When Fashion Bloggers Hit Big … Are They Still The Same Bloggers?

In case you haven’t noticed, fashion blogging has reached new heights of celebrity and popularity. What started out as a wholly indie movement—girls discussing fashion on their Live Journals, or posting pics through a Blogger account to share with friends—has now turned into a veritable “field.” To begin a fashion blog nowadays often isn’t just about personal expression, but also about assuming a higher editorial knowledge of style and the industry.

And now, it’s also about freebies (and fame). At least for those who become the popular kids on the web. When fashion bloggers get big, and start receiving incentives, free clothes, invites to parties or fashion shows, and even their very own magazine covers, are they still the same bloggers? This is what BlackBook asked in a recent article, bringing up an issue that’s only bound to grow in the coming years. “While more access and ads on their pages doesn’t necessarily always translate to bloggers not keeping it real with readers, it does raise relevant questions about the unbiased nature of the content in a medium celebrated for its autonomous opinions.”

So, is there any bit of indie media left in the model of the fashion blog if these writers have become monkeys of marketing strategies? The debate is mixed.

The issue at large is about blogs defaulting to favorable reviews because they’re receiving swag from clothing companies or designers. This, Keiko Groves of the blog Keiko Lynn, tells BlackBook, is giving bloggers what they want: “I imagine most fashion bloggers blog about fashion because they love it. So how is it selling out to accept an invitation into a world you once thought was completely impenetrable?”

While most involved in the fashion blog network would agree that their collaboration with company offers doesn’t sway their judgment—they’re still posting about things they like from that company anyhow. Of course, these maneuvers are slightly deceptive and questions the writer’s ethical vision.

In just a few days this will all change when the FTC declares that after December 1, all bloggers must disclose any freebies or perks, making clear what is an endorsement and what isn’t. The question is, will anyone actually do this? And does anyone really care? [BlackBookMag.com]