April 23, 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”, “How to Give Your Man an A+ Massage”, “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 visited fashion blogs, we are becoming more self-absorbed, more materialistic and 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?

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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 (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: its 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.

My sentiment reminds me of a piece that Rachel Seville 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 be able to formulate this from the content of the mainstream fashion blogs, 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 synchronized fashion, 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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2 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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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