 2) You build up personal relationships with people at these brands, and even if they're not serious blood brotherhoods, you feel surly fighting against the brand's story too much.

Finally, and perhaps least importantly but most interestingly, as a culture we have an uncertain relationship with authorial intent. People seem unsure whether or not a creator should have full control of the interpretation and use of his creation or not, and, in an age of reblogging and "reinterpreting" and "appropriating", what creation even entails. Most of the designers I've talked to are actually completely happy to release their jawnz into the wild and have people use them however they want. But there's a tendency, when a designer tells you something is meant one way, and you see it another way, to just convey the designer's interpretation instead of injecting your own, since after all you had nothing to do with its creation so how can you know what it means.

So doing this type of article well takes a really large amount of research from someone who is already pretty knowledgable in the general area and confident in his own voice. The typical blogger ain't got time for that. And why should he? Blogging doesn't pay very well. Any labor is of love. There are a few people doing that, but they are drown out by a large number of people reblogging brand PR, and those people generally have better pictures and web design, which is what seems to drive traffic anyway.

Which leads me to my last point, which is that in the end it's the traffic that matters. Most people don't have the time or inclination to read an in depth piece on some random brand. Like Derek said, most people just want to find some cool stuff to wear sometimes, and maybe occasionally look at some nice pictures for some eye candy. They aren't bothered by copy that's just "check out this brand, it's great!" And brands are more than happy to pump that kind of stuff into any blogger that asks for it. This is nothing against PR people...that's they're job. But they don't really care if your post is well-written or gives a unique and interesting angle on the brand's history or products. They don't really know much about the brand beyond the four paragraphs in the brand's marketing materials. As long as you post something with the brand's name and some decent pictures, they're good with it. In fact, great with it!

EDIT: After posting I realized how long and rambling this post is. I am spoilering so as not to bother the tl;dr crowd.

Thank you. Sometime around 3pm today, I will probably be in the bathroom for a long time because of the very grainy cereal I will eat for breakfast. I will read this long manuscript then.
post #99437 of 109053
Quote:
Originally Posted by dieworkwear View Post


For this very reason I try to make my writing as conducive to bowel movements as possible.
post #99438 of 109053
Great post. The short answer from my experience is that No, it's no different on the streetwear side, except that often the brands are smaller and I can talk to the designers themselves rather than the PR agents. But the brand rhetoric is largely the same - "Easy to wear, all ages, goes with everything, dress it up or down." Interestingly, a handful of people I spoke to at June's show said they were considering ending their run at Pitti, precisely because it's gotten so over-saturated and indistinguishable.

The resurgence of the cult of the author is a very strange thing, and I don't know whether that's something that's spilled over into contemporary literature from the internet or vice versa. But I think it's very visible in fashion, too: developing a "voice" is the primary concern of most bloggers (and designers), and people certainly latch onto individuals with any point of view perceived as "strong." On the designer side, I've talked to a mixture. Some people seem to be very adamant that their clothes are "this, and not that," others are, as you say, very happy to let the buyer do what they want with the clothing - it doesn't seem to depend on the relative "commerciality" of the brand. The strangest thing, to me, is consumers telling other consumers what does or does not constitute an outfit in line with the designer's vision - which is not only impossible to know but epically irrelevant. What we refer to as "brand synergy" is sometimes an offshoot of this. I dislike it immensely.

Anyway, good food for thought. I read a grand total of one fashion blog, and otherwise I stick to fora.
post #99439 of 109053
Quote:
Originally Posted by unbelragazzo View Post
  Warning: Random thoughts on fashun blogging (Click to show)
@LA Guy
@dieworkwear

Sorry it took me a few days to catch up to the discussion a few days ago about the present and future of blogging. Anyway I will try to add my $0.02, though even at that price you should probably wait for further markdowns.

