When it comes to fashion bloggers, you'd be hard pressed to find someone with as loyal a following as London-based Susie Bubble, founder of StyleBubble. Having come from the world of fashion magazines herself (she was formerly editor of DazedDigital.com), Susie certainly has an eye for talent and can spot a new trend from a mile away. So when it came time to decide which digital media mavens we were going to include as part of our "Virtuosos" series, reaching out to Susie Bubble was a no-brainer. Read our interview with Susie below, in which she tells us they key to running a successful blog and what she thinks about the future of print media.
WATM: Theres been a lot of talk in the blogosphere lately about the ways bloggers and microbloggers have impacted the way the fashion business has been conducted for decades. What has been the most important results of social media on the industry in your view?
SB: I don't particularly care how blogging impacts on the inner sanctum of the industry - obviously there are changes within brands, PR agencies and magazines in how they deal with blogging and microblogging but I wouldn't want to inflate the effect that they have had anyway. Some designers, brands and PR agencies can pretend blogs don't exist and still function as per normal. What I'm probably most concerned with is how the wider public, (on the basis that everyone can read a fashion blog) engages with fashion. Does it change their perception, the things they buy, their understanding? Does it even perhaps convert them to fashion because blogs supposedly represent a more "accessible" voice? I love getting comments from people who say they had no interest in fashion before and don't really understand what I'm writing about but are intrigued enough to come back day after day. I think there's something to be said about sharing your interest with people who may not be as passionate about it as you are but still find a common ground.
WATM: What do you see as the key to your success? And the key to being a successful blogger in general?
SB: I don't really have an idea. I don't really fit into the normal mold of a successful fashion blogger if you think about it. I'm not a streetstyle photographer (let's face of it, when we talk about famous fashion bloggers, we normally turn to streetstyle blogs). I'm not really a hardcore personal style blogger in the sense of devoting the blog to oneself and lifestyle. I don't really have a consistent stream of subject matter either. I could be blogging about a shop opening then going into the studio of a designer and then making a crap collage of stuff I like. In general, I suppose I lean towards informing people through what I have seen. Personal experience of fashion is very important to me so I try to convey that when I'm seeing an exhibition, a shop, an event or trying on clothes. For me, the blogs that I admire all tend to have unique content, content they have created themselves be it photography, a unique written point of view and aesthetics in selecting/presenting imagery and then maintaining that over a long period of time.
WATM: How do you make money?
SB: Through freelance writing mainly at the moment which will come as a surprise. Writing copy or guest blogs can be fairly lucrative. I do also do one-off projects with brands such as working with Smythson for their catalogue that can run the gamut of guest styling, modeling, editing, consulting or writing
I haven't fully explored monetizing the blog through advertorial posts that go beyond display ads (which I also run for UK traffic only) but I'm not particularly ambitious when it comes to making Style Bubble into its own profiteering entity. I like doing a lot of things that may not be visible on the blog and then using the blog as my 'fun' outlet.
WATM: Do you think that as bigger brands start embracing the blogosphere more and more it will be possible for more bloggers to make their living blogging? Or is blogging just a conduit to get consulting gigs, speaking engagements, and other types of paid assignments from brands?
SB: I don't completely advise turning blogging into a full time job. That comes with a pressure of maintaining traffic, hustling and generally competing with other media properties out there which might have an adverse effect on the blogging. I suppose I have gone down the route of having the blog as a calling card for other projects but again, that isn't something I'd advise for people if they don't want to multi-task and do a host of different things in the industry. Of course, it is all the more possible now but what if brands start to twig and stop feeding bloggers with projects/collaborations and instead create their own media outlets (which has started to happen anyway...) and media sensations (DKNY PR girl for instance)? That is why I have concentrated on writing as I don't see one-off projects/collaborations as a fully sustainable route and I'm not sure I want to continue doing them for the sole sake of making money anyway - sometimes, these projects can be all buzz and no real teeth, which is why I tend to be quite selective with who I work with and what I do.
WATM: What role do you play in this relationship between brands and blogs?
