Jane Aldridge in a Sea of Controversy
By: Taylor Davies

Sea of Shoes
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As you may have read last week, there was a flurry of controversy over a recent profile of Jane Aldridge, the blogger behind Sea of Shoes, in a publication called Texas Monthly. In it, the reporter rather candidly describes days spent with Aldridge (he spent 4 weeks with her), as well as the some of the back-story of how she came to be one of the most well-known style bloggers in the space. (She also appeared in a televised interview with the author, Jason Sheeler.) New York Magazine‘s The Cut then cut-and-pasted their highlights from the profile into a post, with their trademark snark and sarcasm. That was followed by a rebuttal from Jane on her blog, arguing much of what was said came out of context. Then it was yet another follow up from The Cut, that includes a quote from Texas Monthly defending their reporter and the facts in their story. Jezebel got in on the action, too. As did ology.com. And Fashionista. All this in the span of about two days.

So, what was everyone so up-in-arms about? Jane has lived a rather privileged life, especially since her blog took off, and she’s received vicious, negative feedback, nasty comments, and even a stalker or two as a result. Too many shoes! Too much designer stuff! She’s a brat! She’s spoiled! In many people’s eyes, this profile only gave tangible evidence of what everyone thought of her already. When you start throwing around figures like $70,000 in the world of blogging, people are bound to judge.

 

As supporters of bloggers-as-businesses, we at IFB were rather torn about how to view all of this. Clearly, it takes money to produce the kind of content that keeps millions of people clicking on Sea of Shoes — including supplying her closet with designer and vintage pieces (her signature mix). It also takes money to run a business (her mom and dad function as her manager and lawyer), which her blog has become. Between public event appearances, designer collaborations and sponsored posts, she’s making money – the kind of money that aspiring entrepreneurial fashion bloggers dream of! (as much as $20,000 per, anyone?)

 

From all this backlash, I find it hard to tell if people are criticizing her family’s spending, her lifestyle or the elements of her personality that are illustrated in the Texas Monthly profile. Is she childish? Does she have a ‘mean girl’ side? Is she too close to her mother? Is she just a 20-year-old, acting like a 20-year-old?

 

Where do you stand? IFB wants to open up a dialog about all this drama over a member of the fashion blogging community. Here’s some of the chatter on Twitter so far:

 

@DressCourage: Read it, and couldn’t help but feel it was slanted by a reporter who doesn’t understand the first thing about fashion blogging.

@MsFemminista: Interesting take! I’ve never read her blog, to be honest, but I think a blog can be whatever you want it to be. If hers is a showcase for shiny, sparkly expensive things, then there’s certainly a market out there for that!

@FashionableLena: I didn’t think it was that bad. The NY Mag was. But neither will stop me from reading her blog.

@a_fashion_ado: I haven’t ever heard good things about her, but I can’t form an opinion until I’ve met her. hopefully she’s not how they make it seem.

@chicstripes: read it & a few others- the actual piece came off harsh. Thoughts on asking for permission to read prior to an article going to print?

@BagSnob I’ve known Jane for years. Shes thoughtful & intelligent & has worked hard for her success. She doesn’t deserve this media bashing.

 

Leave a comment below, or join the conversation by tweeting at us (@_IFB). To ensure a mature conversation, please read all of the linked articles above. The more you read, the more backing your thoughts and opinions will have!

 

 [Image Credit: Texas Monthly]

 

Comments

  1. I saw/read all the controversy last week. I do think she leads a privileged life, and at times on her blog, seems to be totally cut off from the reality that most of us live. Forget those who struggle.

    But there seems to be a viciousness around Jane that I don’t understand. I imagine a bit of it is jealousy. With this much publicity there will be a backlash, which she has tried to respond to, but even that came across as a bit cut off, and a little spoilt.

    xoxo
    http://www.natashafatah.blogspot.com

  2. Vicki says:

    I cannot comment properly until i have read more into this issue. However, my inital opinion is that people can be rather quick to judge and speak badly of those who are privaledged. That being said, there should be an air of grace and modesty if someone happens to be well off and I can´t blame the comments if she has been boasting or acting like a spoiled kid. I´m off to read more! Thanks for the post! xx

  3. Amy says:

    I think Jane and her mom should really think about hiring a PR firm, as they seemed to have been blindsided about how the Texas Monthly article would be perceived. And Jane appearing on a news show with the author did her no favors when she later tried to assert the numbers were exaggerated and quotes were out of context (and incorrectly accused NY Mag of the wrongdoing). A PR rep would’ve help them craft their image prior to the interview and handle the aftermath.