There are a few difficulties that I see with the move towards more brand-driven content. The main one is that, especially in the 'Classic Menswear' world, brand-focused writing is the most difficult to make interesting. I've done quite a few of these types of articles for Styleforum and the No Man Walks Alone blog, and even by my own self-serving reckoning, they are of varying interest. I pretty much never do them for my own blog, because they just aren't as much fun. They can work when the writer has an individual or an experience to latch onto, through which they can give you some insight into the brand. The best of this genre that I remember reading is this writeup of Roubi L'Roubi of Huntsman:

http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/london-life/investment-banking-and-savile-row-are-not-so-different-pierre-lagrange-on-owning-and-living-the-historic-huntsman-brand-9477353.html

I did an article on Huntsman for Styleforum and had an interview scheduled with L'Roubi, but unfortunately at the last minute he was pulled out of town on some project. @RJman's pieces on various brands for A Suitable Wardrobe are also interesting because he has such exhaustive knowledge of each brand's corporate history, and because he builds up credibility by simultaneously undercutting the brand's PR and unearthing what's genuinely unique and valuable about the brand.

But the typical brand writeup is not nearly this good, for a few reasons:

1) Generally the writer can only talk to the company's PR people, who know the "party line" but probably represent a dozen other brands too, so they can't really be associated with the company the way somebody like L'Roubi can. If you write a piece about how some PR rep comes off over email, nobody will particularly care.

2) All these PR people say the same things. You could go to 20 brand reps in the Pitti main pavilion and every spiel will sound pretty much the same except for when the company was founded and what part of Italy their things are made in. It's like there's a Pitti Mad Libs somewhere they all follow. If you read brand descriptions or 'About Us' pages on retailer sites then you know how it goes. Every single one of them will tell you about how much handwork goes into each jacket, how their company is really well known for soft construction and unique fabrics, etc etc etc.. It's hard to write something interesting about 20 brands that are each telling you the same thing. But at the same time:

3) You have very little information beyond what the company tells you. Again, absent a revealing interaction with someone high up in the company, pretty much all you have to go on is what you see from the clothes, and what the rep tells you. And what he tells you is just what he heard from the company itself, which is again is the same boilerplate from everybody. So you've got your own impression to go on. It takes a really large amount of knowledge to try on a couple of jackets (if you're at Pitti, you must be a size 50 to do this and get much from it) and understand enough about the differences between these jackets and the quite similar ones at the other stands to write about it credibly, much less compellingly. Blogs like @jefferyd's are awesome because Jeffery is hugely knowledgable and spends hours dissecting a jacket, photographing its innards, and telling us what we're seeing.

I've tried various experiments to make these things more interesting, but it's hard. Getting interviews with people really involved with the brand helps. Focusing on individual pieces (even if, in CM, there's a good chance this piece will never be in a store and the design choices involved represent little more than the designer choosing a swatch and having it made up in one of their standard cuts) can work. But sometimes no matter how hard you try not to, you sit down and start writing, and you end up with something that sounds a lot like the company's PR, even if you genuinely like the brand's products and are trying to express your personal reasons for why.

Maybe it's easier in street wear with the brands being more differentiated, but I don't really have enough direct experience to say.

Then there is the issue that started this discussion, which is that brands pay for content. This is a problem not just for the articles that are actually bought and paid for. It's a problem for all brand-centric articles, because the reader can't be sure that the writer hasn't been bribed by the brand. So the article that comes out in PR-ese, even if written by a writer that hasn't been paid by the brand, is suspicious. Also, as I said, you get most of your information from the brands themselves. This means, even if you're not getting free stuff: 1) You have to play at least somewhat nice if you want to keep getting information 2) You build up personal relationships with people at these brands, and even if they're not serious blood brotherhoods, you feel surly fighting against the brand's story too much.

