For years fashion bloggers fought to get inside the tents at New York Fashion Week. Years. Starting in 2006, when Julie Fredrickson (founder of Coutorture) ambushed Anna Wintour for an impromptu interview at at a fashion show, to endless battles with IMG to get press credentials. Once brands started realizing the value of giving influential bloggers access to their shows. Getting invites to fashion shows was and still is the ultimate validation for a fashion blogger's success.
Getting invites to fashion shows was and still is the ultimate validation for a fashion blogger's success.
Which is great for our community. Validation for our little industry from the establishment. Both brands and bloggers are in this love affair of validation and promotion which works fantastically for each other, however, one important group appears to be left out of the equation.
As a blogger, I thought my readers would love “insider access” on my blog, with original photos, my unique “perspective” and with all the noise about Fashion Month, it seemed like the readers tended to tune out.
As a blogger, I thought my readers would love “insider access” on my blog, with original photos, my unique “perspective” and with all the noise about Fashion Month, it seemed like the readers tended to tune out. I took it personally, like I needed to step up my game, try alternate content strategies, ie back stage looks, celebrity spottings, interviews with people I wouldn't normally have access to. And nope, readers really just wanted to see my new shoes.
Last season, in talking with bloggers (who of course didn't want to be named, because you know, appearances) the their traffic actually goes down during fashion week. This was true for my blogs as well. So this year, I took a look at bloggers social media presences and post in comment counts. This of course is NOT a scientific study, but an observation of engagement.
Do followers follow NYFW?
Eat, Sleep, Wear does fantastic on Instagram, however her fashion week shots do get nearly the same level of engagement as her outfit shots.
Jamie Beck, of Anne Street Studio, is known for her beautiful photography. When photographing her beautiful scenes she gets loads of interaction, when photographing fashion week, her coverage does well, but average.
Atlantic Pacific‘s followers appeared interested in an empty room before the show, than the actual show. Still good engagement, but nothing compared to some of the likes in the 8K range of her normal pics.
Some bloggers like Song of Style, and Gary Pepper did not experience a dip with their engagement on Instagram, however they only posted a few photos from the runways.
Ok, that's Instagram, but what about the blogs?
While a majority of the shows bloggers attend to get lost in the Instagram/Twitter mix, fewer and fewer bloggers are posting about the actual shows they attend. Why? Well, upon doing research, I found no examples of posts exceeding average engagement (though, feel free to correct me!) many bloggers experienced lower engagement than average. Indie favorite Keiko Lynn, who generally gets 50+ comments per post, raked in about half that for runway coverage.
This Time Tomorrow also experienced a similar thing, on average garnering around 40 comments per post, her coverage of coveted designer Prabal Garung pulled in a whopping 18 comments, despite the excellent photos of details you couldn't see on Style.com
Even the Blonde Salad's audience has lackluster engagement when she's sharing Fashion Week news (usually in the form of livestreams). Her strategy for Fashion Week coverage is to tie runway shots into her daily outfits which garner in the 220+ comment range. Without her outfits, posts generate on average of 50 comments, a fraction of her normal activity.
Does Lower Engagement Mean Lower Traffic?
No. Engagement does not necessarily mean traffic. On IFB, some of our highest engaged posts did not bring in as much traffic as some of our pillar content (content which pull in traffic month after month). Perhaps other bloggers have figured out the formula, like the Blonde Salad and Song of Style how to balance coverage so their readers get excited about the runways. But generally speaking after all the Tweeting and Instagramming of the shows we see at fashion week, our readers either do not feel the urge to engage with the content, or they simply do not love it as much as a blogger's regular content.
Should Bloggers Go To Fashion Week?
I've thought about this a lot. Years ago, visiting Paris and meeting up with Parisian bloggers, I was surprised how many of them did not want to go to Fashion Week. They said, Fashion Week wasn't what their blog was about.
This season, I sat Fashion Week out for the most part, and to be honest, I loved it. Partially because of the IFB Conference, also because of other more important personal things going on, and also because I wanted to see if focusing on regular content would make a difference. It turned out that engagement of regular content stayed the same, and I also got more sleep. Now, for many bloggers coming to New York and doing the whole fashion week thing is important part of their business, making connections and appearances. So it's worth it to still go.
However, unless bloggers develop a content where Fashion Week fits seamlessly, or unless they develop a specific angle for the stories (the angle of which they can see the runway doesn't count), there really isn't a point in going for the readers. How does that translate in brands inviting bloggers to the tents? Only time will tell.
Maybe We'll Come Full Circle With Fashion Week
Fashion Week used to be an exclusive event only known by the fashion elite, buyers and editors. It was only studied by those who truly passionate and knowledgeable about the industry. Blogging and social media had a large role in opening up this event to the public consciousness, which has been an added value for brands and bloggers alike. But perhaps Fashion Week was a bit like the Stone Masons in terms of exclusivity and people actually caring. We cared more when it was a secret, now that we all know what goes on behind closed door initiations and RSVP lists, maybe the public doesn't really care that much after all.