  4. Jane is a very successful, and incredibly beautiful, girl. Interviews come and go and what is stunningly apparent (to me at least) is an inept, unprofessional quasi-journalist who chose to edit an interview and intersperse a whole ton of himself into the angry denials. Jane was used.

    In my opinion, the interviewer gave his own credibility away when he inanely commented that he “still liked Jane” after she and her family called him on what is likely a made-up version of the truth.

    The veracity and intentions of interviewers are not all at a high level. I was quoted in a People interview long ago as talking about “gals.” I have never used that word in my life and still cringe at the inflections.

    On the other hand, yay for a tad of controversy and when there is the substance of a gorgeous intelligent blogger from a very good family, yay for the ratings upsurge.

    The moral of the story is to know that your innocent words can be wrenched this way and that and unless you insist upon approval for facts, you are at the mercy of a press as likely to be screeching for controversy as a true journalist.

    Love Jane and bloggers, I hope, unite against the assault of a headline-grabbing swarm quasi-journalist.

  5. Jesi H says:

    I have to say that I am not overly familiar with Jane or her blog, but at face value, this sounds like a classic case of twisting words to make a good story. Journalists are all about ruffling feathers, that’s what gets attention and makes a great story. I have seen a lot of this revolving around a charity organization as well. Lots of people out to tear each other down. If she is well off, it can give her a leg up on other bloggers in order to showcase more pieces in her writing, but who would turn that down? I don’t think it’s fair to judge someone over financial status. That being said, no one should feel or act superior due to their monetary privileges. Hopefully this all blows over and she can show a humble and appreciative side to her audience.

    • I think it’s really unfair to say that “journalists are all about ruffling feathers, that’s what gets attention and makes a great story.”

      journalists are about getting THE story, not making up their own. are they simply supposed to un-report a story just because it might take a slightly less pleasant turn?

      Honestly, no one but them can really know what happened, but I think it’s unlikely that a publication with a reputation to protect would print obvious lies about a fairly public figure. They could get sued. It’s not a simple matter. I don’t really have feelings about Jane either way, but I believe TM because they have much more to lose if they are lying.

  6. If people want to read it and like her, they can continue doing so. Anyone who’s ever seen her blog can clearly see this girl comes from money, and if they are into emulating that, or have the money to do so, they can continue reading. I personally find it more inspiring to see what outfit someone can create from much less.

    That said, I don’t think its right to attack someone because they have money to spend on things most of us couldn’t dream of owning. She’s a lucky girl, and i agree with Amy, she should definitely invest in a PR firm!!

  7. I personally think that Jane has done herself no favours. To me, it’s fairly obvious that she only began going on the defense when the negative reactions began. But Sheeler is not responsible for that. He wrote a great profile, and is standing by his work and the work of his publication. (as he should). considering that they appeared on television together to discuss the article, she clearly did not have a problem with it beforehand.

    I can’t make any judgements as to her character because I don’t know her, but which is more likely?: that Texas Monthly has some ill-conceived vendetta against the Aldridges, or that Jane really is an entitled mean-girl, and doesn’t realize it because she refuses to leave her bubble?

    Either way, it doesn’t impact me. I stopped reading her 2 years ago. She has never seemed very interested in her audience at all, and still seems pretty detached from the give and take relationship bloggers usually try to foster. She doesn’t even allow comments for goodness sake. What’s the point of posting your life online if you don’t want to discuss it?

  8. lola999 says:

    The journalist was professional and competent. He warned her about interviews. She didn’t take it well or decided to spin it and/or realized any publicity is good publicity. Well done. She and her advisors seem very media savvy.

  9. CandyForToes says:

    I posted a blog about this, the whole thing is rather strange but there is a lesson everyone can extract: http://candyfortoes.com/2012/04/09/the-sea-of-shoes-controversy-my-take/

  10. I’ve been a reader of her blog – So Jane is a talented girl with shoes in bounty. So? Though she may come from a wealthy family, I’m sure she has worked hard to reach this far & thats an achievement for a 20 year old! She may not have needed to struggle & save up to buy a new pair but since shes so fortunate, I think shes doing a great job with it !

