Screens and Mirrors

Agnes Rocamora has carried out some really interesting studies in the areas of fashion communication and marketing; observing on fashion weeks, to fashion blogs! Today I was rereading her work “Personal Fashion Blogs: Screens and Mirrors in Digital Self Portraits” (2009).

My favourite part of this article is an example where she refers to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, where the magic mirror represents the blogger’s computer screen and followers will confirm them to be “the fairest of them all” by leaving positive comments. I suppose they might also leave negative comments, but then a blogger could choose for them not to be seen!

By bringing together new and old technologies of the self—screen and blog on the one hand, photography and fashion on the other—personal fashion blogs assert themselves as a privileged space of identity construction (Rocamora, 2009, p. 410).

Rocamora reflects on the self-reflective nature of blogs and draws on examples from fashion bloggers (where colour makes one blogger “feel whole”) and identifies that bloggers keep followers engaged through the technique of regularly revealing a little more about their life with each post; “personal stories are narrated supporting the practice of fashion as a technique of the self” (p. 412). This helps bloggers found a more intimate relationship with their readers and the gradual portrayal of their identity brings together individual posts to form a story.

My research will build on ideas such as those of Rocamora’s and build on their theories by looking at how identities evolve over time on blogs, how these translate to other media and whether the identity that is being actively portrayed is consistent with that which is being perceived.

Reference

Rocamora, A. (2011). Personal fashion blogs: screens and mirrors in digital self portraits. Fashion Theory. 15(4). Pp. 407-424.

Me, myself and I

Our identities are not only ours to form and to anchor our existence on; they guide other people’s interaction and behaviour towards us… And visual communication of our identities through dress and/or fashion is ubiquitous and a fundamental tool that proclaims who we are, both to ourselves and to people around us (Sika, 2014, np).

Sika (2014) examines the ways in which fashion influences identity in Fashion for Feminists. This article is really interesting in that it summarises key themes in identity literature in relation to fashion.

A common theme in the literature (discussed by Sika) is the extent to which individuals adopt a number of identities which has led to the subsequent use of “identity salience” where the value individuals attribute to an identity influences the extent to which this identity is adopted (Kleine and Kleine, 1993). Social, role and personal identity are combined to form an individual’s overall identity (Sika, 2014). Social identity relates to the groups one is part of; in fashion terms this might correlate with disposable income and age. Role identity relates to an individual’s functions in life, e.g. student or mother, where identity related expectations are associated with an individual; in fashion terms this might relate to how we are perceived to be successful in said function. How does a “good” mother dress? Personal identity relates to our own unique goals and value system; fashion allows individuals to express themselves but this is usually balanced by their social and role identity. So whilst one may wish to dress in an eccentric fashion they might choose not to due to their career or religion, etc.

References

Kleine, R.E. and Kleine, S. S. (1993). Mundane consumption and the self: a social identity perspective. Journal of Consumer Psychology. 2(3). Pp. 209-235.

Sika, V. (2014). Fashion for feminists: how fashion and dress shape women’s identities. Open Society Initiative of South Africa. [Online]. Available at: http://www.osisa.org/buwa/regional/fashion-feminists-how-fashion-and-dress-shape-women’s-identities. [Accessed: 6th November 2014].

Trust me, I’m a fashion blogger.

There seems to be some mixed reviews amongst industry professionals regarding the credibility of fashion bloggers. There’s no denying that there are some hugely successful examples of bloggers (now opinion leaders) who have become accepted as experts in the sector!

We’re seeing an evolution of the fashion blogger making a timely entrance, and all for the better. You can pick out the influential and credible fashion blogger from the rest; they have a consistent brand, a cult following; do their research just like any seasoned fashion journo and are determined to take care of their business (Ahwa, 2010, p. 36).

The issue of blogger credibility comes up frequently and, where this was once mostly concerned with whether bloggers actually had any substance or knowledge behind their commentary, a key talking point today is that of “gifting”. Suzy Menkez highlights the increasing pressure on bloggers from brands and advertisers who target bloggers with the hope they’ll showcase their products in a favourable light. Jennine Jacob (Independent Fashion Bloggers, 2010) discusses this further in an interesting article where she expresses worry about gifting but also touches upon the unfairness that bloggers come under criticism for a practice that editors have engaged in for years.

But does the fact a product was gifted for review guarantee positive coverage? Bloggers may cry, ‘NO!’ but to be honest, I don’t see negative or even questioning reviews very often. Even for products that don’t get good reviews elsewhere. Bloggers want to maintain good relationships with companies (I know, I try) as much as companies want positive press (Independent Fashion Bloggers, 2010, np).

Sadly I cannot see any fabulous freebies coming my way any time soon… *Must blog more often*

References:

Ahwa, D. (2010). Time to evolve. New Zealand Apparel. 43(8). P. 36.

Independent Fashion Bloggers, (2010). Does gifting affect blogger credibility? [Online]. Available at: http://heartifb.com/2010/06/14/does-gifting-affect-blogger-credibility/. [Accessed on: 1st November 2014].