Monday, September 20, 2010

The Chictopia Conference

Photo Credit Bee Hives

I'm sorry this has taken forever to put up, I was going to post it a lot sooner, but then my computer died a very untimely death. It got recalled by Toshiba because that model has been overheating so much that the battery has been melting and burning people. Luckily I escaped with a hot computer but not burned legs! Crazy! Hopefully I will have it back soon, but in the meantime, posts might get a little bit sparse unfortunately!

The Chictopia conference was one of my favorite events at fashion week. I was debating over whether to buy a ticket or not because so many bloggers said that it had been badly organized last time, but obviously Chictopia learned from their mistakes, because the conference ran so well. They set the tables out dinner party style, so we were all in little groups throughout the room which was a great way to meet people. The food was delicious, I managed to scarf down ridiculous amounts of brownies, and the way that the conference was set up, with panels, really encouraged discussion. I took a lot of notes, so I figured for those of you who didn't get to go, I'd write everything down in detail. I'm sure not all of it will apply to everyone, but it is useful information!

The New Trendsetters: Who Sets the Trends?

The panelists spoke about the power of the blogging community and the interesting position that brands and consumers are now in because brands can see and get immediate feedback from their target audience. The “celebrity” status of bloggers was also discussed. While bloggers don’t get as much exposure as a celebrity they have an audience, one that is not dependent on living in a big city or having an expensive wardrobe. Every blogger can have their niche audience, and on the internet everyone has a say in what’s going on in fashion.

The panelists also talked about brands which are using blogging as a publicity tool. Lots of brands now have blogs to promote their products, yet not all of them are successful in gaining the trust that many fashion/lifestyle blogs get. Cate Corcoran, of Women's Wear Daily, stated that : “Nobody will read your blog if you sound like a corporate marketing press release”, which touches on the idea that nobody is willing to read a blog if there is not a voice they can believe behind it. I think that Topshop and Rebecca Minkoff both do a great job with their blogs because they use guest bloggers or cover events, people, or even other fashion lines that they don’t have an immediate connection to. Therefore their voices seem more realistic and they gain the trust that many bloggers have, because their readers think of them as friends.

The final point which came out of this panel was Cate Corcoran's: “I try to identify what trends are now, and then do something different, because by the time something is a trend, it’s already kind of late.” Amy Odell from The Cut also remarked on this at the Independent Fashion Blogger’s Conference. Bloggers get much more exposure than your average Joe on the street so they are what KB terms “the taste maker” consumer who set the trends for the “early adopter” consumer.

Visibility in the Online World

The discussion in this panel veered discussed the issue of promotion while also being “authentic and true to yourself” (Robin Creen). Bloggers are in the unique position of taking a brand and being able to make a personal connection to that for the customer. E.J. Samson, the spokesman from TeenVogue, remarked on the importance of having a goal for your blog and getting yourself out there any way you can, by volunteering, using social media, and forming relationships with brands. However he also stressed that it is important to be multi-faceted and be interested in more than just fashion. Liz Cherkasova(Late Afternoon) also spoke of this, and pointed out that she is a model and also works for Chictopia, both outlets that bring her more publicity for her blog. She believes in using social media to become more accessible, and says that it is important to respond to your followers by tweeting at them, and responding to their comments and emails. This also extends to other bloggers, and she said that her blog had gotten a lot of exposure from other bloggers. Liz’ best advice on this front was to show other bloggers “that you admire them and want them to succeed”. She tempered her recommendations by saying that if you push sponsorship, another brand, and monetizing too hard people will see that you are blogging for a reason other than your values, and will begin to lose their trust for you. Robin Creen also touched on accessibility and remarked that blogging is like “having a friend recommend a product”. Because of this bloggers must have an authentic voice and be responsible with their branding, especially by not supporting or being sponsored by a brand that doesn’t fit with their values.

