Thursday, March 26, 2015

This post has been a long time coming. It's been a while since I posted. I've had a hard think about which brands I will be featuring on The Fashion Department and why. Also been questioning why blog at all. I keep getting to the same answer, because I love it. And I get excited when you tweet me to show me you bought something I wore or want to know where something I am wearing is from. Recently I have been feeling really crappy about the way local bloggers are being treated by brands. I can only speak for myself though and my personal experiences of The Fashion Department.

I'm lucky because I get to be in fashion media as a full time job. I studied, interned and worked hard to earn my spot as a Fashion Editor at a top selling SA women's title. I am part of a very small group of bloggers who actually work in fashion and media full time and are able to run their blog out of passion on the side and not for an income, although when opportunities to monetize the blog are made, that is a huge bonus. So, I get to experience brands, marketing teams and PR companies from a magazine's point of view. And also, the ugly side, as a blogger as well. I can rave about almost all the people I work with as a Fashion Ed. But as a blogger I feel like PR's need to get on board completely or just don't bother. Don't try squeeze us for all our worth.

For those of you reading this as a reader and not a blogger or media person, I'll explain how lookbooks should work. Either a fashion blogger features clothing they have bought, been gifted or have been paid to feature and then they get to keep. They should always be open about being paid to post. But, shockingly, there seems to be this idea amongst some brands and PR companies that either they don't have to pay us or they don't have to give us the actual clothing we are advertising for them. For example I saw this Mango dress when they launched their latest Winter collection in store a few weeks ago and loved it but couldn't fathom spending R1000 on a simple black dress. I left the store and couldn't get this dress out of my mind. Even though I had a 25% off voucher, I still thought it was pricey compared to say a Zara LBD. I work in fashion with some of the most expensive brands available but still feel like R1000 plus is a fortune on one item - I almost always buy items on sale or look for something similar but cheaper somehwere else because now days you really can find almost the same stuff at different stores at different prices. But then I thought I work so hard for what I have, and I feel amazing in it so I'm getting it. So I raced back to Mango and grabbed it. I also found the Mango knit I am wearing on sale marked R350 from R699. Ten minutes later I was buying these Cotton On slip-ons for R300 because I live in my other two pairs and figure R300 is not a lot considering how much I will wear them. Then this weekend I spent a girly afternoon at the Waterfront and found these beautiful Witchery semi hoops for R175. I have a lot of Witchery jewellery because unlike the other accessory stores in the same price bracket, I find their jewelery does not tarnsih. I don't need to tell you what I spend on my clothing but I want you to know that I do spend my hard earned money to buy clothing I love to wear. Sure I get a lot of free stuff but you won't see the half of it because either it's not my style or I don't think it's special enough to make it on here. Not always. Sometimes a brand will send me something and if I love it and genuinely wear it, I will feature it. Or they will send me a voucher to shop. Or they will pay me to feature their items, but I only do this if I genuienly shop at that store or love the brand.

There's been a nasty idea planted in some PR companies heads that fashion bloggers are happy to go into a store, take clothing out on apro, shoot a lookbook, type a piece claiming they own or wear the items and then return the clothing. Firstly, gross. And secondly how can we promote a brand or clothing we don't own or actually wear. It's a lie. Some fashion bloggers might think that it's cool to do this, I don't think it is. I hope most don't, it sets a bad precedent and I kinda feel your readers won't appreciate it. Blogging is not all about freebies and parties filled with champagne. It's time consuming. Pictures, editing, writing, posting. Time is super valuable and I just feel companies need to get on board or move on. If you want exposure and we want to give it to you, compensate us in some form. Free stuff doesn't pay our bills and I like to think that one day SA bloggers will be able to have full on careers out of this, if brands and PR companies choose to work together - collaborate with us, compensate us, there are so many opportunities out there for brands and bloggers together. There is no need to squeeze us dry and there is equally no need for bloggers to just accept everything that is offered or beg for freebies all the time or try squeeze the brands dry either.

If you are just a reader who loves reading The Fashion Department, thank you for loving it like I do. I promise you I only ever feature brands I love and wear. If I get money to feature something I will tell you, but it's only because I love it anyways and why shouldn't I get paid to talk about things I love, how lucky is that. I am so grateful I get to live and work and play in an industry I always wanted to be in. At school I said to my parents I want to be a Fashion Editor. I just had my 10 year school reunion and I was proud to say I am one.  

If you are a brand, marketing company or PR agency, thanks to some of you for just getting it and for believing in some of us. For the rest, I can just hope you listen to what I've said. Use it or loose it, I hopw you use it. What's next? Well I hope SA bloggers can get their blogs to the levels the inetrnaitonal ones are, but we all need to work together. It's a give and take relationship, it works both ways. You have the product, we have the space to share it.

If you are a fellow blogger, do you feel the same? Don't be afraid to ask for what you are worth. Use sites like Webfluential. Your time is worth something. Don't just say yes to freebies all the time, otherwise we are all expected to and we will never make businesses out of our blogs. Do you watch Fashion Bloggers on Style Network (I think that's the channel!)? If you wanna be like them you have to start thinking like them and asking for what you want. Passion aside for a minute (it goes without saying you can't do  this without any), think of it as a business too. Also, say no to the apro, please.

This has been a scary post to write. I may never hear from some brands again. And some bloggers may not like me after this. So be it. Why do I blog lookbooks? Because I want girls to see what's available, I want to share what I love to wear and how I love to wear it. I want to be a fashion influencer. I want to inspire. And I hope I do.


Jared May said...


Chanel Glass said...

I feel exactly the same as you Cara, might not always have the guts to say it but I think its time we all got together and took a stand against this.



The Fashion Department © All rights reserved · Theme by Blog Milk · Blogger