Thursday, 27 December 2012

The Biggest Fashion Blogger Clichés and how to Avoid Them

In the lull between Christmas and New Year, I thought it would be fun to take a light-hearted look at my blogging genre and some of the stereotypes that come with the territory. If you're a blogger then you'll probably recognise a lot of these, either within your own blog or from the ones you've got bookmarked for regular reading. 

 He was so determined to nail the vintage look that he went Elizabethan.
[Image my own, taken  at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival].

Of course, you could be running a perfectly successful site by following this list to the letter, but I'm not saying that these points have to be flaws: they're just trends within the blogosphere that I can't help but notice. 

Those fashion blogger clichés in full...

  • You own Jeffrey Campbell Litas and can't stop telling everyone how great they are, in the hope that the PR department will spot you and send you another pair. THEY WILL NOTICE, DAMMIT.
  • You have ombre-dyed hair but would never have considered this until it was fashionable.
  • You go by a more original-sounding version of your name, such as 'Tigerlily' (you were born Tracey) or 'Nebulissima' (you were born Nicola).
  • You regularly mention your boyfriend in your blog posts and occasionally dress him up for outfit posts, which he loathes.
  • You regularly mention your dog/cat in your blog posts and occasionally dress him up for outfit posts, which he loathes.
  • You practically blackmail people into becoming a follower of your blog/Instagram/Hello Cotton/ account and you have a recurring dream of reaching 1,000 Twitter followers, which is surely a premonition, right?
  • You begin your post with the immortal words: 'Hiya, girlies!'
  • You greet commenting blog visitors as 'babe' or 'hun'.
  • Your really imaginative fashion icon is Kate Moss or Alexa Chung.
  • When you put up an outfit post it will consist of approximately 20 photos taken from slightly different angles, including classic poses such as Mildly Aghast, I Have No Idea There's A Camera Present and the Too Close For Comfort. (We all do it, so don't pretend you haven't too).
  • You take grainy pouting photos of yourself in changing rooms, holding up your iPhone 5 so that we can all be clear about the make and model.
  • When you take close-up photos for your blog, you have no idea how to use the Macro function. Wait, there's a Macro function?
  • Your regular posts include Wednesday Wishlists and Instagram grids documenting the minutiae of your day.
  • You leave insightful comments on other blogs such as 'FOLLOW ME! I'LL FOLLOW BACK! ENTER MY GIVEAWAY TO WIN A TAMPON! GREAT POST, HUN!'. If you call me 'hun' again then I will go all Attila on your ass.
  • You never credit image sources and will sometimes post whole series of photos (such as those from major fashion events or product launches) with little or no commentary.
  • You have a whole section of the blog dedicated to attracting PR attention, but the email address you use is something akin to
  • When dealing with companies or press, you add three kisses at the end of all correspondence.
  • You nominate 10 fellow bloggers for an award that you've never heard of, with a daft name such as the Sweet Sugar Bubblegum Blogging Gals Lovefest, which must be passed along in a chain letter style, with the person who ends the chain burning in hell (or Primark).
  • You dream of being invited to super cool all night raves in East London warehouses with posh people who call themselves DJs and smoke roll-ups.
  • The main reason you began blogging was to try and get free clothes.
 You are so edgy that your hair is actually made of diamantes. 
This bloke is apparently an art installation... 
[Image my own, taken at London Fashion Week S/S13].

How to avoid the pitfalls and stereotypes

  • If you don't want to compose a Wednesday Wishlist then don't bother. The world will not end, honest. Your followers can, and will, shop without you.
  • Find out what your personal style is about. Step away from the role models and the routine of stalking your favourite high-profile bloggers and actually discover what you want to wear.
  • A picture tells a thousand words, or so they say, but repetitive photos are really not the answer. It's quality, not quantity, and we don't need to see the same pose in the same outfit but with a 360 degree view. You have a mirror for that.
  • Don't post for the sake of posting - if you don't have anything original to say then don't panic. It can wait.
  • When you do post, say something different, and always credit your image sources. If someone nicked your content and passed it off as their own then you'd want to know about it, so treat others with the same courtesy.
  • If you're marketing yourself as a blogger then remember to be professional, not casual. Get yourself a non-cheesy email address and use it; respond to outreach from businesses in the same way that you'd respond to a job vacancy, i.e. no kisses, full sentences and proving your worth. Oh, and ditch any embarrassing fashion aliases (you heard me, Tigerlily). 
Happy blogging and may your posts be non-duplicate in 2013!