Search vs. Social Media

While things like search engine optimization and bounce rate are important, they are not as quantifiable (or enjoyable really) as comments, likes and tweets. In this panel the speakers stressed the importance of reaching out to your readers and “building grassroots relationships” (Vanessa Hong, The Haute Pursuit). There was also a lot of talk about evolving and staying relevant, and the tools that social media provide to practice this. I have noticed that there seems to be a split recently with brands, and some are wholeheartedly embracing the use of social media, while others are seem to be stuck in the past, in the hopes that their reputation will do the work for them. I think this is perfectly exemplified in Jimmy Choo’s recent collaboration with Uggs. Not only have they failed to follow trends online (and in the world!) and see that Uggs are obviously “out” but they have not done much more than take a Beadazzler to them! Just because they are a well known and well respected company they cannot expect that horrible looking things like this are going to sell themselves. Sorry to anyone who is still on the Uggs bandwagon but I absolutely loathe them and believe that you should only be wearing them if you are stuck in a freezing cold cabin in the woods, not in Jimmy Choo went mad with the Beadazzler style fashion with your mini skirt. Anyway, back to the media forms a personal relationship, and people are much more likely to stay on a page if they are fans or have commented, rather than if they have found it through a search engine.

Has The Industry Become More Inclusive?

Jasmine Hwang (Transient Withdrawal), one of my favourite bloggers, was on this panel, and she had some great things to say. I especially loved this quote: “Bloggers are more real. They’re not size 0 or 6 feet tall. I’m an average American girl. If I can pull off that dress then so can others.” The fact that stylish icons like Jasmine are becoming more accessible is so exciting and for me, is one of the main draws to the blog world. There was a lot of debate in this panel about whether the industry has become more inclusive or not, and the end conclusion with most panels is that it has. Dino-Ray Ramos had some reservations about this and I really enjoyed hearing him speak because he was hilarious! He mentioned “tata tattoos” that he had received as a promotion, Rachel Ray’s 30 minute meals in a food snobs vs. Fashion snobs war, and his response to his Medical and Engineering friends asking him if he liked their outfits: “I don’t care”. I was glad that his responses were a little bit controversial and he wasn’t all about the blogger, because I felt some of the speakers that came may not have been completely truthful because they were worried about offending bloggers. I also enjoyed Dino-Ray’s view on fashion in the real world, and agree that “we could afford to use some jazzing up”. I firmly believe that when we are dressed up and take time with our appearance so we feel our best, we are more polite, successful, and generous. If you think about it this way, would you be more likely to be rude to the crazy person who insults you on the subway instead of ignoring them if you were wearing sweatpants or an evening dress? If we are proud of the way we look than we are more likely to evaluate our actions because we do not want our outward and inward appearances jarring with each other. Anyway, I love Dino-Ray. Every sentence that came out of his mouth was so amusing.

My favourite part of the Chictopia conference was meeting so many great bloggers! I just wanted to give them all a little shoutout, and even though I hardly have any pictures of them because my camera was being totally uncooperative, I still love them!

Starr, Annie, and Annie Beautiful ladies who look lovely in vintage, don’t get too caught up in the crazy New York fashion world, and are endless sources of fun! I loved meeting up with them over the course of fashion week.

Jenny Whose writing is as fab as you can imagine, and rocks booty short rompers with the greatest aplomb.

Rebecca, who kindly organized the blogger meet up and is so fashionable in real life!

Mel and Nikka, Stylish New York Ladies who have an amazing girl gang that I not so secretly want to be in.

Tieka and Elizabeth, who are super down to earth and the nicest girls.

Jasmine and Jen, the kindest and coolest dynamic duo I’ve ever met!


Jasmine said...

holy moly these notes are amazing lucy! i am so flattered that i've been quoted! i've never been quoted before hehe :) i miss you a bunch and i can't wait until we see each other again next year! email me when you can ( because i wanna hear all about your new job :D i hope your laptop returns to you soon <3

v a m p i r e said...

sigh i wish i am not in Malaysia , then i could join such great gathering and meet all the wonderful writers esp you

Jen said...

you definitely take the best notes, haha. this is such a great recap and i loved meeting you as well! hopefully we'll all cross paths again someday or at next year's NYFW!! :D
good thing we're all bloggers so we can keep up to date on everything through out blogs! said...

You're such a sweetheart, Lucy! I'm so happy I met you and got to hang out with you lots. I think I'm in the throes of my final stages of stress out about France and probably won't get to take the train into Manhattan before I leave, but let's hang out in nine months when I get back and Brooklyn is totally your oyster and you're totally the pearl of Brooklyn. Have I messed up my bad metaphors?


Blutsventja said...

great pics! <3

Elekon said...

thanks for the article! love Chictopia, everyone`s so friendly there!

Emily, Ruby Slipper Traveller said...

This was really nice to read! I had been wondering what all the excellent tips floating around at the conference had been! I'm off to process how much I agree with or not...

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