By Megan Cahn
Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia is in full swing and fashion bloggers Down Under are in a sartorial flurry, attending shows, snapping outfit shots and giving their followers a behind-the-scenes look at the Australian style soiree. During this whirlwind week, and in the more calm days to come, newly launched blogger platform Fellt.com is enabling readers to soak in the top tier fashion blogger buzz and inspiration all under one URL.
On the heels of NowManifest, the digital media publisher Sydney Stockholm launched FELLT, another powerful platform that has quickly become Australia’s largest blogger conglomerate. NowManifest gathers some of the world’s most renowned fashion bloggers, including BryanBoy, Anna Della Russo and Derek Blasberg, under one cyber-roof. FELLT takes this same concept and localizes it to Australia, with entries from eight of the country’s most successful bloggers published on Fellt.com, as well as on each of their own domains. This concept not only benefits readers, but will eventually attract more lucrative advertising.
FELLT’s Swedish co-founder, Daniel Kjellsson, had never been to Australia before starting the site, but saw its potential as a fashion marketplace. He and his partner, Johan Bergström, another Swedish self-described Internet junkie, looked at a few international markets for their project, but found Australia to be the most interesting for a variety of reasons. People were writing and producing high quality blogs; people were actually reading them; yet the economy surrounding the national blogosphere was still minimal.
“That combination: the amazing content, the engaged audience and the blog economy just about to take off, made us quit our jobs, lease out our apartments and get on the first flight over,” said Kjellsson.
The job he decided to leave behind was at a large Scandinavian traditional media company with one of the biggest fashion brands in the world. From this position he began to see how attractive professional bloggers were becoming to advertisers and readers, and how much damage they were doing to the fashion business.
“One day I said to myself this isn’t just something flying by—this is it,” said Kjellsson. “Self-publishing is built on a personal relationship between the writer and the reader, a direct form of communication and trust that I believe in. I think a few extremely talented individuals are going to change us all.”
So Kjellsson set out to find such talented individuals in the Australian blogosphere. As he had never been to the country, he also had never met any of the Australian bloggers. But after six months of research, he determined that he would invite eight to be a part of his “Dream Team,” which now includes Studded Hearts, Oracle Fox, Zanita, Harper & Harley, Gary Pepper, Tuula, Shine by Three and K is for Kani.
“I am convinced they all initially saw me as some crazy Swedish guy trying to get their attention on Skype. And who wouldn't?” said Kjellsson. “But after talking for hours and days and weeks and months, they saw what I was trying to create and remarkably enough, they all responded to my vision.”
While other platforms house thousands of bloggers and are open for anyone to join—FELLT prides itself on its selected cream of the crop. They will not expand in the future, but give sole focus to the careers of these original eight.
“I rarely look at FELLT as a network,” said Kjellsson. “It is about eight remarkable individuals and eight different personal brands. From a tech, sales, editorial and management perspective we are going to help them evolve and go wherever they want to.”
Kjellsson seems to have stepped into the roll of a fairy blog father, understanding how much “blood, sweat and tears” it takes to create a great product and wanting to reward bloggers for their hard work. He realizes the true value of FELLT is the relationship between the writers and their readers—something that was built over years, way before he came into the picture. But his goal today, along with his two FELLT partners, is to help the bloggers take that relationship and translate it into lucrative careers that are unique to each of their own personal brands.
“It’s completely individual. Maybe someone wants an international TV career, someone wants to travel the world or someone wants to launch a retail chain. Whatever it may be, we plan that in actions, and everything we do is a step in that direction,” said Kjellsson.
With people continuously looking at blogs with larger interest, Kjellsson believes creative types will soon be able to fulfill their dreams of doing what they love full time. This is his future of journalism, in which people will not simply trust a magazine article, but better a specific person who they have developed a relationship with over time. And with the launch of FELLT, Australia is taking a place in the front line of this media evolution.
“Influential self-publishers with strong and unique voices will become trademarks and compete with the traditional media publishers,” said Kjellsson. “The readers have in most cases already made their choice, soon advertisers will as well.”