If you have a favourite blogger who avoids the pitfalls then feel free to share their URL below.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Finchittida Finch Christmas Pop-Up Shop at Boxpark Shoreditch

Last Thursday night I wrapped up warm and made a festive pilgrimage to Boxpark in Shoreditch, where cutting-edge jewellery designers Tida and Lisa Finch, of Finchittida Finch, were celebrating their Christmas pop-up shop (complete with beautiful snowflake-print walls and decorations). I know the girls from school and college (ah, memories of A-Level Art!) and they've always been immensely talented, so it was great to catch up over some Beerlao and see what they've been up to. 

Finchittida Finch Jewellery in Boxpark
 Making a statement in silver and gold.

Finchittida Finch Jewellery - Monozygotic Talismans
 Arm yourself with some eye candy.

Specialising in intricate laser-cut statement pieces that have been sported in music videos by the likes of Ashanti, Mele and Lianne La Havas, you'll probably find that their work looks distinctly familiar, and you should be prepared to see much more of them in 2013. 

Finchittida Finch Jewellery - Monozygotic Talismans
 Each piece was set in a screen-printed jewellery box.

Finchittida Finch Jewellery - Monozygotic Talismans
 A necklace and body chain on display.

A large part of their inspiration for the current Monozygotic Talismans collection comes from their Lao heritage and fascination with Lao culture, which is transposed into symmetrical forms such as oversized earrings, body chains with multiple panels and quirky tribal alphabet initial necklaces, in a wearable colour palette of gold, silver and black. 

Finchittida Finch Jewellery - Christmas Pop-Up Shop
 Decisions, decisions...

Finchittida Finch - Monozygotic Talismans
 [Image via the girls themselves] L-R: Tida and Lisa, of Finchittida Finch.

Finchittida Finch Lao Heritage - Loy Krathong
 Their Tumblr blog shows recent celebrations of the Lao festival, Loy Krathong. 
 How fun and colourful does it look?! (Meadham Kirchhoff would totally love this).

 One reason for their use of symmetry is that Tida and Lisa are twins (hence the 'Monozygotic' reference). I loved the fact that they'd used the snowflake - yet another symmetrical design - as the basis for their Christmas shop.

Finchittida Finch Jewellery - Initial Necklace
 Judging from this photo, the letter 'S' is immensely popular amongst alphabet pendant fans.

Finchittida Finch Jewellery - Initial Necklace
You can see how the different tiny sections are cut to create the finished piece.

Finchittida Finch Tribal Alphabet Necklace
 Here's what I bought: a P, obviously... (as worn at home by my battered cherub statue).

Finchittida Finch will be hitting Boxpark with another pop-up stint throughout January. If you're in the area then make sure you check them out and bag yourself a unique piece of jewellery. For those of you unable to get to Shoreditch, head to their profile on ASOS Marketplace.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Fred Perry x No Doubt: A Supercool Collaboration for 2013

Be still, my beating heart - it's time to rock steady as one of the most perfectly matched collaborative efforts of the fashion and music world hits stores in early 2013. Say hello to a meeting of stylish minds as the talented team at Fred Perry fuses with the unutterably cool band No Doubt, whose recent revival could not be more welcome in my eyes. Having had much of my childhood and teenage years defined by songs like Don't Speak, Hella Good and Ex-Girlfriend, I was really excited to see what this collaboration would look like. 

Fred Perry x No Doubt Collaboration: Bomber Jacket
Not your average bomber jacket - this one has the edge of Gwen Stefani (£150). 
[All images via]

What I'd style it with: 
Feel free to mix up your look with this one, as the jacket combines a classic American shape with British tartan. Bombers are great for teaming with black miniskirts and Doc Martens, but if you want to smarten up the look then team yours with oxblood or navy heeled ankle boots instead. Keep make-up minimal: just add a slick of lead singer Gwen's failsafe red lipstick - I've heard that she uses MAC's Russian Red.

Fred Perry x No Doubt Collaboration: Slim Fit Shirt
 The classic slim fit shirt (£60) gets its reggae on.

What I'd style it with:
There's no question that this piece works best with trousers, but the style is fairly flexible - skintight, drop-waist with braces, capri pants or even one of this season's single-stripe trousers, seen everywhere from George at Asda to J. Crew. Just make sure you don't wear it with flares under any circumstances, or you really will be taking things too far. Instead, be playful with make-up and add liquid eyeliner in one of the reggae colours from the No Doubt stripe - red, yellow or green - before either slicking back your hair or adding a quiff.

Fred Perry x No Doubt Collaboration: Colourful Jumper
 There's a colourful but preppy edge to the v-neck sweater (£90).

