Fashion Bloggers the New Fashion Floggers: the Disclosure Debate

Fashion Bloggers the New Fashion Floggers: the Disclosure Debate

Image via NY Times

How much do fashion bloggers make? The answer is almost rhetorical, because for every one making a living off their blog, there are thousands of others contributing to the fashion blogosphere pro-bono. A New York Times article posed the same question, and surveyed a bunch of fashion bloggers and insiders about the impact of daily style bloggers and how they’ve affected the fashion PR business.

It’s no surprise that high-end bloggers (think The Blonde Salad and Shea Marie) command top dollars for the integrated advertisement they provide with their brand partners. This article suggests that style bloggers are even getting paid for simply wearing outfits to events like New York Fashion Week. While bloggers must clearly indicate when an item they are wearing is gifted or borrowed, there are no guidelines in place for wearing these outfits out and about, and disclosure about promotion becomes an issue.

This issue can even be spread to publications that receive samples of beauty products and fashion items and subsequently use these gifted items in editorials and articles. I’ve yet to see a magazine clearly declare when these items were “gifted” or not, so why are these Federal Trade Commission guidelines only targeting bloggers?

In an age where fashion bloggers and personalities command more attention and higher viewership than their publication counterparts, maybe it’s time that the FTC loosens its rules on disclosure, or rather, extend it to magazines and online outlets that routinely (trust me, I worked at a few…) include products in articles that were gifted or featured in an advertisement in the publication.

So, is it time to review these trade guidelines, or drop them? If we enforce guidelines on bloggers for simply wearing a gifted item on the street, we might have to suffer the headaches from captioning photos like this: Chiara Ferragni outside the New York Fashion Week tents in an Alberta Ferretti dress (c/o Alberta Ferretti), Christian Louboutin shoes (c/o Saks Fifth Avenue, Christian Louboutin), a Proenza Schouler clutch (c/o Net-a-Porter) and Celine shades (c/o Celine Paris). I can only sympathize for the poor copy editor intern having to tag photos with such ridiculous captions.

Image courtesy of The Blonde Salad

Fashion bloggers have become walking billboards for brands, just like celebrities. In fact, fashion bloggers have such an elevated status, sitting in the front rows of fashion week that they are as influential, if not more influential than their singing or acting counterpart.

The article points out that the reach these style influencers have is very important for PR and marketing, because a fashion blogger’s readership is more likely to actually buy the clothes promoted. This type of targeted audience is crucial for fashion brands today, to create brand awareness and ultimately, sell clothes. It’s only fair that fashion bloggers are renumerated for being a living, breathing billboard, when brands would have to pay 10 times more on a magazine ad that wouldn’t have half the clout of being pictured on a highly viewed style blog.

I feel that as the fashion blogosphere changes and becomes more and more integrated with marketing, those bloggers that are merely PR vehicles for fashion brands should be treated (and paid) as such.

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