Fashion for All
Fashion designers and editors have traditionally held a monopoly over what is considered fashion and who can establish style and trends. Opinions, aspirations and the wants of consumers of fashion are not surveyed or actively sought. But a revolution in the online media presence, particularly the increased number of people who are engaged in the blogosphere, has led to a greater participation of the masses in exchanges on ideas of fashion. The Sartorialist, a successful fashion blog created by Scott Schuman, was created with the idea of “creating a two-way dialogue about the world of fashion and its relationship to daily life.” Through social media, such as blogs, regular people are given a platform to communicate their choices of style and clothing back to designers and producers.
Schuman started The Sartorialist with the simple idea of sharing, taking his photographs and posting it online for people to view, interact with and comment on these photos. When walking in New York City, Schuman began taking pictures of people he found interesting. He took pictures of people who were dressed in an interesting way, then went home and posted his pictures on his blog with comments about the subject and context of the photograph. Thus, The Sartorialist was created. Today it is one of the most popular blogs in the world, receiving over 7 million views a month, ranking The Sartorialist in the top 50 most popular blogs in the world.
Traditionally, it is celebrities who are used to “advertise the desirability of the fashionable life to a broader market” (Breward, 2002, p.104). Additionally, fashion literature is thematic and linear in its organization, a stark contrast to The Sartorialist, which features fashion from all walks of life and does not have a particular theme or type of model. Schuman challenges this norm by avoiding celebrities and runways, instead turning to regular people to photograph for his blog. Schuman puts the power of determining what is fashion in the hands of the regular people who wear the clothing. He does this by showcasing fashion as worn by regular people on the streets and looking to them as an inspiration for new designs and as a source of creative fashion. His blog features pictures of mothers, lawyers, businessmen, children, skateboarders, and even construction workers.
The Sartorialist consists of a wide and varied community of people who are interested in fashion and how clothing is worn. Underneath photographs that Schuman posts, regular people comment and partake in a dialogue of what constitutes fashion and their observations of the outfit pictured. There is anywhere from 5 to hundreds of posts from people who are expressing their opinions, asking questions about the article of clothing, sharing enthusiasm for a particular style, or just downright rejecting the fashion altogether. Everyone is invited to comment on whatever they felt was important about the particular image.
Schuman has challenged the status quo of the fashion industry by creating a blog to display fashion that was being worn in ordinary settings by ordinary people, not the usual fashion found in runways and magazines. Through his blog, Schuman has democratized fashion by making images of fashion more accessible to a greater number of people, as well as creating a space where anyone can contribute to a lively and dynamic on-going dialogue on designs and clothing. Lessons can even be learned by major fashion industries that are breaking from the mold of traditional media (such as magazines) and trying their hand in social media, such as Ann Taylor CEO Kay Krill who says, “Online and social media are playing an increasing role and complementing our direct mail outreach, advertising and PR efforts. We’ve a learned a lot by dialoguing with our customer this way.”