  11. I read the article and saw the clip. I think that she is her brand and that is designer/vintage/glamorous/raw…clearly she doesn’t like the media and would rather stay behind the camera and computer. We all know the media construes information to get more publicity and that is exactly what they did. Although it would help if she wasn’t that way, whether or not she is the way they portrayed her is her business. She is successful and does what she does better than most. She should be applauded.

  12. debi c says:

    i honestly don’t think holding her privileged background against her is fair.i personally don’t follow her blog because i got bored a long while ago.think of elitism in any other field..blogging can be a full fledged money churner and she’s got resources to pull in more than an average joe…i feel i could do a lot better if i had more resources and if someone holds that against me it’s not fair.but then again if i complain about that attention it’s not fair either.

  13. Laura says:

    Jason Sheeler’s blog post addressing all the insanity makes it plain that he meant no ill-will toward his subject and (initially) perceived none from her, and after watching the news footage I think that the Texas Monthly piece was probably done in good faith, and things only began to come apart in the aftermath of the story stretching across other venues on the internet–always a risk in a story such as this, where the author and subject spend so much time together and so much is said in conversation that may or may not translate well to third party readers (especially those to whom Jane/Sea of Shoes is familiar). This sense of familiarity also seems to be a key factor in the controversy, which appears to exist primarily among other denizens of the internet/fashion blogosphere, and to whom I don’t think the original article was directed. As one who is quite familiar with Texas Monthly, I read Sheeler’s article as more of a regional piece, meant to highlight the activities of a young, successful Texan in an untraditional arena to other Texans (who are, after all, the magazine’s primary subscribers). Whatever one’s own feelings about Jane’s blog (which really is the only thing anyone who hasn’t met her is equipped to judge, and which she & Sheeler admit in the article is a world somewhat detached from reality), it seems relevant for those of us in this forum (and others like it across the internet) to keep in mind that we too occupy a space which is alien to many others, and as such we are inclined to read Sheeler’s piece from a perspective
    shaped as much by our own understandings/experiences of blogging and fashion as by the article itself. I doubt many of us would pass up an opportunity for exposure akin to such a piece, nor would we deny the importance of start-up capital for these endeavors (or decline the offer of it); it is unfortunate that what could have been such a positive promotion of fashion blogging as a viable enterprise has become mired in such menial squabbles.

    Jason Sheeler’s response on Texas Monthly’s blog:
    http://tmdailypost.com/article/media/i-really-do-jane-aldridge

  14. Sabina says:

    I didn’t read the whole article since I didn’t feel like signing up for membership to the site, but I did want to respond to @chicstripes’ comment.
    Do NOT ask to see an article beforehand. I’ve been a journalist for the past 10 years so I can tell you that that is not ever going to happen, regardless of the writer, editor or publication. It’s just not going to happen. By asking, you’re insulting the writer (by insinuating it’s their job to please you by writing advertorial for you) and you’re outing yourself as someone who has no idea what they’re doing when reaching out for that free publicity. Saying yes to the press means giving up an element of control–that is just the way it is. If you’re nervous about how an article will come out or how you’ll look (and when doing interviews who isn’t?), be honest about what exactly you’re concerned about. Ask about the angle of the piece, and if certain things you say are meant to be off the record, SAY SO ahead of time. Reporters respect honesty and if you are honest, they’ll generally work with you to make you sound your best. The common problem is that people don’t think to do this and then they say things that they regret. Pretending to have been misquoted sometimes comes next but that never helps anything.

    • Alexandra says:

      Sabina, you are right. I worked as a journalist throughout the nineties and profiled many interesting and/or controversial people and never did I allow any of them to vet my stories before they were filed—my editors would’ve killed the stories if I had. Also, Sheeler warned Aldridge that what has happened could happen, she willingly opened her doors to him. She has no cause for complaint.

  15. Bella Q says:

    I don’t read her blog, but I think the girl has got style. That money can’t buy, and she’s got money, so she can buy some pretty great stuff. Lots of it.

    I think we like to peek at the lifestyles of the rich and fabulous, then in a torque or jealousy talk trash about them. I suspect this is what happens to poor Jane. A privileged life has privileges but comes with a price. She may be out of touch at times with the tide pool outside her closet, but she sure has a great shoe collection.