Finally, and perhaps least importantly but most interestingly, as a culture we have an uncertain relationship with authorial intent. People seem unsure whether or not a creator should have full control of the interpretation and use of his creation or not, and, in an age of reblogging and "reinterpreting" and "appropriating", what creation even entails. Most of the designers I've talked to are actually completely happy to release their jawnz into the wild and have people use them however they want. But there's a tendency, when a designer tells you something is meant one way, and you see it another way, to just convey the designer's interpretation instead of injecting your own, since after all you had nothing to do with its creation so how can you know what it means.

So doing this type of article well takes a really large amount of research from someone who is already pretty knowledgable in the general area and confident in his own voice. The typical blogger ain't got time for that. And why should he? Blogging doesn't pay very well. Any labor is of love. There are a few people doing that, but they are drown out by a large number of people reblogging brand PR, and those people generally have better pictures and web design, which is what seems to drive traffic anyway.

Which leads me to my last point, which is that in the end it's the traffic that matters. Most people don't have the time or inclination to read an in depth piece on some random brand. Like Derek said, most people just want to find some cool stuff to wear sometimes, and maybe occasionally look at some nice pictures for some eye candy. They aren't bothered by copy that's just "check out this brand, it's great!" And brands are more than happy to pump that kind of stuff into any blogger that asks for it. This is nothing against PR people...that's they're job. But they don't really care if your post is well-written or gives a unique and interesting angle on the brand's history or products. They don't really know much about the brand beyond the four paragraphs in the brand's marketing materials. As long as you post something with the brand's name and some decent pictures, they're good with it. In fact, great with it!

EDIT: After posting I realized how long and rambling this post is. I am spoilering so as not to bother the tl;dr crowd.

Yup, and yup, and yup.

 

I agree (as you know) with all of this, which is why we are moving to a different format for coverage with our editorial, as per your idea.  

 

When it comes to paid content, I think that a different approach rather than a "report on awesomeness" is needed.  I think that the more interesting approaches invite actual audience participation in the exercises, and that making them into games and contests, or otherwise give incentives for the audience to play, can further enhance the usefulness of these exercises, as well as offer up a wealth of invaluable data.

 

One example of a good use of this is the Yoox wishlist discounts.  Yoox gains a wealth of information with these that they don't with just purchase information.  Yoox gets a much better idea of what products are desirable, and the price resistance of customers.  Using this information to complement purchasing information an really inform the buying team's decisions, and the price strategies for different products.

post #99440 of 109053
Quote:
Originally Posted by iamacyborg View Post

But if it were presented to you in a different way, you might, right?

Only speaking for myself here but I try to block all ads here and everywhere else and am not interested in receiving stuff in my email. I know as far as marketers are concerned this website is just a way to provide available brain time but I fucking provide "content" and want to read other people's content in a less regimented and mercantile manner. Oh and I now wear Rafdidas with nike sweatpants everyday ;(
post #99441 of 109053
Quote:
Originally Posted by Synthese View Post

The resurgence of the cult of the author is a very strange thing, and I don't know whether that's something that's spilled over into contemporary literature from the internet or vice versa. But I think it's very visible in fashion, too: developing a "voice" is the primary concern of most bloggers (and designers), and people certainly latch onto individuals with any point of view perceived as "strong." On the designer side, I've talked to a mixture. Some people seem to be very adamant that their clothes are "this, and not that," others are, as you say, very happy to let the buyer do what they want with the clothing - it doesn't seem to depend on the relative "commerciality" of the brand. The strangest thing, to me, is consumers telling other consumers what does or does not constitute an outfit in line with the designer's vision - which is not only impossible to know but epically irrelevant. What we refer to as "brand synergy" is sometimes an offshoot of this. I dislike it immensely.