What I'd style it with:
I would dress this down for daytime with a vintage calf-length skirt in a plain colour - either a 50s-style full skirt (perhaps with a petticoat) or something a little more figure-hugging from the 40s. Alternatively, tailored charcoal trousers with low-heeled court shoes or slouched boots would also work. If you wanted to accent the magenta in the pattern then now's the time to do it, as both Sonia Rykiel and 3.1 Phillip Lim are currently selling trousers in this colour.

The pieces won't be available until next year, but that isn't going to dampen the enthusiasm for many of us, especially as you can pre-register your interest online to be notified about when each product goes on sale. As with any Fred Perry range, the price point can seem prohibitive, but you are paying for a heritage label which has die-hard brand advocates from all backgrounds: it's just that some of us save up for a little bit longer than others in order to pay for that coveted laurel wreath. 

There's a whole sub-section on their website discussing emotional attachment, which is something that is much rarer with today's in-your-face labels who have to chuck special offers at you every five minutes and run re-tweet and follow competitions to get your attention. The fact that Perry has its own entire music-filled subculture, enjoyed by people of all ages, is a testament to its enduring appeal. By joining together with No Doubt, the brand has proved that it still knows what the people want.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Top 3 Illogical Celebrity Fashion and Beauty Lines of 2012

Cher Lloyd's First Fragrance
There's nothing like a celebrity scent. Who knew singers had such great olfactory skills?
[Image via Digital Spy].

Without further ado, it's time for a little 2012 review of those strange but true celebrity product launches that sometimes make you wonder if you're just having a strange dream. 2011 was the year of Myleene Klass' nail wraps, but this year these famous names excelled themselves when it came to hidden talents. 

1. Cher Lloyd's perfume - If there's one person I hope to smell like, it must surely be Cher Lloyd. Her intoxicating blend of top notes including whining, pouting and being difficult in interviews, mixed with base notes of chav and reality TV, made for a memorable combination that was bound to be a success. Apparently One Direction will be the next out of the starting blocks to conquer the market, though no word as yet whether the most prominent top note will be Harry Styles' little black book of older women or Zayn's fags. Let's just hope none of the boys watch the film Perfume and take inspiration from Ben Whishaw's dedication to the cause of a perfumier, or the Twittersphere would truly implode with underage girls offering themselves up for sacrifice.

Robbie wished his mates would be a bit more talkative sometimes.
[Image via the Daily Mirror].

2. Robbie Williams' clothing line inspired by his granddad - Those of you with a spare £500 will be pleased to know that you needn't let it burn a hole in your pocket any more. You can exchange it for a Pilot's Leather Jacket, or perhaps dip into it for a cable knit cardigan which will set you back a paltry £135 from the Farrell brand. Ok, so kudos to Robbie Williams for using quality materials in his clothing, such as lambswool, but not many a fan of Rudebox and Candy will have the disposable income to match his price points. Meanwhile, those of you who regularly drop half a grand on a jacket will probably not see Williams as a style icon. 

Made in Chelsea Star Launches Fashion Line
It Starts With An Idea (ISWAI) clearly wanted its models to be totally unique. 
These three slightly horsey looking blondes tell me that Caggie is the one on the right.
[Image via MTV].

 3. Caggie from MIC's fashion brand - Posh reality TV star Caggie Dunlop (you know, the one who hangs about with people called Binky and Hugo), is all about keeping it real, apparently. That's why she has launched a fashion line that's all about being unpretentious and involves working with upcoming designers (plebs, yah), and - according to MTV - deals with 'themes close to Caggie’s heart: New York, Rebellion, Religion, Da Vinci and The Universe'. That's right, guys, she just can't stop thinking about Leonardo Da Vinci's anatomical studies and black holes and Brian Cox, in between filming that deep thinking existential show, Made in Chelsea. If only the producers would let her have more screen time to discuss her thoughts on Stephen Hawking or perhaps to incite a current affairs debate on the issue of women bishops. Oh, and if you'd like to buy a less cerebral piece from the ISWAI collection then there's a bright pink 'Keep Calm and Caggie On' t-shirt for just £22.

I really do despair for humanity sometimes. Here's to 2013, when we should brace ourselves for yet another onslaught of stylish celebs astounding us with their entrepreneurial nous.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Photo Essay: Liberty's Christmas Windows 2012

Liberty Christmas Windows - The Dressing Room
 Liberty always has the power to make you feel glamorous, even when you're peering through the window in a decidedly unglamorous outfit and wishing yourself to jump through to the other side. 

