Saturday, March 27, 2010

it washed over me, this ecstasy, this found connection, and a feeling that I was in the right place at the perfect time.

This post could also be titled ‘How Bloggers Are Taking Over The World.’
When I was living in Toronto last year, the highest of the high department stores in Canada, Holt Renfrew, got on the style blog bandwagon. They hung photographs taken by The Sartorialist in their mensware department, and filled their glass street-front windows with collaged homages to their ‘favourite’ bloggers. Or, as I cynically think, bloggers whose aesthetic tie in nicely with that of Holts. As a result, they unveiled window displays in honour of The Sartorialist, Garance Dore, BryanBoy, I Want I Got, jak&jil and Sea of Shoes as well two windows featuring a tangle of computers, magazines, bags and shoes meant to represent the collision of retail, goods, image, technology and the fashion industry.

I walked out and over with my camera one cool, lush night and photographed everything. From multiple angles. For quite a while. As the cars sidled past on Bloor St and walkers-by stared at me (but in a polite way, it was Canada after all!)

Cardboard faced Scott Schumans showing the men of TO how to dress. Exclusively in varying shades of grey, apparently.

This look could be called ‘contemplative (with knitted pigeon)’.

A display of a Parisienne and what could be more chic, more French than… baguettes?

I find the fact that the Bryan Boy mannequin is placed in a Holts bag ironically symbolic. Never one to shy away from a creative collaboration with brands, BB was the perfect choice. After all, it was he who Marc Jacobs plucked from obscurity to be the namesake for the 'BB' bag on the strength of a fan video he made about the label.

A sea of SOS’s Jane Alridges! You can see it better if you zoom in on the photograph but the ’sand’ was glittery sandals, starfish and scattered shoes. This was my favourite display.

The quintessential ‘Jane.’ Right down to the pose and the smile.

There’s a chapter in all of this about the commercialisation of bloggers’ identities and blogs themselves (and it goes well beyond being realised in a window display.) Thoughts are swirling half-formed in my mind about the ethics of making poster children of under-18 bloggers (a topic canvassed on Footpath Zeitgeist in relation to Tavi), and the way that the commercially driven fashion world is mining another subculture for inspiration and street cred. This is what fashion has done for such a long time, though, and it goes both ways- Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren commercialised punk, yes, but I think there’s a case in that they also drove it further and to a bigger audience.

And surely having your blog represented visually in an enormous window display in a prestigious store on Toronto’s luxury strip has got to do good things to your site traffic, which could then drive up the price premiums for advertising on your blog? And so it goes. But what about the grassroots aspect of blogging? Is some sense of authenticity and community sacrificed through these high-profile, lucrative collaborations or is it just part of the game now? Big questions I don’t have answers for. . . yet.


  1. It's interesting that Jane Aldridge disabled comments on her blog- which shows how uninterested in the community aspect of blogging she really is. She and her blog are products, first and foremost. She has that privilege, now that she had "made it", so to speak. However I get the impression that blogging communities are critical of bloggers that "sell-out" in this way? There's an inaccessibility about these "high profile bloggers", and the feelings of reciprocity and intimacy that pervade blogging communities are lost when the blogger's celebrity goes beyond the blog itself. Of the blogs featured in these windows that I am familiar with- Garance maybe is an exception. Due perhaps, to her often self-deprecating and personal writing style. She might be front row at Chloe, collaborating with industry insiders and rubbing shoulders with the who's who of the fashion world, but she writes like she's your best friend and perhaps that makes a difference?

  2. For sure! There's a lot of silence surrounding Jane, as opposed to Tavi who's name-dropped all over the blogosphere and the bloglink that everyone has. Interestingly, Jane still occassionally writes with a style that invites the reader in- mentioning the emails she's getting or that her facebook friends are at capacity which is why she can't add any more. But I sometimes get the feeling reading her blog that she's positioning her life as aspirational rather than just what she lives. Hardly any mention of friends or school- just the glamorous assignments she's doing (bal du crillon anyone? or a visit to Prada shoe HQ?) and the places she's going. . . I need to ponder this more. I reckon Garance's style influences our feeling as readers towards her, most definitely. She even invites us in on details of her bikini waxes and her holidays with Scott- nothing in inaccessible for her to share, which is perhaps why her blog makes for such compulsive reading? What other blogs do you read, Bel?