If you’re a regular reader of BBB then you’ll know that I’ve somehow ended up with a fashion page for a paper. I’ve found it really hard to make the transition from beauty where I’m right at home to fashion where I struggle to get my head round a £1,000 pair of boots, am at a loss as to when combat, military or animal prints can merge for one look or divert piecemeal to another look entirely, and oh, the PR’s who don’t expect to be actually *telephoned*, but expect you to submit a request via email. To be fair, I’ve now got a good contact list of people that won’t bite my head off and are, in fact, positively charming..but every time I venture to new brands I just end up feeling that I don’t really want to be spoken to like that. So, it’s a tough call – of course I want readers to see the best that I can possibly find for them, but should I have to beg for it?
When I first started working in beauty (for a national), one brand refused point blank to send out any samples saying that I could only have images and yet, the newspaper shot all their own images so with no sample to send, I couldn’t actually feature the brand. Not that they could have cared less I might add, so there was no gratifying calls to ask why I hadn’t ever used them. Many of the prestige brands really don’t care whether they’re featured – they’ve got such stong advertiser relationships with magazines that they know they’re guaranteed coverage by their ‘top ten’ and as long as that happens, anyone else can whistle for it. It’s seemingly the same in fashion…and not where you might expect it either. I totally get that Chanel for example, may not want their brand to be featured next to Littlewoods in a spread, and prestige brands outright refuse to lend to certain publications because they actively don’t want to be in them! Never mind that one person’s money is as good as another’s. Back in the day, Jo Malone were really picky about what magazines they were seen in, and stylists used to end up having to buy the products from the Jo Malone shop in order to actually feature them in print. Crazy. There’s very little of that elitist attitude left in beauty now, thankfully.
But fashion still carries on with a madly superior stance – my worst experiences have been with ASOS, Topshop and H&M – certainly not the prestige brands who have been cautious but on the whole at least manageable pleasant. As with beauty, there are millions of fashion brands out there, all elbowing for print space to sure up their profits, so it’s easy to switch to another brand for a very like product. So, while I just refuse point blank to ever phone them again, really it’s like water off a duck’s back to them.
The forray into fashion has brought back though the ghastliness of the ‘gifting’ tiers…we all know in beauty that the key eds get the trips, the uber-gifts etc and that’s fine – I know it’s all about who you work for and not who you are – but while I genuinely don’t really care about the gift itself, I do mind knowing that exciting boxes are couriered left, right and centre to prestige titles, while, despite featuring some companies virtually every week, there’s no knock on my door! And, truly, it isn’t the gift (what exactly would I do with a weirdly angled dress in a ‘statement’ colour??) – it’s the tier system that does really stick in my throat and I know I’m not alone in that. There are lot’s of us freelance writers showing products to literally millions of readers that never so much as get a coffee. Oh, that reminds me, and it’s not particularly relevant but funny none-the-less, that someone did invite me out to lunch but stressed it would be a ‘sandwich’ lunch – i.e. cheap, on the very same day I knew for a fact that the same person was taking another (clearly more important) writer to a super-swanky dinner at the Ivy that very night. I did politely refuse the sandwich and happily bought my own lunch that day.
Fashion week starts next week, and there’s a marked difference for fashion bloggers. Whereas last year and the year before, it was all about the bloggers, this year, they’re finding it harder to get show tickets, and the magazine editors are sighing with relief that they seem to be edging back into their (perceived) rightful place. Hey, don’t say blogging was just a fashion?
So, this is turning into a real ramble of a post, and it’s not at all about wanting a superior status, gifts or even recognition for my work, it’s supposed to reflect an archaic system that doesn’t really acknowledge people, but publications, and all I’m saying is that it’s not always easy to work within it.