Visual Merchandising - The Chair
 No bog-standard Ikea stool for this lady - instead there's an elegant branch/antler-inspired chair.

Liberty Christmas Mannequin
 What I love about visual merchandising is when you take a trend and exaggerate it to the hilt.
Here we have the fashionista bun, turned into an elaborate feat of hair engineering.

Liberty Christmas - Ladieswear
 Burgundy and oxblood tones look great against Christmassy silver and gold.

Liberty Visual Merchandising for Christmas
 If you hadn't guessed it by now, the theme is 'party'.

Liberty Visual Merchandising - Accessories
 One of the biggest shoe trends for this season is the flared chunky heel, worked best by Miu Miu.
It's the perfect example of seasonal excess, and it somehow works.

Liberty Christmas Window Displays 2012
 The children's window did old-fashioned festive fun with plenty of animals and books.
I loved the absence of chunky, homogenous plastic.

Liberty Christmas Visual Merchandising - Childrenswear
 There's definitely something magical about this kind of traditional Christmas.

Liberty Christmas Window Displays - Jewellery
 Obviously setting the table is slightly difficult when there's someone sitting on it.

Liberty Christmas Window Displays - Lobster
 I love this set-up - the lobster, the lightbulb, the delving under the table.
It feels eccentric and typically British (with a slight nod to Dada).

Liberty Christmas Window Displays - Seafood
 The appearance of seafood on the table shows that this isn't just about Christmas; it's the whole festive season and not just the bits with turkey in.

Liberty Christmas Visual Merchandising - Handbags
 The brilliantly subtle thing about the use of multiple sets of gloves is that it suggests buying (well, and grabbing) without seeming forceful. However, you still want to be the person clutching those bags.

I think Liberty's windows are much more understated than last year (remember the giant frogs?) but they're really effective and they combine the party excesses with the down-to-earth decor of home. Everything's warm and friendly and feels a million miles away from the 'candy cane rammed down your throat' feeling that sickly over-saturated Christmas displays can sometimes leave behind. Liberty, as always, stays classy.

Carnaby Street Christmas Decorations 2012 - It's Only Rock & Roll
[All photos my own].
P.S. After my trip to Liberty I popped along the road to see the Carnaby Street lights. They paid a fitting tribute to the Rolling Stones with the gold LPs and giant Stones tongue logo.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

How to Approach Fashion Bloggers: An Outreach Guide for PRs

 You need to stand out against the competition and be unique.
[Image my own, taken at London Fashion Week S/S13].

'Tis the season to be bombarded by PRs and marketing departments... yes, Christmas is upon us and many agencies and companies are approaching bloggers and needing their press release to be noticed. I've sat in both camps, PR/outreach and blogger, and I can safely say that it's easy to forget what it's like to be at the receiving end of your emails when you've spent ages working on a campaign and you have a never-ending list of people to contact. I totally get it. With this in mind, I've put together a few tips to make it a bit less stressful as you make your way through that blog list, and hopefully help you to achieve great results. 

1. DO make it personal

One of the laziest things you can do is to email without finding out the name of the blogger. Presumably you spent a few milliseconds/seconds/minutes looking at their posts, so it shouldn't take long to figure out their name, unless they deliberately prefer to remain anonymous. Simply writing: 'Hi, I love your great blog!' means you might as well admit that you're copying and pasting the same template email over and over again, and it doesn't matter how many kisses you put at the end to soften the impact (preferably none). Which blog do you love? Who has a bloody clue?! If you really loved their writing or photography so much then spend an extra two seconds referencing the post that caught your attention.

Most importantly, remember how annoying it is to receive post through your letterbox that's addressed to 'The Homeowner', because that's what you're effectively sending to the blogger. It's even worse if you don't even put any kind of greeting on the email at all, because that is being rude as well as being spam.

2. DON'T make us watch the party without an invite

Some PRs have an unusual strategy which is to prey on the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) culture by sending bloggers images of press launches that they were not invited to. Perhaps the target audience will be so impressed by the sheer coolness of the fashion party that they were not cool enough to attend that they will be spurred on to create a brilliant blog post about the ones who were invited? The more likely option is that they will just stare in bemusement at the sheer audacity of the PR. 

Let's put it in a scenario: the most popular girl in your school hosts a party but doesn't invite you, then asks you to help distribute her photos from the night, as you might just be lusting over what some of her chosen few guests were wearing. Madness. The difference between these events and the ones that we willingly write about without the chance of an invite (such as the Met Ball in New York) is that I know the organisers of the Met Ball are not trying to squeeze me for publicity; I can look from afar and admire, without having my face rubbed in it that I'm at home in my pyjamas. I knew I wouldn't be walking the red carpet in New York but I was happy to go along for the ride.

