The biggest buzz during the recent international fashion shows wasn't about a breakthrough designer or a hot new celebrity, but a pint-sized, pixie-haired 13-year old fashion blogger named Tavi.
Like Bryanboy, The Sartorialist and Susie Bubble, Tavi has become the face of a fashion revolution. With one eye fixed on international designers, and another trained on themselves and the people around them, fashion bloggers offer fresh visions of beauty and style. Once seen as outsiders, these fabulous nobodies are now feted by editors, courted by advertisers and flown around the world by designers. No longer reporting news – they're making it. To put it in fashion speak, bloggers are the new black.
Australian fashion journalist and blogger Patty Huntington sees the success of style bloggers resonating across the entire media landscape. "They embody a revolution occurring across the publishing industry," she says. "You've got this new generation of gung-ho, passionate independents going up against an old generation of digitally twitchy reporters. Consumers aren't stupid. They are fashion-savvy and cynical, and they want information quickly and with authority. Bloggers are the tour guides, if you like, to this new frontier."
And there's certainly no shortage of local designers and retailers seeking to work their connections with fashion's new taste makers. Last December, sass & bide hosted The Sartorialist's visit to Australia, where fans queued for hours to meet the man behind their favourite online fashion fix. Sydney label Lover based its 2008 autumn/winter collection on the coquettish style of Swedish blogger Filippa Berg. "At the time, people laughed at the idea," recalls Lover co-founder and -designer Nic Briand. "A year later, at the overseas shows, it became an explosion of bloggers being hailed as style mavens and muses."
Sportsgirl brand strategy manager Prue Thomas says fashion bloggers are now an integral part of their business. "Across all departments within Sportsgirl, blogs have become such an important place of reference and discussion," she asserts. "They can even become the inspiration behind an entire campaign."
This winter, Sportsgirl introduces its favourite online personalities to customers via blogger-inspired window installations and guest editing spots in its instore magazine. "Sportsgirls are hungry for the latest and greatest, so working with bloggers makes perfect sense," adds Thomas. "The fact is that style bloggers are becoming powerful brand advocates that customers trust and respond to directly."
The Sartorialist's blog has seen him chosen to shoot ad campaigns for Burberry Prorsum, DKNY and Australian label Saba. Last May, he was flown to Sydney for Rosemount Australian Fashion Week, and in December he released a book of the rich, emotive images of real people that made him an online star.
Australian blogger Matthew Jordan, who runs the footwear blog, Imelda: The Despotic Queen of Shoes, has also garnered a devoted fan base locally and abroad. Catty, clever and hysterically over the top, Jordan dishes out no-holds-barred commentary to readers hoping to be as "well shod, well imformed" as the former first lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos. Last season's Walter Steiger heels were "so beautiful to look at, it felt like you'd been high-kicked in the tits", while new designs from footwear sensation Raphael Young aroused the author's "touchstone of tyranny". Sportgirl's Prue Thomas cites www.imelda.com.au as one of her morning must-reads ("It makes me laugh daily!"), and late last year Brisbane boutique Jean Brown dedicated a shopfront window display to the Despotic Queen, featuring super-sized photos of Jordan and his website's infamous namesake.
Jean Brown owner and buyer Amber Long says Jordan's blog has had a tangible impact on the way she operates. "His radar is definitely something we tune in to when we're sourcing new designers," she admits. "He has a really great grasp of what's going on internationally, and his depth of knowledge stands out from other bloggers, not only in Australia, but worldwide."