In the fashion world, bloggers are the new black. During Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York this past week, many of the most popular bloggers claim front-row seats next to seasoned fashion editors and writers who are not, shall we say, feeling the love. African Americans’ passionate affair with fashion is legendary and as always, black folks have their fingers on the pulse of whatever is au courant. So it should not be surprising that we have been in lock step with the fashion blogging explosion.
Blogging can satisfy the fashion lover’s need to shine a mirror on his or her clothing choices while articulating a style narrative and familiarity with the culture of fashion as well as its lexicon. Given that it’s high season for fashion folks—New York Fashion Week is coming to a close and Milan is gearing up—The Root decided to investigate some of what black bloggers are beaming out into the fashion universe:
All the Pretty Birds’ creator, fashion journalist/photographer Tamu McPherson of Milan, has been blogging since November 2008. Her blog is similar in aesthetic to that of photographer Scott Schuman’s famed street style blog, The Sartorialist. Nothing in McPherson’s blog shouts—or even whispers—blackness. She has enviable knowledge of designers, frequents fashion shows on more than one continent and photographs herself along with random fashionistas. Her blog’s popularity, accessibility and perhaps, racial transcendence, earned her top blogger status with Harper’s Bazaar for New York Fashion Week.
Equally sophisticated in terms of fashion knowledge and site design is Glamazons: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Fabulous. Written by two fashion magazine editors who go by the pseudonyms “Ferocia” and “Coutura,” Glamazons provides complete coverage of Fashion Week including photos from Naomi Campbell’s fashion show to benefit Haiti. Glamazons, by highlighting black models and photos of black celebrities, makes its targeted audience clear without compromising its class and wealth of fashion insider knowledge.
Poshglam, begun in April 2009 by Jessica Andrews, a former Essence editor, uses vivid description—“cocoon-shaped coats,” “clean yet dramatic chignons”—to give her blog a visceral kick. So it’s a little jarring to see Andrews fall back on that outdated description, “flesh-tone,” That word choice harkens back to the Crayola crayon my mother railed against because “it is not the color of everyone’s flesh!” So come on, fashion writers—especially black ones—can we use “beige” instead? But that’s a quibble. This site flaunts great photos and has earned its writer crossover status points as well; Andrews was invited to cover backstage antics at the Zac Posen show. The site gives special attention to fashion events like Arise’s popular show, which featured three designers from the African Diaspora and more black models than are usually seen on one catwalk.
For the brothers, there is The Urban Gentleman, created by the self-described, anonymous “Urban Gentleman” in 2008. The blog site is both attractive and informative, featuring photos of style icons such as Andre 3000, Kanye West and David Beckham. It cleverly discusses the fashion influences of dandies as well as singing groups like Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons (just how old is this urban gent?). Detailed photos and interviews feature African-American men on the street navigating their clothing choices. Style questions are raised and answered, accessories are featured as well as commentary on fashion shows and television offerings such as MTV’s “Gs to Gents.”
Fashionbombdaily: All Urban Fashion All The Time has been maintained by Claire Sulmers since August 2006. Her specialty: Highlighting ethnic models and black-focused features such as “Black History Fashion trends.” Women’s Wear Daily and Teen Vogue called it a “blog to watch.”
The Chocolate Fashion Blog began in May 2009 by an anonymous, Los Angeles-based blogger who frequently features celebrity “fashionistas of the week” such as Kanye’s boo, Amber Rose (we understand the choice) and Michelle Williams, formerly of Destiny’s Child, (we’re baffled by the choice). The site also contains Fashion Week coverage, including parties and events. The site is less polished than the previous ones. This blogger also maintains Chocolate Male Style which is tackier than its big sister and amateurish when compared to The Urban Gentleman.
Fashionista101, written by single-monikered writers Shauntee and Ondrea, is clearly geared toward younger fashion divas. (Witness their featured style icons Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen.) The blog reads like a teen magazine featuring an exposé of Rihanna’s tattoos, an obsequious interview with Lady Gaga and fall fashion trends. There are In Style-magazine-type photos of clothing without models as well as coverage of best-dressed celebs at recent award shows.
There is a domino effect with these sites as each will lead you to many others and some with specific clientele in mind such as Iriechic (created by a Jamaican-American fashionista) and Hijab Style (for Muslim women).
The Washington Post’s Robin Givhan (first fashion writer, and a sister to boot, to win a Pulitzer Prize) … blogs for The Root’s Their Eyes Were Watching and her own site, but does not blog on the shows. That’s what Twitter is for. EbonyJet has two bloggers covering Fashion Week, Elaine Welteroth and Luke Burke. Essence has a team of bloggers that include Iman who wrote recently about black fashion designers; Emil Wilbekin, Essence.com’s managing editor, who mused about Naomi’s Haiti fundraiser; and Stephany Greene who writes “the politics of style.” These blogs aim to add a tad more substance to the fashion conversation, which is appreciated.
All told, fashion coverage by black bloggers is alive and thriving. Whether you are looking for “ghetto fabulous,” a “hint of blackness” or “barely there,” the blogosphere has something for everyone.
Tricia Elam has written for National Public Radio and the Washington Post and is the author of the novel, Breathing Room.