The fu­ture h of the blog

As the bl­o­go­sphere booms, NAYAN­TARA KI­LAC­HAND pon­ders the state of home blog­gers

Harper's Bazaar (India) - - BAZAAR -

When asked me to write a piece on the fu­ture of fash­ion blogs in In­dia, my first thought was, “Wait, we have fash­ion blogs?” My daily on­line me­dia binge in­volves roughly 20 to 30 blogs or web­sites, of which roughly half a dozen fall in the fash­ion/de­sign field. Of those, ex­actly zero is In­dian. One of the down­falls of work­ing in the web me­dia world—i run a city web­site called mum­bai­boss.com—is that I, like my com­pa­tri­ots in the in­dus­try, am of­ten called upon to an­swer for the en­tire field. “Where are our Sar­to­ri­al­ists and Cool Hunters?” some peo­ple whine. “In­dian fash­ion blogs suck,” oth­ers, less elo­quent, of­fer up.

To un­der­stand why we have no pint-sized blog­ging prodi­gies of our own, I turned to the ter­rif­i­cally smart Nis­hant Shah. Shah is the elo­quent co-founder and di­rec­tor of re­search at The Cen­tre for In­ter­net & So­ci­ety, Ben­galuru, which pon­ders such in­scrutable things as “dig­i­tal plu­ral­ism” and “ped­a­gogic prac­tices”. In short, Shah is the om­buds­man of the In­dian In­ter­net world, able to de­code the Or­wellian on­line pol­icy leg­is­la­tion that is be­ing drawn up in In­dia to­day. “Most of In­dian scale on broad­band only hap­pened around 2005-06,” he says. “By which time blog­ging was dy­ing its nat­u­ral death. Many peo­ple who came on­line skipped blogs and went straight to Face­book and Twit­ter, so that par­tic­u­lar aes­thetic of pub­lish­ing, es­sen­tial to ini­tial blog­gers, was not even con­sid­ered by users here.”

Harper’s Bazaar

In­deed a quick look at pop­u­lar fash­ion blogs —High Heel Con­fi­den­tial, Wear­about, plus a few ran­dom ones started by north-east hip­sters —re­veal that they’re de­cid­edly low-rent when it comes to de­sign and in­ge­nu­ity. Of the sug­ges­tions of­fered up by our fol­low­ers on Twit­ter, only Repub­lic of Chic by Ban­ga­lore-based sis­ters Ruhi and Faiza Sheikh, seemed to em­body the slick, pop-col­lage self-styled aes­thetic favoured by their com­pa­tri­ots in other parts of the world, such as pre­co­cious teen blog­gers Jane Aldridge and Tavi Gevin­son. But as Shah pointed out, we skipped over an en­tire pe­riod of self-learn­ing which would have en­abled us to muck around with tools like Blogspot and Word­press. Which is not to say we’re not able; af­ter all, most of Web 2.0 which we’ve em­braced (Twit­ter at its core is a mi­cro-blog­ging site) is pred­i­cated on blog­ging not only as a type of con­tent but also as a pub­lish­ing pro­to­col.

To­day, pop­u­lar fash­ion blogs in the US and Europe are re­flec­tive of the adapt­able na­ture of its form—they’re able to bring to­gether the in­for­mal

Even blog­gers who were once lauded for cat­a­logu­ing street fash­ion earn to­day in the range of SIX fig­ures a year

diary-es­que feel of an old-school blog and match that with the vis­ual so­phis­ti­ca­tion of mag­a­zines (Polyvore and In­sta­gram al­low you to do that) and some­times the com­merce savvy of e-re­tail sites. As this hap­pens, the lines will be­come in­creas­ingly blurred be­tween what’s been ‘paid’ or ‘pro­moted’ and what’s in­de­pen­dently re­viewed. And as that hap­pens, blogs, once viewed as the sub­ver­sive al­ter­na­tive to tra­di­tional print re­portage, may face the same back­lash; readers may well won­der whether Tavi, now sit­ting in the front row at fash­ion shows, fêted as fash­ion cov­er­age’s new fron­tier, is any longer a ‘trusted’ voice.

Even The Sar­to­ri­al­ist and his girl­friend and fel­low blog­ger Garance Dore, who were once lauded for cat­a­logu­ing ‘street fash­ion’ have veered into high fash­ion ter­ri­tory; their re­spec­tive blogs re­port­edly earn them some­where in the range of six fig­ures per year. All this has pushed US leg­is­la­tors to pass a law stip­u­lat­ing that even blog­gers must now state to their readers if they’ve been paid to re­view or en­dorse a prod­uct. So what of In­dian fash­ion blogs? Can we ex­pect to see a home­grown Bryanboy? Or even a Busi­ness of Fash­ion, the in­flu­en­tial in­dus­try blog and aggregator? If blog­ging were a sus­tain­able busi­ness, then per­haps; most start off as pas­sion projects be­fore they be­come vi­able ca­reer choices. In In­dia it’s still a pipedream to be a ‘full-time’ blog­ger, which is why you see many half-hearted at­tempts. But the field is wide open; so if you’re 14, have a lap­top and know your Kawakubo from your Kenzo, this could be your golden mo­ment.

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