Is It Time For You to Reassert Your Independence?

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Edward Snowden has been all over the news for his decision to release details of an NSA program that some think borders on unconstitutional. Whether you think that his method of doing that was patriotic, criminal or a bit of both, it's a reminder to anyone with an audience that some of the most important discussions start from acts of independence that a person believes to be for the greater good.

For those in the US, this will be a shortened work week as people start to take off on Wednesday for a long weekend of barbeque, burgers and fireworks to celebrate the 4th of July. About a week and a half after that, French bloggers will probably be gearing up for celebrations of Bastille Day, that country's independence day.

…for many readers one of the things that makes blogs on a multitude of topics great is that they do take on things independently that the established media doesn't.

It seems like the perfect time to ask yourself what the last truly independent piece or topic you took on was. Bloggers aren't journalists, so there's no inherent responsibility for anyone to do this, but for many readers one of the things that makes blogs on a multitude of topics great is that they do take on things independently that the established media doesn't.

Remember the Bangladeshi factory collapse that killed more than 1100 people due to sub-standard construction and unsafe working conditions? While low cost retailers like H&M and Inditex (owner of Zara) signed on to a legally binding pact to improve conditions in the factories where their clothing is manufactured immediately after the disaster, others like Gap and Walmart have just proposed a solution – one which doesn't hold them responsible if any part of it fails. Maybe you don't think these companies should be legally liable for the factories where their goods are produced – after all, sourcing is a convoluted mess, where companies can end up having goods made in sweatshops without their knowledge. Though they may award an initial contract to someone whose factory looks fine, that factory owner may outsource orders they can't handle to other factory owners, who never went through any inspections. Or, perhaps you feel that the buck should stop somewhere, and it's up to the megaretailers to ensure that workers along their supply chain are working in safe conditions, no matter what.

The topics that need the most independent voices are often ones that aren't kind to large institutions. In the case of fashion, it means potentially offending very large, deep pocketed brands or important and influential people.

Either way, it's a topic worth questioning and asserting your independence on, and it's just one example. The topics that need the most independent voices are often ones that aren't kind to large institutions. In the case of fashion, it means potentially offending very large, deep pocketed brands or important and influential people. While that may mean not receiving someone's lookbook or not being invited to a show, raising questions and discussing topics that mainstream publications ignore is one of  the greatest celebrations of blogging independence there is.

Concerned about the environmental aspects of fashion? Next time you see a particularly extravagant fashion show, dig into the topic of what the environmental cost of importing an arctic glacier is, and whether there were viable alternatives. While the clothes may be impressive, and the brand history revered, luxury brands shouldn't be beyond reproach. Use the fact that you're probably not going to be seated front row, or invited to the show at all to your advantage, and bring up the things other people aren't talking about. If you're writing for a magazine, there may be a legitimate threat to your income for asking certain questions. If you're writing for yourself, as an outsider, you have a far greater opportunity to provide an independent voice on topics that can spark real change.

What fashion topics do you see not getting enough attention? When was the last time you blogged about them?

[Image Source Shutterstock.com]

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11 Responses

  1. CynthiaCM

    I find that a lot of fashion bloggers don’t talk about fit – unless they are reviewing outfits they purchased on their own. As a shorter (and smaller-framed) woman, I feel that fit, even when you are blogging about a collection you’ve seen online (or live) is important – especially if the designer’s line is meant for RTW rather than couture (and the fact that smaller body types are typically left out (or more accurately, dismissed as a non-issue) of the body image discussion is a whole other story). This works – sometimes – but I have a feeling that I’m preaching to the choir because I don’t seem to get a lot of response from readers. I am also known to critique stores that don’t address size issues on the smaller spectrum – especially for something like shoes, which one cannot alter.

