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.