International fashion blogger and minimalist Ivania Carpio talks to STYLEFAN.NET's editor Li Yin Soh about being in such a competitive industry, criticism of bloggers and what it's like to run an influential fashion blog.
'[There are] a lot of people [who] don’t take you seriously. Saying you’re a blogger is like saying you don’t have a real job.’
‘Where are all the fashion bloggers?’ says Ivania Carpio whilst roaming Somerset House. Fashion blogger Ivania Carpio is in London for fashion week, where designers are showcasing their Autumn/Winter 2013 collections. After deciding at the last hour to pop over from the Netherlands, Ivania is celebrating fashion in the city that embraces creativity. She loves it here. ‘London is relaxed. It’s like people are here for work and to have fun at the same time.’
Having followed Ivania’s blog love-aesthetics.blogspot.com for over 2 years now, meeting Ivania for the first time is exciting. On her blog, she covers everything from the latest shows to up and coming brands that fall within the minimalist aesthetic. As one of the first few Dutch fashion bloggers, Ivania’s audience has spread considerably since 2008. These days, Ivania has thousands of followers from countries like Germany, Australia, Canada as well as the UK.
‘When I started blogging I had zero readers so I may have been one of the first few Dutch fashion bloggers but like no one knew me. People didn’t know I was Dutch. Like I had to beg at the Amsterdam fashion agencies to go to the shows or look at the collections and they would never let me in because they didn’t know who I was. Now they’re letting me in - finally.’
Before fashion bloggers like Ivania, it was the mainstream media who would be covering the shows at fashion week. Now bloggers are increasingly gaining influence in popular culture and fashion, whereby an endorsement from a fashion blogger could bring the brands that associate with them added value, not to mention extra commercial revenue.
As one of the many fashion bloggers who have come to London to participate in the cycle of fashion week shows and events, Ivania is very aware of the usual talk surrounding fashion blogging of late. International Herald Tribune's Suzy Menkes makes a strong case against the flamboyancy of fashion bloggers in her recent article. The criticism that fashion bloggers have drawn clearly has not gone unnoticed by bloggers themselves.
‘The idea sometimes is that bloggers come to fashion week not to see the collections but to be shot and to become celebrities. But I don’t think this idea applies to everyone. Some people do it of course, like they come to fashion week to dress up, like I’ve heard of some bloggers who come all the way to London and don’t even have invites for the shows. They just come to hang around the area when the show’s about to begin and later when you go online, you see them on Stockholm Street Style or something, just outside of Topshop Unique. And everyone just assumes that they went to the show.’
Certain parts and people in the mainstream media are still grappling with the fact that the (usually) young and tech-savvy bloggers who are entering the tents at fashion shows are the ones who are generating buzz and excitement about fashion.
Being a successful fashion blogger in this day and age is not something to be scoffed at. Maintaining popularity with both readers and brands is something Ivania juggles everyday. There are further implications that come with being a blogger due to social stereotyping.
‘The Netherlands isn’t that fashionable, so when you say you’re a blogger, they ask like, ‘so what do you do all day? Sit in front of your computer and take pictures of yourself? Is that your job?’ So a lot of people don’t take you seriously. Saying you’re a blogger is like saying you don’t have a real job.’
‘When I started blogging, it was not even possible, like a blogging career didn’t even exist. People were not even making money with blogs.’ ‘I realised that people were actually interested in seeing my blog so that’s when I started thinking of a blog more of as a publication than as a diary. A blog is not a magazine but I would think about my readers when I make content rather than just seeing my blog as something for myself, like as a diary. I think it started out for myself but then it became a publication.’
After receiving various email requests from readers to update her blog more regularly, Ivania realised that there was potential for growth and to pursue a career in fashion blogging. She completed an internship at L’Officiel and when she started studying journalism, Ivania realised that what she really wanted to do was to ‘produce content that wasn’t necessarily news’. A lot of the work she does now that is part of the blog but are tasks that usually happen ‘behind the scenes’.
‘Sometimes I’ll spend two days working ten hours a day on the blog and the product is not a blog post. I get 40 emails a day and I try to respond to all of them. And when your pictures get misused, you have to email the site and sometimes threaten them to take your pictures off. I am also currently working on a new layout for my blog and on a collaboration with an Italian fashion label that should be out in the summer in Topshop here too.'
When it comes to online publishing, a line has to be drawn between the personal and the public. Copyright and legal issues are tricky especially since bloggers are individuals operating on a much smaller scale compared to corporate publications. But by operating something on a small scale and by doing most of the tasks that would be done by assistants in a big publishing office by herself, Ivania remains very rooted to her job and stays close to the practice of communicating interests with other people who are also interested. This point about blogging does not change with fame or popularity for her. ‘The readers’ emails are the most important emails so I try to answer all of them because if it weren’t for my readers, I wouldn’t have a blogging career in the first place.’