So, yesterday Women's Wear Daily profiled several top fashion bloggers—Bryanboy, Fashion Toast, Style Bubble, The Glamourai, and The Man Repeller—and while the article was probably meant to show how influential these bloggers are (most state monthly page views between 1.5 and 4 million) and give some background color on each, it's spawned several interesting discussions on the subject. Fashionista did some follow-up reporting with most of the subjects, questioning how the bloggers disclose what they received gratis and/or how they are paid for their coverage. (One blogger sends copy to partners for approval, a journalistic no-no, but then again, I'd hardly call personal style bloggers journalists.) Jezebel's Jenna Sauers does an even deeper dive, questioning the validity of the traffic stats in WWD's article and wondering where on the objectivity scale these bloggers fall.
While my traffic is nowhere near that of the bloggers above (inflated numbers or no), and while I don't have top designers plying me with free clothes, I do receive my share of swag, however I always disclose when I'm writing about something I received for free, and like several of the bloggers in Fashionista's article, I don't write about things I don't want to cover. (That means, yes, I have a bunch of unused swag sitting around. Look for a giveaway soon.) That said, my blog is a business, albeit one that, fiscally speaking, pretty much exists to support my shoe habit. And like all businesses, it's about relationships—in my case, with fashion houses, stores, PR reps. (Having worked in magazines for many years, I can tell you, there is definitely not a strict separation of church and state there either.) Unlike many fashion bloggers, I have a journalism degree, and while I definitely don't hold myself to the strict objective code that, say, newspaper reporters adhere to, I don't think that necessarily makes me untrustworthy. Then again, I don't think you're coming here to read an unbiased take fashion—I think (at least I hope) you're here because you like my taste and what I have to say. Fashion bloggers may not be the New York Times, but thinking of us as the op-ed pages may not be a stretch.