I guess part of the designer directives may stem from the typical consumer being clueless and insecure, and therefore grateful for any aphorisms about dicta on how to wear the clothes, which the consumers can then use both for their own outfits and, even more satisfyingly, to berate others. But also if the designer says you have to wear something in a certain way, it might 1) generate more demand for the other things he sells, because apparently you have to have them or you'll look like a moron; 2) creates a false sense of the brand's uniqueness and the designer's ingenuity.
post #99442 of 109053
Quote:
Originally Posted by Donut View Post

I hate to admit it but Zara has some actually decent stuff this season... Could be nice for wardrobe fillers.

Of course this is just going off the pics online, most of the time the shit looks pretty bad in person and fit weird

This is an honest question because I sometimes notice myself feeling the same way...why would you hate to admit that Zara has some decent stuff? Would we rather that all the cool stuff come from brands that are inaccessible to the general public due either to its off-putting price or lack of publicity? Because that then justifies the inordinate amount of time, money, and energy we spend in acquiring jawnz? Because if you can buy cool shit at Zara for $50 then wtf are we even doing? I think these are the reasons that I have a sinking feeling every time I see some sweater retailing for $20 at a mass market retailer that I actually kind of like, but interested in hearing how others feel about it.
post #99443 of 109053

Because Zara (and H+M, etc) are generally ripoff artists, watering down last season's cool and manufacturing it as cheaply as possible for this season's rubes?

 

 

post #99444 of 109053
Quote:
Originally Posted by unbelragazzo View Post

This is an honest question because I sometimes notice myself feeling the same way...why would you hate to admit that Zara has some decent stuff? Would we rather that all the cool stuff come from brands that are inaccessible to the general public due either to its off-putting price or lack of publicity? Because that then justifies the inordinate amount of time, money, and energy we spend in acquiring jawnz? Because if you can buy cool shit at Zara for $50 then wtf are we even doing? I think these are the reasons that I have a sinking feeling every time I see some sweater retailing for $20 at a mass market retailer that I actually kind of like, but interested in hearing how others feel about it.

The trickling of designs or trends to high street brands is often what leads a lot of designers to innovate something different (and for a lot of early-adopter fashion enthusiasts to buy something different). It's a shitty thing to admit, but IMO very true. Exclusivity -- or perhaps in a more flattering term, "originality" -- is often a big part of what makes something appealing.

There are few people who don't fall into this trap, but it's true enough to describe a lot of fashion innovation, IMO.
post #99445 of 109053
Quote:
Originally Posted by shoreman1782 View Post

Because Zara (and H+M, etc) are generally ripoff artists, watering down last season's cool and manufacturing it as cheaply as possible for this season's rubes?


So it's the fact that they're copying? So the dissatisfaction comes from the same place as the philippics against "homage" watches and the like? I can understand that.
post #99446 of 109053
Quote:
Originally Posted by dieworkwear View Post

The trickling of designs or trends to high street brands is often what leads a lot of designers to innovate something different (and for a lot of early-adopter fashion enthusiasts to buy something different). It's a shitty thing to admit, but IMO very true. Exclusivity -- or perhaps in a more flattering term, "originality" -- is often a big part of what makes something appealing.

There are few people who don't fall into this trap, but it's true enough to describe a lot of fashion innovation, IMO.

You sound positively schumpeterian
post #99447 of 109053
Quote:
Originally Posted by GraphicNovelty View Post

You sound positively schumpeterian

Creative destruction is Schumpeter. This is more like emulative destruction. It's not an exogenous creation that destroys the current standard. It's the fact of a new idea become standard that destroys it, which then warrants more creation.
post #99448 of 109053

it's because it's the warm coca cola.  it no longer has that something more

 

post #99449 of 109053
Quote:
Originally Posted by GraphicNovelty View Post

You sound positively schumpeterian

Schumpeter has a vey teleological view of the world though. I'm not saying that we're marching towards something. I'm just saying people don't want so spend $1,000 on something to look like every other Joe Blow on the street.
post #99450 of 109053
All I know is that if loving H&M's drop-crotch cropped sweats is wrong, then I don't want to be right.: http://www.hm.com/us/product/27119?article=27119-B
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