3. DO make sure your product is right for the blog

The scatter-gun approach of targeting contacts may get you points for enthusiasm but it doesn't get you anywhere in the long run. If you're flogging anything and everything then don't send out a press release that covers your extensive range of gifts for babies and husbands unless your bloggers write about families and marriage. Seriously, I don't care how bespoke your Christmas presents are, I cannot feasibly write about them unless I become pregnant or engaged overnight which, let's face it, would be highly unlikely on both counts (though that would be a show-stopping blog post). 

Doing that little bit of research can save you a wasted email and will allow you to stop getting distracted with the pursuit of easy targets when you should be focusing on building quality relationships with interested bloggers who you can work with again in the future. And remember, you can be more specific with your target audience, so don't aim at a die-hard vintage blogger if your client's product is brand new and smells slightly of plastic. It's okay to be picky in order to cut out all those irrelevant pitches, because you're unlikely to get a great uptake rate if you're barking up the wrong tree in the style stakes.

4. DON'T forget the geography

It's an obvious one, but you'd be surprised how many emails I receive that are geographically irrelevant to me, bearing in mind that I don't make a secret of the fact that I'm based near London. New York Fashion Week looks fantastic and I'd love to go, but inviting me with a week's notice means that there's no way I can scrape together the money for a hotel, let alone a flight, much as I'd like to accept the invitation. Closer to home, I've been invited to events on the other side of London at short notice - presumably as a last resort, I'm under no illusions here - which are basically impossible for me to get to without arriving as the last revellers are heading home. I know a lot of my peers are in the same position, wondering why they've been asked to go to a city that is hundreds of miles away without much warning, and it is much more common in the travel industry where I work, but then that comes with the territory as travel is now full of adaptable digital nomads. Fashion? We're a bit more settled.

By all means ask someone on the off-chance if they can attend your event, as you never know when people might be travelling, but be honest and admit if you know it will be out of their way ("Paris to Edinburgh? Yeah, should be a doddle. Dunno why she's making a fuss."). All it takes is a quick look at their author bio or their Twitter feed to see where they're based and then you can work out if they should be able to attend without setting out on a two-day trek to reach you.

I honestly hope these tips help to reduce some of the mad panic surrounding this time of year for those of you in PR and outreach. If you want to share your own tips or insight then get in touch, as I'd love to hear your suggestions.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Photo Essay: Selfridges' Christmas Window Displays for 2012

Kicking off Christmas at Selfridges
 Anya Hindmarch crackers and a train set kicked things off for a Selfridges-tinted Christmas.
The London windows were colourful as ever on Oxford Street.

See a time-lapse video of how they were put together by going to the official website.

Visual Merchandising with the Brand's Yellow Shade
 Their trademark yellow was used as wrapping paper for all kinds of objects (check out the sausage dog with the headphones).

2012 Window Display with a Christmassy Couple
 Even domestic set-ups have a fashionable twist.

Christmas TV 2012
 Christmas TV, Selfridges-style.

Festive Jumpers Galore
 More knitwear than you can shake a stick at.

Visual Merchandising for Children is Child's Play
 The kids are framed by a huge photobook.

Pearly King for Christmas
 It was nice to see a Pearly King getting involved.

Christmas Hampers at Selfridges
 Carrying on the patriotic vibes from their summer windows.

A Huge Shoe for Stylish Women
 A giant stiletto is big enough for Santa to be seen in.

Visual Merchandising Challenge: Working With Animals
 Everything gets a bit showgirl-esque with the horses and feather headdresses.

A Porter to Carry Your Presents
 Your presents are carried by a porter, naturally.

Kids Love the Window Displays
 A little girl is drawn to the lights.

A Giant Nutcracker for Seasonal Treats
 If you hadn't guessed yet, over-sized is the window trend of the season. Hello, giant nutcracker.

Alternative Christmas Tree with Photos
 An alternative Christmas fairy sparkles next to a photo montage tree.

Visual Merchandising for Men: Slouched, Naturally
 This man was not up for peeling sprouts.

Another Fairy for the Tree
 Another fairy hangs around the tree.

Visual Merchandising: The Giftcard
 One of the more corporate windows gave you ideas for those difficult-to-buy-for people.

The Christmas Teepee and Pizza at Selfridges
A makeshift teepee and pizza is the perfect way to greet Boxing Day, people.
[All photos my own.]
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