August 30, 2014

Reading Fashion Blogs Is Probably Making You Dumber

Are fashion blogs really just making us worse human beings? A quick glance at some recent headlines (“What You Need Right Now: 11 Black Tie Jumpsuits”, “Kim Kardashian: The Style Icon We Never Knew We Wanted”, “Kate Middleton Got a New Pair of Shoes”, “In Defense of Ripped Jeans”, “Purple Is The Best Lip Color Of All Time,” etc.), suggests that not only are we not getting any smarter by reading some of the most heavily visited fashion blogs, we are becoming more self-absorbed, more materialistic and all-around shallower than we already are. But the good news: We can’t take all the blame. After all, we are just the readers. What about the people who are actually writing these mind-numbingly inconsequential articles?


It may seem like I’m being excessively harsh and maybe I am, but what do we gain from articles that are: 1) Largely written without any greater sense of context, actual commentary, or utility (other than how you can “Look Hot After Work Without Going Home and Changing”), 2) Sponsored aka just glorified press releases, and/or 3) All about truly superficial topics posing as “news” (save for “How Orange Lipstick Can Lift Your Mood” pieces because that arguably has psychological benefits … maybe)? Before you label me a total downer, don’t you ever long for substance?

Now, I get it. I do. These are fashion blogs and not the Economist, but guess what: It is 2014, and fashion is increasingly shedding its stigma as an industry full of over-dressed, under-educated girls. There are many, many exceptions to this rule (Hey, Áslaug Magnúsdóttir, Angela Ahrendts, Vanessa Friedman, Christina Binkley, Maureen Chiquet, Caroline Issa, Sara Ziff, etc.). Fashion and brainpower shouldn’t be mutually exclusive, and yet, it seems in the blogosphere, they largely are.

This sentiment reminds me of a piece that Rachel Seville (hey, Rachel!) penned for menswear site, Four Pins, a couple of years ago, in which she wrote: “When I get on the internet as an intelligent woman who loves fashion, there isn’t much for me to do.” Other worthwhile excerpts include: Sites “lack  depth, because these sites just don’t seem to be giving us what we want,” They “feel and look progressive on the face of it, [but] they still seem tied to the adage that the only things women want are to have better sex and a thinner body (or at least better nail art)”, “Sites just seem too willing to meet everyone at a low common denominator, rather than entertain and steer them towards something more interesting, more intelligent”, “It’s not enough to just say, ‘It’s a trend!!!’ or, ‘but it’s in a bunch of stores!!!!’ or, perhaps worse, ‘but these are all photos of celebrities!!!!’” … You get where I am going with this.

Seville touches on something important. You can be smart AND be interested in fashion. You wouldn’t necessarily be able to formulate this from the content of the mainstream fashion blogs (which seem to cater to die-hard Kim K fans, fast fashion shoppers and individuals who equate entertainment news with substantive news), but it is true. At the end of the day, fashion is more than just clothing. Fashion is a business and a massive one, both in terms of reach and in terms of revenue. It is New York’s second biggest industry after finance. In case that’s not enough, fashion is also a burgeoning field in law (even though the practice of law in connection with the fashion industry has existed for quite awhile now, its “Fashion Law” title is relatively new). Similarly, fashion design, in itself, is a complex and thought-provoking endeavor. Maybe not for all (think: celebrity clothing lines and fast fashion retailers), but for quite a few (think: legitimate designers), it is a beautiful process that includes historical references, delicate handiwork, cuts and construction that are the result of training and talent, and the list of ways in which fashion is a worthwhile, legitimate endeavor goes on. It seems, however, that we have synonymized fashion with fast fashion, celebrity and “new age journalism” aka blogging, when they should arguably be distinct.

It appears that the vast majority of people out there want to read about the Kardashians’ latest family drama or Justin Beiber’s biggest fashion mistakes (which doesn’t count as an article with #context just because the singer was recently arrested) or “how to wear leather pants without looking like a car seat” (that is actually the title of a recent article). However, there is hope. A few sites have arisen over the past several years that offer readers a look at fashion but from an informed and intelligent perspective, and hopefully there will be more. Until then, “Miley Cyrus Skipped The Grammys To Play Guitar Hero.”

*This article was initially publish on January 29, 2014

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  1. Posted August 18, 2014 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    There are so many dumb blogs because readers prefer them. I bring 20 years of fashion industry experience behind what I write on my fashion blog. The difference is my take on a denim brand’s research and science behind the fit of a pair of jeans will never have the popularity of a girl taking a selfie to show how nice the jeans make her ass look.
    I can write about the designer’s inspiration and their personal journey to create their brand, but more people choose to follow the girl who talks about how much she loves the freebies she wants from the designer.

  2. Posted August 17, 2014 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    I very much enjoyed your article. As a fashion blogger, I do agree that there is a lack of what I call “smart” fashion. Unfortunately, the internet is flooded with blogs that lack substance. I applaud you for bringing attention to the matter. I struggle to gain a larger readership because of my unwillingness to feature whatever happens to be trending at the moment. The basis of my blog is based on love and respect for the true art of Fashion and the way it binds us together. I am committed to maintaining the integrity of my blog. I can only hope that one day smart fashion blogs with substance will get their due recognition.

  3. Posted May 30, 2014 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again and I’ll probably never stop saying it: YOU ARE BLOODY BRILLIANT. You’re journalistic style is completely your own; so informed, intelligent and damn cool. Unfortunately, I would be officially named a fashion ‘blogger’, although I call myself a writer, and constantly find myself insulted by the name because people expect me to have a blog consisting of outfit posts and gossiping about ‘Kimye’.

    It’s a shame there are less and less fashion blogs writing about issues in the industry or celebrating the brilliance of the artists that are so central to it.

  4. Posted January 30, 2014 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    You know what? You CAN be interested in “dumb” things; you can want to read about 11 black tie jumpsuits and still be interested in the economy or the environments or politics or hell, all three.

    You don’t always have to be doing something intellectual to be considered so.

    You don’t only have to read blogs on fashion or lifestyle or beauty that discuss things in a more intellectual way alongside “more important issues,” you can just look at a simple blog discussing simple things. It doesn’t make you an idiot for doing so. There is a time and a place for everything.

  5. Posted January 29, 2014 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    this is exactly why i read the fashion law! your content takes care of my need for fashion news while also tackling much deeper topics. i tend to only read fashion blogs that include interviews, discuss sustainability, share processes and tell stories … so currently, not that many. i do hope my own blog joins those ranks someday soon, i’m working very hard towards that end.

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] few days after The Fashion Law posted an article about the onslaught of dumbed-down fashion writing via blogs, fashion followers collectively […]

  2. By 5 Things To Know This AM | AMZ1 on January 30, 2014 at 10:07 am

    […] You might want to cut down on your consumption of style blogs, though. (The Fashion Law) […]

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