NEW YORK, United States — A few months ago, I commented on the patchy quality out there in the fashion blogosphere. Too many blogs, churning out too much of the same content, sometimes poorly written and failing to add anything new to the fashion conversation. Even the term 'fashion blogger' itself is somehow tainted, also bringing to mind the words 'low quality' and 'poorly researched.'
Today, I came across a wonderful article which shows that some bloggers may be taking this to heart, banding together to form a sort of fashion bloggers' guild. There's an actors' guild and there's a bar for lawyers, and so the thinking goes, there could also be a group with a set of standards that helps to separate the good fashion blogger from the downright dodgy, unoriginal and plagiaristic.
Now, why didn't I think of that?
"The Style Coalition will serve as an umbrella for a collection of blogs, like a more intimate version of Glam Media, a content network of more than 900 Web sites geared toward women and fashion," reports the New York Observer. It will be a network "made by fashion bloggers for fashion bloggers," says Michael Pratt, one of the project's co-founders.
Of course, not everyone will agree with this kind of approach. The blogosphere, after all, prides itself on being a free market, where interest (traffic, links, comments) flows to the content that strikes up the most conversation. This, by the way, does not always mean quality blogs are getting the attention.
Having a guild won't change that, of course. The rest of the blogosphere will continue unabated in its discussion of what rent-a-starlet Paris Hilton wore to the latest party. What may change is the ability for these guilded bloggers to identify themselves as professionals; ones who deserve to be invited to events and fashion shows and are treated more seriously as form of professional media.
"Most designers and publicists are still hesitant to grant pesky bloggers access because they’re worried Web writers will post inflammatory reviews or stir up a scene for some cheap Web traffic," says the article. The Style Coalition aims to rise above this, creating "ethical and practical standards" that must be met in order to attain membership.
Another of the project's key proponents is Yuli Ziv, a fashion blogger in her own right, but also someone with a bag full of ideas for how Style Coalition can grow. Amongst other things, she envisions creating a social media consulting firm and a dedicated space for bloggers at the Bryant Park tents.
The article doesn't mention advertising, but I think Ms. Ziv should also add this to her list, if it's not already in the works. This is one of the most sorely lacking services for high quality fashion blogs today, and such a guild might also help to fill this void.
That said, as with all good ideas, the ultimate success of this project will depend on the quality of execution — figuring out exactly how to make this work best in practice. The most difficult step may come in defining the standards and codes for the alliance, and figuring out how to monitor and measure adherance to these standards. It will not be easy to do without raising the hackles of the fashion blogosphere, a notoriously free space where enforcing any rules will be a formidable task indeed.
The best way, I think, would be by setting an example of the highest standard and offering a set of services so valuable that serious bloggers would have no other choice but to meet the same levels of professionalism, ethics and quality just to join.
Thank you to Laska Wanilii for the delightful photo from the first meeting of Polish fashion bloggers.