“Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper.”
Fashion bloggers have disrupted the fashion industry and are more powerful than ever. The top influencers online and on social media have been catapulted into celebrity status, and some earn the type of compensation and perks that used to be awarded exclusively to the most stylish hollywood starlets. What the bloggers haven’t earned is a lot of respect.
There is a feeling that they’ve snuck into the club through the back door. They haven’t paid their dues and the “work” they do seems to hold little value. Traditionally, getting to the top of the fashion industry meant climbing a steep ladder while someone throws rocks down at your face.
But then came the great disruptor, the internet. Bloggers emerged and ushered in a gradual democratization of fashion that flipped the industry on its head. Bloggers have taken a shortcut to the top and consumers have kept them there, because at the end of the day, whoever sells more wins. So far, bloggers are winning.
As you can imagine, this is pissing off many people who represent the old guard in the fashion world. They feel cheated, jealous, and insecure about their place in this shifting marketplace. The trash talk publicly aired by the fashion editors at Vogue represent a sentiment that has been brewing for years. Fashion insiders detest the nouveau-riche fashionistas that are stealing the limelight. Their hate only thinly veils the envy that motivates their vitriol.
The fashion industry has always felt a little like high school. There’s gossip, cattiness, and cliques. The successful fashion blogger is like the new kid who transfers in during the middle of the year. By then, groups have formed and a hierarchy established. Enter the new girl, who is not a wallflower but beautiful, charming and has an amazing wardrobe. She is a force and all the boys are staring.
If you’ve ever seen a high school movie, you know what happens next. Girls bring out their claws and fight to protect their territory. They feel entitled because they were there first. They are threatened by change and will target the disruptor of the status quo with spite. This is a primal tendency and a fundamental aspect of mating. Female animals will become raging bitches when they feel their status is threatened.
But we are human and therefore have a choice. We don’t have to be mean girls. We can be women that are supportive and gracious. We can choose to be threatened by the competition, or we can choose to be inspired by it. We can resist change or learn to adapt. We can attack the disruptors or welcome progress. We can work to stay relevant in an evolving marketplace, or we can be victimized and hateful.
Also, the fashion community is not high school. It’s a trillion dollar industry, which means there’s plenty to go around. And fashion blogging is not what it used to be either. There is no longer a back door. It is hard work and extremely competitive to make it as a blogger today because the market is overly-saturated. The bloggers that got to the top first now have to work their asses off to stay relevant and competitive with all the newcomers. They have become entrepreneurs, and that is what you have to be now to build and monetize your digital brand.
So if you need to vent, maybe do it privately. It’s completely normal to feel jealous, and we all have our bitchy moments. But I think the most successful people in any industry are the ones that thrive in a competitive environment without relying on hate, meanness, or victimhood to reinforce their status. If you can make it to the top without being a mean girl, then you are woman who can stay at the top without losing integrity.