The crowds bustling around Manhattan murmur with a sense of urgency on the eve of New York Fashion Week, where the majority of events are held at Lincoln Center on the Upper West Side. But downtown, at MILK studios in the Meatpacking District, another type of crowd assembled. There, aspiring fashion bloggers gathered for the semiannual Independent Fashion Bloggers Conference, which consisted largely of stylists, journalists, and photographers, all trying to form an online presence. The event, which ran all day Wednesday, included panels with prominent bloggers and Internet personalities such as DKNY PR Girl and Cupcakes and Cashmere, who advised the attentive crowd about the increasingly viable business of blogging.
And the crowd at IFB was a colorful one: there were silk patterned pants, faux fur jackets, and leather skirts. One girl strutted past flaunting a captain’s cap plastering massive waves of black hair, with a feminized Army uniform cinched at the waist and ending at her upper thighs. Another girl, pale and thin with a slight smile, had affixed an upside-down black cross to her forehead. Each is prepared to present her business card at the slightest prodding, eager to promote her brand.
The solidification of one’s brand, in fact, is what much of the discussion boiled down to, as panelists preached persistence, originality, and consistency when developing a blog. No topic is too narrow; Macala Wright, a fashion consultant and founder of FashionablyMarketingMe.com, describes how companies seeking publicity will approach her looking for extremely specific blogger personalities. “Don’t be afraid,” she promised. “Be niche, and you will find an audience that gravitates towards you.”
The dynamic of the conference can be likened to a meritocracy, as novices swarm around the experienced, ardent on absorbing advice, and, of course, examining their outfits. Nonetheless, even celebrity bloggers claim humility. The Filipino fashion blogger BryanBoy (the closest thing to a superstar in the insular world of fashion bloggers) made a brief appearance, sporting his signature dark glasses. However, he insisted to The Daily Beast that he has yet to “make it,” and that “every day is a challenge” to create new content. Where does his inspiration come from? His own lifestyle; he never blogs to live, but rather lives to blog. He divulges, “It’s about enjoying your life” and subsequently “showing your environment to others who can’t travel.” When asked if he sees other bloggers as competition, he says, “Not at all, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. Everyone has a different point of view.”
But it’s hard not to wonder: in a room of more than 300 wannabes (most of whom paid $60 for a ticket) is there hope for them all to become famous fashion bloggers? There are no certain answers, as the industry is still a fledgling one, and even those at the top function on a trial-and-error basis. I asked one younger blogger, Rory, about her future goals. She shyly admitted, “I guess I’m a newer blogger,” and was not quite sure. In a moment, though, her hand emerged from her purse with a business card, neat and white, picturing a delicate pair of legs superimposed below the name Coulter Curated. She smiled, and chirped, “Twitter works best to increase my readership, it’s gotten higher since I’ve started using it,” and waltzed away.