    Reply
    • YM Ousley

      Hi Cynthia,
      I’m on the other side of the spectrum – over 6′ tall, but have pretty much have mirror image problems. Pants are never long enough (was always a little jealous of petite friends who could sometimes cheat there by getting ankle length versions), not many brands carry my shoe size, and if they do I’m out of luck if the shoe runs small because it’s usually the last size they make. It would probably take some digging, but I’m sure your readers would appreciate comprehensive fit guides, and petite options for things that are trending. On the plus size side of things, Gabi Fresh really made waves with her fatkini (her description) post, and the collection that she put out that sold out in like 5 seconds. If you took on some of the “don’ts” that you think petite women should try anyway it could be a really strong independent post.

      Reply
      • CynthiaCM

        Thanks! 🙂 I’m not exactly an outfit post type of fashion blogger, nor is DelectablyChic! really a petite blog. I really want to appeal to everyone (i.e. all sizes), while at the same time, address fit issues, especially for RTW collections.

        Most brands don’t carry my shoe size either (4 1/2) – and when they do, it’s usually on the boring side.

      • YM Ousley

        Not that I’d ever have time, but I always wanted to do a shoe line that hit both ends of the ignored spectrum. Believe me, I’m definitely used to finding sites that are like “we go up to size 12!” and getting excited. Then I get there, and it’s basically orthopedic shoes and Uggs and think “well, maybe when I’m 70 with 8 grandchildren I’ll be ready for this.” But I feel your pain. Most brands tend to only do the “special” sizes in their most basic styles.

  2. Krystal Orr

    I have to be careful about this area of interest in blogging. I am actually in the fashion and journalism industries, and such posts could come back to bite me in the ass. But, there are certain topics that I will talk about and put on blast because my integrity is everything. I don’t ever want to work for or with a scumbag brand like Abercrombie, so I am adamant about the way I feel in regards to their business practices. I will always try to be professional…but there are some situations when I just plain don’t care if I ruin my chances to work with someone or a brand.

    Reply
    • YM Ousley

      It’s a tough balance to strike. I know some fairly influential people have been offended by some of the posts I’ve written on my site (and I have the “we’ll sue you!” emails to prove it), but for me the lack of well reasoned criticism in fashion – not just of the clothes, but of the people and practices – is one of the best things about being an independent blogger. Knowing that you don’t have a $1 million ad budget to lose actually makes it a bit easier to cover fashion, since you’re not in the position of a lot of magazines where not enough glowing coverage, or a slight in any way might mean not being able to do your job. I hope more bloggers take advantage of that.

      Reply
  3. The Redhead

    I say what I think about pretty much anything and I run my blog the same way. Example my last post where I mention the swimsuit sizes on H&m. The bras were made for -2 and up…38 was good for a size 0 girl and I ended up with a 42 which is the largest and I am nowhere near that normally. We should all start complaining about such things. They need to take example of real everyday girls and sizes not just one category!Use our voices to make a difference. After all blogging means having an opinion and sharing it!!!

    Reply
  4. Paris B

    I blog primarily about beauty but I think this a timely reminder for most, if not all blog niches. I personally do post independent, critical thoughts and views concerning what I view in the beauty niche. Some of it isn’t pretty but it has to be said.

    Reply
    • YM Ousley

      It’s absolutely important to say that too. Especially if it relates to an ingredient that’s harmful or dangerous, but still legal, I think that’s the kind of thing that’s more important to talk about than just the ads for the latest product.

      Reply
  5. Heidi

    I write often about purchasing American made products and I know that most people don’t want to hear or care that their latest “it” bag or heels were made in countries with serious human rights or labor issues.

    Just yesterday I wrote a critique of the Target + Feed USA project. While I love that proceeds are going to feed individuals in the USA, I was upset that none of the items in the collection were made in the USA. More Americans could have been fed if these products were actually made here.

    http://jax-and-jewels.blogspot.com/2013/07/feed-usa-target.html

    Reply
    • YM Ousley

      That’s a very relevant point to bring to discussion about the collection. Maybe Target’s PR won’t let you know in advance about their next designer collaboration, but it’s definitely worth asking if that collection in particular could have been more beneficial to the cause it’s raising awareness for. A lot of large corporations will ignore your requests for comment on a non-controversial issue, so you probably won’t get a response, but try reaching out to their PR/Communications people to ask why the bags they’re selling couldn’t be produced domestically.

      Reply