Lindsay Calla, the face behind fashion blog Saucy Glossie says that until recently fashion bloggers got paid by way of free gifts, that is if they got paid at all.
But times have changed. Alexander Borges, director of Next Model Management, an international modeling agency, has signed up a batch of style bloggers including Rumi Neely’s Fashiontoast. ‘It’s definitely a growing division’ says Borges referring to the addition of fashion bloggers to Next’s usual stable of fashion model clients. He adds ‘We’re treating bloggers as the next generation of people who will be used for advertising’.
These days there are lots of fashion bloggers have their own agents who broker all sorts of deals for them.
And it’s not just advertising. Some fashion bloggers are reportedly making six figure incomes by writing sponsored posts, making personal appearances, endorsements with fashion labels or as brand ambassadors, design collaborations, television work and guest articles in major fashion magazines. And this in addition to selling ad space on their web sites.
Digital Brand Architects is a new agency in New York, just one of a group of newly started up agencies which specialize in fashion bloggers. Former director of digital media for Ralph Lauren, Karen Robinivutz, who started Digital in late 2010, says that fashion bloggers are the ‘next influencers’.
Saucy Glossie’s Lindsey Calla is one of Robinivutz’s clients. Just two years old Saucy Glossie features photos of Calla wearing clothes from inexpensive labels. Calla calls it ‘style on a real-girl budget’. She says that since she signed up with Digital and has someone else to do the talking for her she is not just free to do the creative stuff, but also has had some great deals negotiated for her.
Another Digital client, a former designer for Naeem Khan, Kelly Framel, who started her blog The Glamourai three years ago, says that since signing up with the agency she has been hired to work on some great projects with major labels.
Robinovitz’s clients say that she knows about social media and is a strong negotiator. Robinovitz herself likens the agency’s work to that of a literary agent working with authors. “We’re focused on their talent” she says of her blogger clients.
But not everyone agrees that having an agent in the current fashion media landscape is such a good thing. There is concern that bloggers may well price themselves out of the market by using tough (and some regard as ‘pushy’) negotiators.
Yuli Ziv author of Blogging Your Way to the Front Row, says that the industry is really too young for agency representation. Ziv, who founded a web site for a network of bloggers called Style Coalition which signed up on an advertising partnership with Elle magazine, says that there are only a few people at the stage where an agent is warranted.
Digital’s Robinovitz disagrees. In addition to assisting her clients to avoid pitfalls in the industry, she believes that the talent of her clients deserves the sort of deals she brokers. She points out that clients like photo blogger, Jamie Beck, recently hired by DKNY to take back stage shots at its recent runway show, will one day be talked about with the same reverence that people show when talking about Irving Penn.
Robinovitz concedes that many fashion companies are not enthusiastic about the advent of the new group of agencies representing fashion bloggers. ‘Many fashion companies still treat bloggers as little more than style-obsessed young women looking for swag. They are used to working with bloggers directly not through their agents”. She says that it is quite confronting for some of the brands to ‘get pushback from a blogger who says they want to be paid’.
Whatever the future holds, one thing is clear. Fashion bloggers have displaced the old guard. Many bloggers have become as famous as the labels they write about. Jet setting around the world to various fashion events is the lifestyle of the new fashion critics. One celebrity blogger, Bryan Boy even signed up this year with the Hollywood agency Creative Artists known for representing top movie stars like George Clooney.