With the authenticity of fashion bloggers dividing the industry, Polly Butterfield examines the argument on both sides.

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THE DEBATE surrounding the presence of bloggers in the fashion industry has been a fierce one since the rise of the professional fashion blogger about ten years ago. Yet the exact place of career bloggers in the fashion industry is somewhat ambiguous. Does the fact that bloggers can now gain so much attention from their online presence change anything about their authenticity?

This issue can largely only be viewed through a 21st-century lens, looking at the rise of the internet as a whole which is, of course, what gave bloggers their platform in the first place. For most millennial fashion enthusiasts, their first introduction to fashion blogs could well have been Style Rookie, aka Tavi Gevinson, who was a tender 13 years old when first extended invitations to Fashion Week.

“What is on offer now is so much more than a front row seat at fashion week. Essentially, it’s a whole career.”

Young lovers of fashion watched another like-minded peer taking pictures of herself in kooky outfits. Adding some witty commentary and sitting front row at Dior, a whole new generation were inspired to start blogging, in the hopes that they too would be interviewed and spark controversial debate.

Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to strike gold with a successful blog and large following. This provokes some serious concern regarding the intentions of today’s fashion bloggers. What is on offer now is so much more than a front row seat at fashion week; it’s free clothes, beauty products, travel, parties and a celebrity status. Essentially, it’s a whole career. In this way, the content of blogs is constantly changing to adapt to new followers and product sponsorship. Many fashion insiders see this as inauthentic and not dedicated to the greater cause of the industry.

However, looking through a 21st-century-lens, it is a sorry fact that physical magazines have simply lost much of their readership, due to higher print costs contrasted with the instant and free content online. Are bloggers, therefore, just the new generation of fashion editors — the new dictators of style?

“Are bloggers, therefore, just the new generation of fashion editors — the new dictators of style, if you will?”

Often the writing is intelligent and funny (in particular Leandra Medine of The Man Repeller), and they do similar work to that of magazine staff, despite not being under the banner of a publication. A large part of the fashion industry is based on product sponsorship and advertising, so why should bloggers, just a product of their time, be told they are not worthy of a spot at the high table of the fashion industry?

The whole arena of fashion blogging has grown over the last ten years. In some ways, bloggers have become a happy digital medium between fashion journalist, ‘It’ person, and celebrity model, all of whom have been permanent fixtures at Fashion Week since the 90s. A lot of the criticism aimed at successful bloggers by industry insiders could potentially be anxiety at the prospect of seeing beautifully photographed and printed magazines become obsolete in favour of the immediacy of the internet. However, if bloggers do offer this mix of roles and authenticity, there may just be a way for bloggers and fashion journalists to work in harmony and not in competition.