  16. Wowzers. Tempest in a teapot, indeed. I stopped reading Sea of Shoes a while back for the simple reason that I prefer blogs that are more down-to-earth and relatable for my income; if I want to see what super-rich people are wearing, I can read Vogue. Her photos are gorgeous, and good for her and her family for making what was clearly a wise investment.

    There is a huge market for what she does, and there are lots of people in her tax bracket who I assume also enjoy relatability in their blog-reading. They probably also shudder at the thought of Nordstrom Rack, and don’t want to bother seeing outfits comprised solely of H&M and Forever 21. That’s the beauty part about fashion blogging–there’s something for everyone. If I like it, I keep reading, if I don’t, I don’t.

  17. Jade says:

    I think this is another case of “tall poppy syndrome”, not wanting people to be more successful and if they are, then they are seen as being a snob/brat/whatever. And it’s pretty rude how the reporter decided they were going to take an offensive angle instead of just reporting on her

  18. Luxus says:

    I just wish I had her shoes…I don’t know what the fuss is about. I think she’s clearly smart, as evident by her success, and I think she ought to be left alone to do her thing. It’s typical…people get angry when other people get their foot in the door and experience even a modicum of success. I like her. I can’t afford the shoes, but I think she’s interesting, stylish, and clever.

  19. Emmy says:

    I would just like to say that I’ve never read more eloquent comments on the site than the ones posted here. Cate Young and Laura have stated exactly what I was thinking.

  20. Karalyn says:

    I’m sure she is getting a lot of hits out of this. Wasn’t that the goal in the first place?

  21. Catherine says:

    We all have different incomes, responsibilities, jobs, pants sizes and perspectives. None are better than others; all should be encouraged and respected. That said, I relate more to bloggers whose outfits are in my budget, simply because I can’t afford designer items and like to see outfits made of more affordable pieces. Does that mean I hold it against bloggers like Jane who can? No way. I simply choose to read blogs I relate to. There’s room for all of us in the fashion blogging world.

  22. Stephanie says:

    I don’t understand why everyone is blaming NY Mag for this? They took direct quotes from the article that was written. I’ve read her blog and I think she seems nice, but she came off like a complete brat in that article whether you like her or not. Even as a fellow blogger, I would take Texas Monthly’s word over hers.

  23. Poor Jane… The nature of journalism is to find (or create) a loud story. Unfortunately, people tend to like controversy so journalists feed them what they want to. Whether it is true or made up. I feel sad that they put all this dirt all over Jane and her blog.

    They had no right to judge. We blog because we want to express ourselves and if she succeeded – its only because she put a lot into it. She works hard. NY Magazine had no right to judge her.

    On another side, that would be additional publicity for Jane :) as they say bad PR is the best PR.

  24. Poor Jane!! (I can’t get into the Texas Monthly original article – I’d have to sign up & I’m rushing as I’m typing this).

    I remember following Jane Aldridge – AND her mum’s blog (is she still doing one?) avidly, in my early blog days, when I was more steeped in the fashion blogging community. That’s when Jane was still taking comments. There was a really vicious period back then – I guess this was Spring 2009 – and her mom emailed me privately to thank me. Perhaps I’m from too spoiled a background, too – or maybe it’s just not in my nature to be jealous of anyone who is happy and successful simply because they are happy and successful – but I never got it about why people were so mean about her.

    And then time went by, and it just occurred to me that I don’t really spend time on fashion blogs. But this caught my eye, and I’ve just been looking around on the NY Mag site, and the comments, and MAN OH MAN.. it’s making me feel like what I went thru with a few bitchy bloggers, and the ripple effect, is nothing compared to this. I tip my hat to Jane and her family for staying so grounded. And thank you, IFB, for bringing this to our attention and reminding me – in comparison – how much I have to be grateful for.

    Sometimes, with regards the Tall Poppy Syndrome, it’s a relief to realise you’re just another teeny tiny poppy.

