NEW YORK - Fashion bloggers have snuck into the tents at Bryant Park this fashion week, and they're not always polite about the shows they see.
The first blogger to comment live from inside the tents was Julie Fredrickson of Almost Girl on Friday morning, who called the John Bartlett men's collection "just slightly odd" and said the "combination of lumberjack bearded men with Tobias Wolf Old School was not a look I can really grasp."
Lesley Scott and Rachel Porter of Fashiontribes were also planning to blog live from the tents on Friday afternoon.
Bloggers are a small but growing presence at the shows. Most do not post live, but comment on what they see later from home. While the number of bloggers who actually make it to the tents is small, there is an enormous, and growing, number of fashion and shopping-related blogs: about 2 million, according to Technorati Inc., a research firm that tracks blogs online, or slightly less than 10 percent of the 2.7 billion blogs the company tracks. (That number includes blogs in languages that use the Roman alphabet and that contain anything fashion-related, including sites such as Pink Is the New Blog, which focuses on celebrities.)
"Fashion used to be very dictatorial," said Constance White, style director of eBay and a former fashion journalist, speaking at a panel on fashion blogging hosted by glam.com last week. "The impact [blogs are] having is the idea that the whole population is taking control and ownership of fashion. As we used to say at The New York Times, 'Our jobs are in jeopardy.' Everybody's a fashion critic. Everyone can comment on whether Reese Witherspoon should have worn the same dress that Kirsten Dunst wore before." Perhaps in five or 10 years, blogs will have the power to make unknown fashion designers into stars, she said.
Fredrickson, who is 22 and graduated from college in December, started Almost Girl about a year ago. She plans to work full time for Fashiontribes as soon as the shows are over.
"It's my first time at fashion week," she said Friday. "It's very exciting. We put up five or six posts from the morning shows already."She plans to attend about four shows a day; the one she is most looking forward to is Doo.Ri.
Fredrickson gained admission to the shows through Fashiontribes, whose editor and publisher, Lesley Scott, has been attending fashion week for about four years as a freelance stylist. Scott started Fashiontribes last May.
Bloggers see themselves as truth tellers in a world where the truth is hard to come by.
"What we offer is a personal point of view," said Scott. "I love magazines, but they can come across as corporate. Also, you get the speed [with blogs]. People like the snarky elements."
"If you're a junior writer at Vogue, you can't write a scathing review of Oscar de La Renta," said Kathryn Finney of The Budget Fashionista. "Whereas, as a blogger, I have a lot more flexibility because my boss is me. Last year, I was really mean to Nicole Richie, but she did look like an anorexic spoon. I'm being honest, and everybody else is talking about how fabulous she looks."
Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist posts photos of street fashion and writes about his visits to showrooms of unusual men's wear brands, two topics not much covered in the mainstream fashion press, he pointed out. Like many of the fashion bloggers, he has experience in the industry and inside connections. A former showroom owner and retail salesperson for such stores as Valentino, he is a full-time dad of two little girls and goes out hunting for pictures on the weekend when his wife, a design director at the Limited, can watch their daughters.
"It's like a reality show," he said.
Getting access to the tents can be difficult for bloggers. Finney's first time was in September 2003. "I think they thought I was a print publication," she said. "It's really hard unless you have a connection. I think they're afraid bloggers will expose how ridiculous they are. I love fashion, but sometimes it gets pretty ridiculous." Her first time in the tents, she shadowed Robert Verdi of Fashion Police and picked up the goodie bags he didn't take.Imaginary Socialite is popular with the fashion assistants at Nanette Lepore, who is doing her own blog from her studio this week and posting on glam.com.
"It's really fun," Lepore said in a telephone interview. "I'm not that hip on the Internet, but blogs are fun and we talk about blogs all the time. There are different blogs here the girls always follow. Mostly, it's for the humor."
So far, Lepore has written on glam.com about the grueling hours during fashion week and revealed that her staff eats bagels rather than seaweed.
The stereotype of a blogger is a lonely soul sitting in her bedroom, sending her innermost thoughts to anyone who will read them in cyberspace, but blogs are increasingly taken up by the mainstream. In June, Finney has a book coming out about how to be glamorous on a budget called "How to Be a Budget Fashionista" from Ballantine Books.
About 11 percent of Internet users read blogs regularly, according to a study by the Tides Center called the Pew Internet & American Life Project. About 70,000 new blogs are created daily, according to Technorati.
"Obviously, she [Finney] had a huge fan base following her postings and an audience already in place," said Duffy. "It's a new vehicle to drive book sales."
Fredrickson also has a book she hopes to publish, a chic-lit novel based on the idea of Prada and Plato meeting. Her agent recently dropped her, saying the book was too intellectual. "I'm sure someone will be interested," said Fredrickson. "Smart comedy is always popular."
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