Saturday, November 14, 2009

Blogs and Togs

Woe to us weaklings with political or personal blogs! In high fashion, bloggers have lately become the willing and quite capable tools of designers concerned with the hem and cut of your garments.

In fairness, I snootily sequester myself. I rarely watch TV and generally disdain trends and other ephemera. I am not strongly attune to pop culture. I don't know which celebrities have married or bedded each other, much less how the cognoscenti decree I should dress. If I wear something the rag trade favors, that's coincidence.

With amusement and delight, I turned to a full page in today's Financial Times headlined 'I'm in the front row with Anna!'. (The online version has a mundane head, Style bloggers take centre stage.) While not at all identifying with the chic, I do feel an affinity with other bloggers.

The article shows that previously noisome wanna-be fashion commentators are welcome and sought-after now. They sit with the traditional print rag press. Moreover, designers love the instantaneous live blogging of fashion shows.

Ex-fashion photog Scott Schuman has watched the rapid rise. He has a pic blog, The Sartorialist, that is fundamentally a graphic record of folk he sees and shoots in Manhattan. Before you finish snorting at the triviality of that, consider that he gets 225,000 unique visits per day there. Similarly, 13-year-old self-defined "dork that sits inside all day wearing awkward jackets and pretty hats" Tavi has a huge following and likely blog-launched lifetime in the field.

The FT quotes Schuman as saying, "In the beginning, people (in luxury) were afraid of the internet and the (idea of bloggers') comments. Now they are going after the blogs ful-steam. The whole thing with Dolce & Gabbana and (bloggers) in the front row. it's like they realized that if you can't control it, you might just have to learn to deal with it."

British Vogue's fashion editor, Harriet Quirk, expanded that by noting that blogs are "a way of reaching new audience with a minimal outlay."

Our politicians aren't quite as savvy, perhaps because their products have slower turn and less obvious margins. Our local governor, Deval Patrick, used to get netroots and bloggers. He now seems indifferent, but not hostile. Occasionally, he'll have his folk send a post to Blue Mass Group, but his staff holds most other bloggers at fishing-pole distance. The closest he came was doing a cameo over the summer at a BBQ, apparently thinking that's all Massachusetts bloggers needed to keep loving him. Harrumph.

Likewise, in the U.S. Senate race for Ted Kennedy's seat, front runner AG Martha Coakley actively hides from bloggers. Her staff won't even respond to a podcast request from Left Ahead! In contrast, the far more approachable and populist U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano has held in-person and phone blogger round tables as well as spoke with LA and other bloggers.

Risking publicly without necessarily being able to control is coming, but we're not quite a decade into our newest century. Some get it quicker than other.

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