Sartorial Word: Fashion’s social media equation

Social media reporting is on a roll and it’s obvious why — the internet is easily accessible.


March 22, 2014
Aamna Haider Isani started her blog, somethinghaute.wordpress.com in March 2010. Amara Javed started her blog, pink255.com in May 2010. Mehreen Syed started her blog, desibeautyblog.com in January 2014.

KARACHI:


The world has become a social media circus and fashion even more so. Over the past few years, a brand new avenue has sprung up for featuring the latest trends and fashion events: blogs, Facebook pages and the incessant chatter of an ever-growing band of fashion Twitterati.


The internet lays opinions completely out in the open, criticism can put people off a designer, bring down sales, and, to give a recent example, create furore that caused British designer Paul Smith to acknowledge that his Robert sandal has been ‘inspired’ by the Pakistani Peshawari chappal.


Zunera Mazhar started her blog, zunera-serena.com in May 2013.

That’s the power social media wields. Nowadays bloggers enjoy fan followings abroad and locally, it’s no wonder that fashion personalities like model Mehreen Syed have jumped on board with her ‘Desi Beauty’ blog featuring celebrity experts, such as Hassan Sheheryar Yasin and Shammal Qureshi.

There are seats allotted specially to bloggers at fashion weeks and multi-nationals plan out ‘bloggers meets’ from time to time.

Social media reporting is on a roll and it’s obvious why. The internet is economical, easily accessible and delivers instant results.

As opposed to print where space is limited, images of entire fashion showcases can be uploaded on the net. And we all know that a picture can speak a thousand words, especially when it comes to the latest fashions.

And yet, the rise of social media comes with its pitfalls. There are no checks and balances over a blog in the form of a proper editing body as there is at printed publications. An inexperienced fashion enthusiast discredits the fashion industry when he or she launches into unnecessary criticism or sycophancy.


Salima Feerasta started her blog, karachista.com in March 2013.

The distractions are many for the unseasoned blogger which is why most of them fall by the wayside and never gather more than a few hits on their posts. The allure of freebies and invitations to exclusive parties, the chance to garner fame just by lauding the ‘it’ designers and revel in the glitz and glamour of fashion weeks.

With a growing online audience and advertisements allowing blogging to become profitable, it is important that bloggers become more ethical in relaying information.

“Social media can’t be ignored in this day and age,” asserts Aamna Haider Isani, editor-in-chief of OK! Pakistan. “If bloggers just act as PR machinery for designers, then they are no better than i-messengers. Until social media becomes more responsible, one can enjoy it, but not take it too seriously.”


Batur Muhammad started his blog, wtfbybatur.wordpress.com in June 2013.

Aamna, in fact, is also a blogger, but her status as a senior journalist in Pakistan adds credibility to whatever she writes in print — as well as on the internet.

So why is it that some bloggers are able to express an opinion and be considered credible (pictured) and countless others can't? Ex-journalist and country head at GolinHarris Pakistan, Fareshteh Aslam says, “The rise of bloggers is fantastic for anyone who equates a pat on the back with journalism. That has never been the job description of a journalist. Now that the internet has empowered bloggers, they need to apply all the research and self-edit capabilities that are the hallmark of a credible writer. On a long-term basis, things are bound to even out. Uninformed opinions can never hold weight although they may act as great publicity mechanisms in the short run.”


Faiza Lakhani started her blog, secretcloset.pk in June 2012.

Publicity, then, is the greatest service that social media provides. PR maven Frieha Altaf recalls the interest generated just by the yearly lawn images that she uploaded on the net for her clients Sana Safinaz.

Fashion retailer Zahir Rahimtoola has recently taken on blogger Zunera Mazhar as the brand ambassador for his store Labels. “Blogging is very personal; it allows readers to identify more easily with trends. It works brilliantly as a promotional tool, which is why Labels also has its own blog. We cover current happenings and the latest collections in our stores. The feedback is immediate,” he says. “That being said, a blog works well on a superficial level – for now, the real analysis and brand building comes from print.”



Faiza Lakhani of the Secret Closet fashion portal observes, “Detailed, well-thought-out blogs and articles benefit the fashion industry by instantly providing consumers access to new collections, insight into the designers’ thinking process for their creations and a better understanding of prevailing global and local trends that they would wish to add to their wardrobe.”

“In return, the industry can benefit from the diverse set of opinions and reviews that the audience gives and such feedback, if used positively, can go a long way in helping the industry mature further. Instant access to a large audience through the digital realm will lead to informed choices by the consumers and encourage healthy competition between designers,” she further says.

But is analysis from an inexperienced eye worth its salt or does it end up misguiding readers? Wardha Saleem, CEO of the Fashion Pakistan Council, bearing in mind the print and online coverage of the recent Fashion Pakistan Week in mind, explains, “When something is incorrectly reported on blogs or on Twitter, designers can at least directly interact with the writer and ask for corrections. Mistakes made in print can’t be altered as easily. The internet definitely creates greater awareness of the latest fashions, but online coverage is more short term.”

“Print has greater recall value and serves as a historical record. Credibility, though, varies from writer to writer. A designer slaves over a collection and it is disheartening when it is criticised unnecessarily whether online or in print. It is important that all writers, bloggers as well as journalists, get their facts right before they cover an event. Genuine critique is what matters,” she adds.

It is genuine critique that will always make a difference and is what local fashion needs right now to become a bigger, better force. Both journalists and bloggers can do with refraining from baseless criticism and senseless flattering odes, although they may win writers their fifteen minutes of fame. This is a delicate balance that few have achieved so far, whether they blog or have a printed publication to their credit.

Maliha Rehman is a fashion and lifestyle journalist with an obsessive, compulsive need to write. Log on for more updates on Twitter @maliharehman.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 23rd, 2014.

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COMMENTS (2)

Ahsan Khan | 7 years ago | Reply Its not a fashion Its called vulgarity in the name of Fashion .. Pakistan is an Islamic State So Please for God Sake be like a Muslim ..
Ali | 7 years ago | Reply

Just promoting the worst blogs ever except Amana Haider's blog as she knows how to blog on internet. I know this comment is not going to be published but seriously stop this favor journalism now.

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