This post was written by Anita Clarke, founder and EIC of the popular Toronto fashion blog, I want - I got. She's been called a Toronto Fashion Hero by Now Magazine, Woman of the Year by She Takes on the World and one of the Worthy 30 by Shinan Govani. She has spoken on the topics of fashion, marketing, PR and social media. In July 2009, she was featured in a window showcase for Holt Renfrew that was shown in stores across Canada.
The best times for fashion blogger spotting in Toronto are during the two weeks when designers show their latest collections to media and assorted VIPs. Twice a year, Canada's fashion industry gathers in Toronto for LG Fashion Week, and the unofficial fashion week that is held a week in advance.
The spring/summer 2011 collections will mark the ninth time I've done this seasonal dance, where the new looks for the warm or cool weather strut the catwalk. It's only been four years but I feel like a veteran. Fashion time is very strange; always in the future and speeding ahead.
Fashion bloggers flock to LGFW and their preening matches anything you might see on a catwalk. It is the ultimate in people watching. Twitter feeds dedicate themselves for weeks to what to wear. I receive the "what to wear" question every season from readers. This season I was part of a story on the very topic. I've lost my early zest for choosing outfits and planning the week in advance and mostly try to spend a lot of time in the VIP lounge drinking Peroni. Looking over the gathering crowd for the next show I can't help but think of how things have changed.
When I innocently created an account on Blogger in 2005 I planned on documenting my cat's reading habits. Well, the cats were proxy to my reading habits but in the online world cats are a compelling delivery system. It was a fun creative outlet, away from my day job as a QA analyst at a financial services company.
Shortly afterward I created a second account called I want - I got. I want - I got started as my online record of anything I liked on the Internet. It gradually came to focus more and more on fashion. The cats couldn’t compete, and suddenly there was only one blog. Things took off when I started writing for BlogTO, where I was a contributor for three years. That provided me with industry access that my own blog could never command at the time. Eventually the tables turned and I want - I got was getting its own invites to the big events. It became my primary focus in 2009.
Technology, social media and fashion. The impact of this merger on the industry has been significant over the last five years. It’s in part a backlash to the mainstream fashion media as consumers move online to get their information from like-minded people. Fashion bloggers of all styles and genres serve niches that mainstream publications ignore. Long ignored areas of fashion like street style, crafters, vintage hounds and local designers now had numerous voices online and their fans flocked to those sources. Local fashion scenes really benefit from the exposure bloggers provide.
Some fashion bloggers rode this rising profile from no access to the front row very quickly. The retail machine saw the influence fashion bloggers had on consumers and made moves to capitalize on it. PR and marketing firms had to learn a new game and they didn't know the rules, or even if there were any. Traditional media rules don’t apply to bloggers.
The established fashion media is influenced by profitability, advertising and politics. Independent bloggers are not bound by them. Motivation is a big difference. Blogging is rarely a profit-driven enterprise and the product or story needs to be personally compelling to the blogger. Pitches need to be more personalized and events held outside of work hours to accommodate our day jobs. This means more work for marketing and PR. However with the right bloggers it can result in more reach than traditional media outlets. Also, bloggers are gifted products more often, and don't face the same conflict of interest problems as, say, a journalist at a newspaper. This has its positives and negatives and has resulted in new disclosure rules in the US.
Revenues for the global fashion industry are worth over a trillion dollars. Capitalizing on cool helps this enormous bottom line. Bloggers are another advertising expense line on the ledger. Top bloggers are sent numerous gifts, invited to exclusive functions and are used in ad campaigns. Some even partner with retailers to produce their own lines or become designer muses. I haven't produced my own line but I've been called a Toronto Fashion hero, had a dress named after me and was featured in a window display at Holt Renfrew stores across the country. This is on top of all the media mentions I've received over years. All of these because I started a blog. It's crazy.
A scene from a Toronto Fashion Bloggers Brunch
The number of bloggers in the city is staggering. A lot has changed since the early days of the Toronto Fashion Bloggers Brunch, when the handful of fashion bloggers decided to have monthly gathering. Back in 2006 Now Magazine profiled a first wave of Toronto fashion bloggers that included myself, Tommy Ton of Jak and Jil and Danielle Meder of Final Fashion. Jak and Jil is a collection of photos by Tommy Ton that documents his fashion obsessions as he travels the world during the fashion weeks. Final Fashion is a look at Danielle's illustrations and well-written examinations of the industry and it's image.
Fast forward to 2010, Photographer Tommy Ton has become an international fashion star, Danielle Meder is a fashion illustrator who has just made the move across the pond to London, and I've had my own successes locally. We are all still blogging away and Now Magazine has profiled the new generation of Toronto fashion bloggers: Kimberly Lyn of The Souls Of My Shoes, Kevin Naulls of Dressed For Dinner and Stefania Yarhi of Textstyles. The Souls of My Shoes is for shoeaholics. Dressed For Dinner is a sorely needed menswear blog. Textstyles' is a premier Toronto street style blog. All three also cover the Toronto fashion scene and are staples at LG Fashion Week.
Anita and Dejana Bajic.
In addition to Now Magazine’s choices there are some other fashion bloggers that I see all over the Toronto scene. I often get photographed by Richard and Marc at Toronto is Fashion, a site that documents the local and international scene. Dejana Bajic of Shopsterium documents Toronto street style, celeb style and high low dressing. Gloria Chik of Urbanebloc is one of the old school crew of Toronto fashion bloggers still going strong whose site looks at fashion from a urban perspective. JJ Thompson of The Compendium Daily burst onto the screen and has become the main man for party coverage. You can't miss Julio Reyes Cocka of Fashionights with his sunglasses and dark tan. The adorable Jay Strut of Satisfashion has an insane amount of twitter followers for such a young blog. He covers the Toronto scene and personal style influences. Sidewalk Hustle's Hawley and Mr. Banning are into streetwear and music. Nelia of Style Blog documents her adventures in the Toronto fashion scene.
This is just a small sampling of fashion blogs created by Torontonians about fashion. It's been pretty much impossible to keep up with the all the newcomers. The topic of clothing and style makes it easy for people to have an opinion and talk about their favourite fashions.