In a world dominated by the media, these days it can feel like it’s very much a woman’s world when it comes to the fashion industry, but is this the case? Female fashion bloggers find fame and fortune in blogging and modelling whilst men have remained relatively anonymous in the same arena, at least up to now. The reason for this isn’t all that clear – research shows that many designers, writers and photographers are male, and whilst women may make up the majority of art and designer undergraduates, almost 40% of students were male, showing that young men aren’t being put off a career in fashion and design.
We’re seeing a real shift in attitude when it comes to the menswear fashion industry, with more and more style conscious men establishing their fashion blogs, the foundations of which have been laid product-focus trends and designer collections that command our attention, however, despite this the majority of ‘style sites’ out there are still geared towards the women’s fashion industry. Men’s Fashion Week still doesn’t seem to get as much coverage as the other ‘female’ orientated fashion events, and with the abundance of women blogging their outfits on an hourly, daily and weekly basis, the potential for a menswear audience and presence gaining the same recognition pales in comparison.
Perception plays a huge role in the male orientated fashion industry, for a whole host of reasons. Many stereotypes for a ‘man’ taking an active interest in fashion seem to be halting the progress of this industry; for some it can be deemed “emasculating” or feminine to enjoy the purchasing of a garment, the design features or particular photography of an item of clothing, so going one step further to document their opinions, thoughts and views online can seem like brave move, and for many, not what you’d ‘expect’ from a real man.
So, we asked a few bloggers out there what they thought about the state of play, here’s what they had to say…
Colin Chapman, fashion journalist and editor of Sharpened Lead:
“I’ve blogging since it emerged as a platform, I liked the idea of self-publishing, but initially I was blogging about clubs, dance music, my travels and fashion was always there but in the mix. I started Sharpened Lead about the same time that the big photo blogs like The Sartorialist were emerging, and decided to hone in on men’s fashion but I’ve always been writing-based.
People are very disturbed by the word ‘fashion’, when I mention it to people I don’t already know, sometimes you can see they are starting to worry I’m going to judge what they are wearing, or be able to offer them random advice.
There are so many rules about men’s clothing, who can wear what, what can’t be worn; it’s a very rule-based culture. It still amazes me that in 2013, men wearing anything deemed ‘androgynous’ will end up in The Daily Mail as a headline.
Twice I’ve attended the IFB (Independent Fashion Bloggers) conference in New York. The first time I was one of two male bloggers amongst literally hundreds of women, the last time I was the only one, there was literally no representation of menswear at all, even though New York has a few highly respected menswear blogs.
London has a slightly healthier blogging scene amongst both male and female bloggers and writers, we all know each other and its very sociable at London Collections: Men. Some of the female bloggers like to attend as well, as it’s such an exciting time for menswear and a lot of the designs are unisex.
I think fashion just isn’t such an aspirational career for most men, there’s a stigma attached to being overly interested in what you wear, women don’t have this fear to contend with and there are some strong female role models in blogging
Tom Keeler, fashion and lifestyle blogger over at Daydream in Blue, agrees:
“I have indeed noticed a number difference between male and female fashion bloggers. The numbers do seem to be rising for male fashion/beauty bloggers but it is much more common to see women writing on those topics.
The fashion/beauty industry is a predominantly female focused one and this is reflected in the numbers of bloggers writing on it. I feel only more recently has it been deemed more ‘acceptable’ for men to take a keen interest in what they wear.”
David Evans, member of the Guardian Fashion Bloggers Network and editor over at Grey Fox, weighs in:
“There seems to be many, many times more female bloggers than male – and older male bloggers are almost non-existent, until Grey Fox appeared. I suppose women are generally more interested in fashion and blogging has become something of an obsession among many younger women.
Older bloggers naturally write more about age-related issues because the fashion world tends to ignore older men and women, so that naturally becomes an issue to write about. Youth will affect writing style as well – simply because of generational differences in writing style, ability and grammar. Exposure to popular culture differs as well and affects outlook and style of presentation.”
Joseph Kent, street style photographer over at UnlimitedbyJK, agrees with David:
“Women dominate the fashion blog community. I am often the only male blogger at many events I attend. I find that most men don’t have the same inclination as women to flaunt what they are wearing, or to review other people’s outfits. I suppose it is something to do with gender psychology.
I have often been asked which of the two I prefer. As a man, I have a more personal interest in photographing menswear, but women come across better in front of my camera. Women have so many different body shapes and styles of fashion in comparison with men.
It is now often a case of body language as much as the outfit. I enjoy photographing people who look confident in what they are wearing. Quirky details in their garments also attract my attention.”
Jefferson Pires, photographer and blogger over at SchoolboyCouture, gives his opinion:
“I’ve always been a follower of blogs online. My bookmarks bar is pretty much dominated by blogs. I find they offer an unbiased view on topics ranging from art and technology to fashion and are not tainted by the advertisers that dictate huge publications. My day job was not fulfilling my creative needs so I started a blog as a way to channel my creative energies. At first I blogged on a wide variety of topics but this has now been narrowed down to menswear and lifestyle topics with emphasis on original content and photography.
Blogging has definitely opened a lot of doors for me. In the beginning it was hard to get anyone’s attention but over the years I have been fortunate enough to work with some of the biggest names in the menswear and lifestyle industry such as Leica, Mr.Porter, Billionaire Boys Club and events such as Jacket Required, which is London based menswear tradeshow. I tend to help manage their Social Media platforms. I have also started blogging for some London based stores which has been fantastic.
There is definitely a stereotype when it comes to bloggers. And this isn’t often a positive one. But once they see my work it definitely helps dispel any preconceived notions and I only blog about products that I would spend my hard earned money on. I feel that there are a lot of bloggers who write about anything that comes their way which I find often lacks any form of passion in their work. If you love something it shows.”
Peter, who blogs on all things fashion and lifestyle over at Send A Raven, shares his experiences:
“I bought a camera and loved looking at street style shots so started taking my own. It proved harder than expected though so I started concentrating on articles and the writing side of it. When people started showing an interested I carried on with it.
Maybe some older blokes I know but most younger friends or people around my age I know are all really into clothes and looking good. It’s more just about having an interest and writing about that I guess, whether it’s clothes, style, or eating chips, as long as you’re into it then it’s a good thing.
(I enjoy) making a post look aesthetically good and showing a good product in a good light. And free stuff! Finding out about a brand and how they make their products is interesting but free clothes are very good.”
It’s clear that men’s fashion has come a long way in recent years, pushing boundaries and challenging the ‘norm’ to change the way we, as consumers, view fashion and stereotypes. From outlandish fantasy costuming to androgynous models, the runway shows help to define fashion and culture for much of the younger generation and create a world where men are free to express themselves without being labelled or put in a box.
While we wait for the core of the fashion industry to catch up a little, it’s down to bloggers to keep pushing for more exposure and show the world that fashion is something to be celebrated by all genders, creeds and style guru’s alike.
You have heard from the bloggers but what do you think? Keep up with them by taking a look at our most recent trends.
Read more fashion blogging opinions over at Pause Mag