This is not a post about fashion bloggers and what they wear. This is about representation and visibility.
All the images above are taken from one source: emails sent to me from my affiliate programme, rewardStyle. Even if you’re not a blogger, you’ve most likely heard of their shopping app LIKEtoKNOW.it, details of which can be found in the captions of many bloggers’ Instagram posts. The basic premise is that you sign up to LIKEtoKNOW.it, and you get details and shopping links of the items shown in posts of the Instagram accounts you follow.
What the emails from rewardStyle have been showing me for a long time (well, forever) is a very homogenised line up of bloggers and influencers. The lack of variety and diversity is alarming. Not just in age, colour, size, etc. (that’s worrying enough), but in what they’re all wearing.
All the variety and ingenuity of “street style stars” that was so prevalent in blogging 6-10 years ago seems to have vanished.
They’re still out there, but no one seems to be plugging them.
Brands don’t seem to be using them.
Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links which means if you click through and buy I may receive a small commission at no cost to you (click here for my full disclosure).
How fashion blogging worked 10 years ago
Now this is purely my opinion of course, and what I’m NOT doing here is criticising anyone for their choice of clothes/style/hair/makeup. Regular readers will know that I’m the person that started the hashtag #iwillwearwhatilike. It means that women (people!) have the choice to wear whatever they damn well like, whether that’s wearing every single trend going and changing their look regularly, or sticking to the same classic look for years, or wearing avant-garde ‘out there’ styles, or going full-on leathers at age 70.
No one has the right to tell anyone else what to wear – or what not to wear. Respect the occasion and you’re good to go.
But what was so exciting about the sudden rise of fashion bloggers (or should I say style bloggers) in about 2009 was that it showed the everyday woman of ANY age and ANY colour and ANY background and ANY size that there were women out there who looked like her. Who dressed the way SHE wanted to dress, not how the magazines told her to dress.
In other words, you didn’t HAVE to dress like – or look like – models in magazines or on the catwalk.
I was excited by books that featured up-and-coming fashion bloggers like The Nylon Book of Global Style and The Sartorialist. They were full of funky street styles that I pored over. Not necessarily outfits that I’d wear myself, but they had elements that excited me. I could get inspiration from these street style stars. They pushed me to step out of my comfort zone and be more daring.
Not many of them are still blogging today, but recently I was going through the books I bought back then and thinking about the blogs I followed at the time.
Things are verrrrry different now.
Of those still blogging, very few of those I followed/still follow have maintained their unique style. Many of them have morphed into what I call the “Influencer Look”.
Fast forward to 2019
I can’t remember the last time I read anything about street style stars. Today it’s all about “Instagram influencers”. The whole point of blogs originally was to show that we didn’t have to look the same as models in magazines and wear this season’s clothes… now it seems that all we have pushed down our throats is this standard Influencer Look.
I’m sure you know the look I mean: long, perfectly curled blonde (or bronde) hair. Lots of pastels, florals, ruffles, off the shoulder tops and distressed denim. Strappy heels and pointed ankle boots. A golden tan. Instagram makeup with huge lashes, perfectly groomed, bushy brows and nude, matte lips.
THIS BIT’S IMPORTANT THOUGH: What I want to make perfectly clear is that I do NOT dislike this look. I think these girls look incredible. Believe me, if that look suited me/my personality I’m almost certain I’d be donning the ruffles and strappy sandals as well.
What I find so disheartening is that nine times out of ten, that’s ALL we see in campaigns featuring influencers: The Influencer Look. Influencers are starting to look as homogenous as models in magazines.
Isn’t that what we were so glad to see the end of when fashion blogging became a thing?!
This was what was presented to me as rewardStyle’s LIKEtoKNOW.it picks in one email to me (i.e. this was ALL the influencers featured):
See what I mean? Long, blonde, perfectly curled hair: check. Ruffles: check. Strappy sandals: check.
Where are the street style stars…? Where are the pink pixie cuts? The customised leathers? The beautiful hijabs? The tartan Doc Marten boots? The vintage queens?
Why are we not seeing all the women who present us with something that’s NOT cookie cutter, that’s NOT “this season”, that’s NOT what all the other brands are showing us?
That’s not to say they’re not out there – they are. I hope that my featured blogger series highlights some of the bloggers who can offer us something other than the Influencer Look (I have lots more posts in that series in the pipeline). Last year I went to an exclusive blogger event, and of the 20-odd girls there only three of us were not 20-something, white and slim – and sporting the Influencer Look from head to toe. I was shocked at just how little effort the brand had made to invite a diverse range of women.
Though now, looking back, I can only think it was on purpose to have mostly that specific fashion tribe representing their brand…?
What’s basically happened is that we’ve come full circle, back to one type of “look” being promoted and pushed the whole time like it was in magazines.
It’s such a shame that individuality isn’t celebrated as much anymore. Or rather I should say that brands, PRs and the media don’t celebrate individuality anymore. And although it seems like it, I’m not just picking on rewardStyle here; many brand campaigns feature a mass of what seems like cloned influencers (like my example mentioned above).
Because I know that we want more variety, more diversity. We’re open to it. Why is it that brands are so afraid to do something different?
Let’s get back to using street style stars”, I say… what do YOU think?
WHICH BRANDS HAVE YOU NOTICED USE A DIVERSE RANGE OF INFLUENCERS? TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS!
P.S. As a lovely antidote to this, how about this amazing scarf from Karen Mabon – now THAT’S what I’m talking about!! No cookie cutter influencers here…
P.P.S. The UK Blog Awards is tonight – it premieres on YouTube very soon at 6:30pm UK time! Watch it live-streamed below (I was the UKBA19 fashion judge and we have two 40+ finalists)!