Blog Dialogue: Calling Out ‘Colorless’ Brand/Blogger Partnerships
As part of our continuing commitment to independent reporting in the North Texas fashion community, DFW Style Daily is proud to share the following though-provoking essay by Dallas blogger Ty Jones of Words and Wardrobes. An African-American single mother and self-professed, fashion-obsessed “word nerd”, Jones’ eloquent post was originally published in June 2011. Updated exclusively for us, it sheds light on a striking lack of diversity in recent brand/blogger partnerships in the fashion world. Read on for her call to action.
Blog Dialogue: Colorless
By Ty Jones
- May 2010: Coach teams with four personal style bloggers to create limited edition handbags, and in November of that year, partners with 10 bloggers for the Holiday 2010 Blogger Campaign.
- November 2010: Fossil releases its 2010 Holiday Lookbook, highlighting four bloggers modeling items from the company’s clothing line.
- December 2010: StyleList (AOL’s style blog) begins creating the StyleList Network, initially consisting of 19 influential personal style bloggers and now representing a network of some 40 bloggers.
- January 2011: Tumblr announces the Tumblr 24, two dozen bloggers selected to attend New York Fashion Week.
- February 2011: Glamour debuts its “Young & Posh” blogger network, consisting of 17 fashion bloggers.
- May 2011: Clothing label Lovers + Friends selects 10 fashion trendsetters to be featured on the REVOLVE web site.
- February 2012: Estée Lauder announces a partnership with a well-known fashion blogger, to serve as the company’s digital guest editor.
- May 2012: Dove selects a New York lifestyle blogger as its first Brand Ambassador, a position encompassing event coverage, product testing, and working alongside a celebrity stylist.
- June 2012: BCBG Max Azria Group choses a prominent fashion blogger to style its 2013 ready-to-wear resort presentation.
Brands are now taking the influence of fashion bloggers very seriously, as there’s no longer any doubt that we’re making waves in the world of fashion. From invitations to Fashion Week to television commercials to editorial gigs, bloggers are receiving unbelievable once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. But as I continue to see bloggers partnering with brands, I always have one burning question:
Where’s the diversity?
None of the partnerships or campaigns listed above include an African-American fashion blogger, with the exception of Glamour’s blogger network, which boasts the staggering number of one. I can’t help but feel a bit saddened at the scarcity of color, not only in the examples I listed here, but in other brand and blogger collaborations.
Unfortunately, the lack of diversity in the fashion industry is not a new development. For example, it’s alleged that the fifteen-year feud between supermodels Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell was incited by the fact that each woman felt she was vying for the one vacant spot available for models of color on the catwalk.
If you read fashion blogs on a regular basis (and even if you don’t), you’re probably familiar with the so-called fashion ‘super bloggers’. These are the bloggers who have countless followers, posts with endless comments, and inboxes overflowing with e-mails from brands, public relations firms, and readers. In other words, they’re considered to be the cream of the crop. Now while there’s no doubt that the ‘fashion-blogger elite’ have tremendous clout in the industry, I have to admit that I’m not influenced to purchase what they’re promoting. Simply put, as an African-American single mother from Dallas on a tight budget, I can’t relate to them.
As a woman of color, I would be interested in seeing a wider variety of cultural representation in these campaigns and collaborations, especially if these companies are partnering with bloggers to increase revenue. In 2010, online magazine coco & crème published an article entitled ‘9 Black Fashion Bloggers Worth Bookmarking’, shining the spotlight on a fashionable and influential group of African-American bloggers. This article proved that minority talent is, in fact, readily available.
And if you really want to talk about influence, the numbers say it all. Research has shown that African-American women spend heavily on cosmetics and clothing, compared to the general market. According to financial magazine Black Enterprise, black buying power is on track to reach $1.2 trillion in 2015. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that to add to their profits?.
By excluding African-American bloggers from these collaborations, brands are doing a disservice to a demographic that could increase their bottom line considerably.
Further, as brands continue to collaborate with many of the same bloggers, the result dilutes the quality of the projects. Personally, I don’t feel that these collaborations accurately represent the real world (and maybe they aren’t meant to), and sometimes I question whether brands are even interested in combating this lack of diversity. Instead of simply partnering for popularity, why not choose fresh faces? New perspectives? Different styles? Minorities?
From different styles to distinctive viewpoints to unique authors, diversity is the essence of the fashion blogging community. In an ideal world, campaigns would reflect that variety and celebrate the diversity that not only exists in the blogging world, but also in the real world.
However, needless to say, we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a world where companies disregard the influence of minorities, color on the catwalk is nearly nonexistent, and fashion magazines attempt to appease the minority community’s desire for diversity with an occasional nod to women of color. We can only hope that in the future, companies will begin to be more open-minded in their collaborations, campaigns, and partnerships, and that marketing to minorities becomes a more promising endeavor. Or, we can just call them out.
Brands, I’m calling you out. Are you listening?
Special thanks to Ty Jones from all of us at DFW Style Daily. Visit Words and Wardrobes for more from this talented Dallas blogger.