  25. i’ve never really been a huge fan of her blog simply because i can’t afford a single item of clothing or shoes that have ever been featured on her blog. although i DO have a belt that i bought from her mothers vintage shop (back before the prices were ridiculously high). i think she is a gorgeous girl and her pictures are beautiful. that being said…her attitude that she is above the fashion industry and is just “too cool for school” (pardon the pun) is quite annoying and comes off as very snobby. she may not watch tv but as she said in her tv interview, she spends all of her time online. so i’m sure she is following fashion trends in the bubble she has created for herself. i wasn’t shocked or offended by anything in any of these articles until i read the nordstrom rack comment. i’m actually wearing jeans in my post today that i found at nordstrom rack. =)

    jenn
    the stylish housewife

  26. As a blogger, I think the publicity is fabulous and wouldn’t mind some of it myself. Anyone can always put a spin on something to make someone they maybe a little jealous of look less than desirable! As bloggers….we all work hard and would love an ounce of recognition! Good for Jane!

  27. Clarisse says:

    Well, she became famous with her blog and when a lot of people likes you, you have to accept that there’s also a lot of people who hate you, whatever is the reason.
    I read her blog before, not anymore. Why? Because it’s okay to post about clothes and beautiful shoes, i liked that but posting pictures of her luxurious apartment or her super cool trips/furnitures/anything else, it’s different. It’s too much, it made me uncomfortable and at the end, yes, some kind of jealous. Have you seen her apartment? While she’s only 20 yo?! I’m glad everything’s ok for her, really but… that’s too much. So i’m not saying she deserves what she gets but i have to say that i can understand why some people, even ‘big’ fashion websites are ‘against’ her. Because yes, she sometimes seems spoiled and ‘i’m rich and beautiful, look at me’ :/

  28. River Sun says:

    She is a Fashion blogger that enjoy & Love what she do, that’s how i see her, & i wish her all the luck.

  29. The only people hating on her are those who have Closet Envy. Get over it! She’s 20, young, pretty, and living the life a lot of us wish we had at her age.

    I have had the chance to meet Jane before and she’s not a snobby girl. She’s very caring, personable, and you can tell how much she loves her family.

    She has never said anything negative about anyone on her blog EVER. She has never boasted about the money she has.

    She is hosting a luxury brand style blog. I mean, what do you expect from her?

    Geez, it’s not like she’s stealing from the poor, kicking your dog, or calling you fat. Get over it.

    If you don’t like her blog or her attitude get over it.

    I honestly think people are jealous of the fact she and her family can afford luxury items. There is nothing childish about 20. Honestly, what were you doing at 20? While I was 20 I was in college partying 5 nights a week, going to school three times a week, and had two jobs. We all lead very different lives, however, we shouldn’t bash her based on someone else’s opinion.

    I feel the the negative articles written about her are doing nothing but increasing her popularity.

    Jane is a cool girl with an eccentric sense of style that she intermixes with luxury and vintage. I say kudos to her and her family for making a successful business.

  30. Lauren says:

    I have to disagree with MariaV: “They had no right to judge. ”

    Of course they do. And everyone does. That is the price you pay for sharing everything online. You are putting yourself and your life out there for it to be judged. You are just responding that its unfair because it is a judgment that doesn’t make you / her feel good.

  31. I agree with both sides of the story to be honest. Yes it was unfair to attack her like that, but at the level her blog is at now, you have to expect some backlash. Collaberating with designers and modelling in their campaigns, if they get critised – you get critised too.
    And lets all be honest here. If you were offered to wear clothes that you liked of a high quality would you guys deny that- most bloggers I know wouldnt. For her I guess that high quality is what she’s been raised in and is what she’s used to! And good for her! If I could afford them kinda clothes on a daily basis, I think I probably would too! The highstreet is influenced by designer- she’s just that one step ahead of the majority
    Big respect for her blog though, I do love some of the things she wears..

    Love
    Sophh Elizabeth

  32. Sharon says:

    She has a luxury brand blog and she has the right to make money off doing what she loves. Good for her. It is like this even with Hollywood celebrities, they get criticized for doing what they love, getting well paid, and getting gifts.
    I also think of her blog as something like Vogue, I do not expect Vogue to start putting models in TJMaxx finds. Everyone has a niche. And believe me even frugal bloggers are trying to get paid.

  33. Avatar of Laila Noor
    Laila Noor says:

    I don’t have a problem with people showcasing their stuff , no matter how out-of-this-world the price tag is. My only problem was how snobbishly she behaved with the reporter and the fact that her and her mother gang up on her sister about the fact that she does not like to go overboard with the amount of $ spends on clothes , shoes, etc. But then again the press does exaggerate for maximum juiciness in the gossip. Nonetheless I still like her blog and find her posts to be entertaining but…………………

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