Every so often I open myself up a bit, expose my vulnerabilities and show the world who I really am.
Today is not one of those days! But it is the day that Racked is talking about fanblogs — and guess who got interviewed for the story? This story is centered on Ikea’s recent poorly thought-out (though not surprising for a European-based company) decision to send a cease & desist letter to Ikea Hackers, which is about as tasteless as it gets for consumerist freedom of expression. It’s like they said, Hey Customers! We know you love us. But don’t you dare talk about us without our permission or super-controlled messaging, and how dare you try to make sure you make enough money to cover the effort?
As most of you here know I’ve been working as a technology contractor for the last year and a half, doing social media and specialized visual design projects for large fashion and retail companies. Right now I work for the charity arm of a large multi-arm fashion company and it’s bliss. I’ve seen brands from basic all the way up to highest luxury that clearly get it — it being the nature of the game of working with style and shopping bloggers. At the highest luxury level brands have become much more curious about working with bloggers and doing social outreach which is good news for everyone. The more we can see products in less produced, more realistic photos, the better. Better for shopping and perhaps better for body image and self-esteem. From a consumerist perspective of course; I realize the superficiality of it all! A year ago I sat in a meeting with a very high-end brand as they looked over photos of style bloggers that had paid for this brand’s item themselves and the brand was making fun of more than half the bloggers. I wanted to take off my cashmere white glove and slap them silly from across the conference table. My blood was boiling! Some brands just don’t get it. Some brands would rather ignore or silence blog voices as if the customer isn’t smart enough to figure out quality issues or fit issues or pricing issues. That’s insulting. Working with blogs is a free organic way or comparatively inexpensive way to grow a brand’s customer base. Brands with their heads in the sand, pretending that anything can be ‘exclusive’ in the age of the Internet are completely out of touch with the way modern consumers think and spend.
There are of course many different levels of working with a blogger, just as there is with any ‘personality.’ I certainly delight in being able to Google just about any item of clothing or accessory that I’m interested in buying and finding a photo of someone that wore it, be it a celebrity or a blogger or whoever. This helps in sizing and quality guidance for my shopping decisions. Yes, some style blogger editorials are eye-rollingly obnoxious. So are some celebrity editorials, so are some fashion magazine editorials, so are many advertisements that brands spend millions on.
Just to clarify a bit on my relationship with Anthropologie, EA has NO professional relationship with Anthropologie. I am not employed by them, they do not send me any free items, I do not have a discount, they are professional and courteous and fun to work with but mostly they just ignore me. If I want to do a contest with them I have to pitch it just like anyone else would. I am aware that they send bloggers free items on a very limited basis and I have no expectation of that for EA. The NYC Anthropologie store employees, managers and personal shoppers have always treated me well, often setting aside the largest fitting room for me and allowing me to try on 20+ items in a single store visit. I truly believe that’s more because I buy a lot there than anything! I’m not a fool though — if they whipped open the doors to the Soho Anthro and offered me whatever I want for free of course I’d say yes! (They’d never do that.) SAs often email me tips and try to keep the community informed about policies, events and promos. That’s so cool! The home office doesn’t give me advance notice about pretty much anything, though in rare instances they’ll give me a heads up about a collaboration or special event. Usually right around my birthday I start dreaming about them mailing me a $1,000 gift card, but that never happens. Never will either.
And that’s the way it should be! Anthro is very smart in that they have a social media team, one of whom is my contact within their home office. They are kind enough to keep me informed about NYC-area events and really that’s my main demand. I think it’s terribly unfair when they hold events here that I’m not invited to because I lose the chance to keep the community informed. But that hasn’t been an issue in years now.
Anthropologie didn’t comment for the Racked story, but I’m sure that if they did it would be something along the lines of We appreciate all of our customers as expressive women and truly enjoy seeing the different ways customers style our pieces! We tolerate Effortless Anthropologie as a strong community of Anthropologie lovers and wish roxy all the best. (Or something along those lines. Then they’d plug their official blog.)
The truth is that Anthropologie cares much more about YOU, the community. This blog holds value for Anthro because they can come here and read about what Anthropologie customers are thinking, are buying, are liking and not liking. I have no desire to become a ‘brand’ myself. I just want to talk about a brand I like with other people who like it! This blog is also a fantastic portfolio piece for me that helps me land jobs, aka the stuff that pays my rent. So yes it is a business and I need to earn a certain amount of money each month to pay the bills associated with running this blog, writing it and buying clothing to talk about, and especially to justify the time I spend working on the blog. (It’s a lot of time.) But mostly I feel very lucky and in love with the group of people that comes here, chats about Anthro and has spawned some lovely offline friendships.
So cheers to Anthropologie as a brand that gets it! For the companies that do not, it’s truly their loss.