A riot of colour. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
A riot of colour. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Instead of everyone’s attention on the fashion trends draped on statuesque models on the catwalk in Milan, the focus was on Vogue editors who took aim (and no prisoners) at the industry’s latest influencers – bloggers.

Each season the world’s senior magazine editors, bloggers and fashion cognoscenti make their month-long press pilgrimage to the world’s fashion capitals: New York, London, Milan and Paris.

The second oldest, Milan Fashion Week, is deeply rooted in the heritage of luxury where the original European fashion houses, including Gucci, Armani and Prada, debut their collections.

But this year, the focus shifted from the catwalk to a virtual boxing ring.

The gloves came off when Sally Singer, Vogue’s creative digital director, wrote a “Note to bloggers who change head-to-toe, paid-to-wear outfits every hour: Please stop. Find another business. You are heralding the death of style.”

This was followed by a salvo from Sarah Mower, chief critic at Vogue.com, who referred to professional bloggers as “pathetic … when you watch how many times the desperate troll up and down outside shows, in traffic, risking accidents even, in hopes of being snapped.”

67% of consumers felt trends now come from people, fashion bloggers and street style rather than from fashion editors

The blows didn’t stop there, as Alessandra Codinha, Fashion News Editor at Vogue.com, opined: “… rather than a celebration of any actual style, (fashion blogging) seems to be all about turning up, looking ridiculous … It’s all pretty embarrassing – even more so when you consider what else is going on in the world. (Have you registered to vote yet? Don’t forget the debate on Monday!)”

The response was quick, with Alex Leech, Fashion Editor Digital at High Snobiety, calling out Codinha’s political pot-shot.

“This is where things get really, really high-and-mighty. Is Vogue producing hard-hitting political analysis? Contemplating the roots of Donald Trump’s rise in America or the racism sweeping across Europe? Of course, it isn’t, it’s a fashion magazine. Why bring politics into this?” Leech wrote.

Highlighting the disconnect between the two media, Australian blogger Zanita Whittington wrote that “… it really highlights how little these women know about what it takes to have massive social and online success in this arena.”

So what motivated this call to arms against the bloggers, and who is winning this battle?

With 82% of consumers saying that fashion blogs will become more influential than fashion magazines because of the appeal of a constant stream of fresh, free content, the results of this survey indicate bloggers are in the ascendancy.

With Asian fashion bloggers such as Vanessa Hong of @hautepursuit and Xiaowen Ju of @jujujuxiaowen enjoying rock-star status and chalking up to half a million followers on Instagram, bloggers wield significant influence over the purchasing habits of large segments of the market.

In fact, 67% of consumers in a recent *survey considered that trends now come from people, fashion bloggers and street style rather than from fashion editors.

In response to Vogue’s comments, two of the world’s most successful bloggers took to Twitter:

“I’d have a bounty for my head if I namechecked all the editors who told me they only go to certain shows because they’re advertisers.”   bryanboy (@bryanboy) September 26, 2016

“Firstly, let’s not pretend that editors and stylists are not beholden to brands in one way or another, getting salaries at publications …” susiebubble (@susiebubble) September 26, 2016

Perhaps Vogue’s comments reflect a protectionist reaction to its long-held monopoly over advertising dollars. And bloggers, as legitimate competitors to traditional media, are now clearly holding their own.

*The survey was conducted via an email newsletter through Psyche’s customer mailing list, attracting around 1,138 responses. Around 60% of those surveyed were female, 40% men, and the majority were between 35-44 (30%) followed by 25-43 at about 28%.

Elissa James is founder of irislillian.com