SB: I don't necessarily think ALL brands should develop content but it's whether that content can be compelling enough to a wide audience that then impacts on sales. I think it's interesting that publishing houses are partnering up with brands to create this content (Dazed Group for instance does Nowness for LVMH) and I think this is where it could be quite interesting as it gives a survival route for fashion publishing, which has had a difficult time in the recession. When we say "use social media well", we need to differentiate between brands on Twitter, Facebook, interacting with bloggers etc....Marc Jacobs, Proenza Schouler, DKNY and Oscar de la Renta do well on Twitter (for some reason, my good Twitter list is predominantly American - something to analyze there...). On a smaller scale, I love figures like Henry Holland who promote brand and himself well whilst being really funny! Burberry has been great on Facebook. I like Dolce & Gabbana for collectively tweeting from three different accounts and engaging people via Swide.com. Prada may not have a Twitter account but they do a great job of maintaining good relationships with bloggers that isn't about mass emailing but about picking the right bloggers for them. The same goes for Chanel.
It's weird though that social media doesn't have to play into it at all for some people - look at Christopher Kane - NO WEBSITE, no Twitter/Facebook of any sort and his business is thriving on a massive network of stockists and he scoops accolades and great press all the time.
WATM: Weve all gotten used to Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, etc What new technologies or apps have caught your eye?
SB: Wrong person to ask! I don't even have an iPhone. Somebody laughed at me for having a Blackberry the other day. So sue me. I have Game Boy fingers and I type faster on a Blackberry. I'm not very good at keeping up with apps and other bits and bobs....
WATM: Youve worked at an editor at print magazine just as blogs and digital content were on the rise. How did the rise of online editorial impact the fashion print media, in your view?
SB: I started at Dazed Digital just as it was about to relaunch. It had existed in a sort of Alpha phase and I actually think Dazed were very early to start to their own website in comparison to other style titles in the UK. For Dazed, it was very important that the website lives as its own entity but in tune with the magazine, giving speed and content to spill over from the pages as space is limited. I always thought it should be a fluid relationship where both help each other out. When I was at Dazed, there was a feeling that the website was inferior to the magazine and that it wasn't as important. This has now changed and instead of website relying on magazine, they can now both be equally profitable and serve their purpose - one is for creating that constant stream of content that couldn't possibly fit the pages as well as bringing the magazine to a wider world and the magazine is for that very special content that a website wouldn't have access to as well as bringing photographic editorials that I still think can't see existing on a website in the way they do on pages.
WATM: Do you think the immediacy of the blogosphere has diminished the power of the traditional print editor? Which magazines use online platforms well in your opinion and why?
SB: NO! This is the sort of question that was being asked three years ago and my answer back then was still no. If anything hasn't the blogosphere made an even bigger emphasis on print editors? Look at the prolific coverage of people like Taylor Tommasi Hill, Carine Roitfeld, Anna dello Russo. Dello Russo has now been encouraged to extend her influence on the web too now with her very own blog. Blogs and print editors can converge and cover both mediums. They are not two separate nemeses. One can empower the other and actually it has become a two-way relationship whereby print has made certain bloggers fairly powerful by covering them - like the US Vogue shoot that featured Bryanboy, Tommy Ton, Hanneli etc. The magazine websites I like currently are of course Dazed Digital (duh....!) just for its breadth of content and coverage of new designers and AnotherMag.com has really improved since the new editor Laura Bradley joined, Vogue.com (US) for its layout and LAAAAARGE images, Self Service's website because it's fairly simple and Twin magazine's website shows how a biannual can live beyond the two issues a year. Because magazine is affiliated with Tank but is presenting video content in a unique way too.
WATM: Are magazines still necessary in your view? Why? Which do you read regularly?
SB: Of course! They set the agenda in terms of photography and directional fashion as well as detailed features. I don't need magazines for information on new releases, products etc but I need it for the exclusive written stories. Someone like Tom Ford will probably only give a few interviews to a few publications and to keep myself informed, it's important that I read them. Then on an inspiration level, I still think editorials live on paper much better than they do on the web. There's very little joy in my going on to Fashion Gone Rogue or The Fashion Spot and seeing them there. The magazines I buy regularly are Vogue (UK, French), Elle (UK), Dazed, i-D, 10, Nylon and then I'll pick at the bi-annuals like Gentlewoman, Pop Love, Lula etc. I also like Industrie for the depth of interviews they do.
WATM: Ive heard that youre an intrepid foodie.. Whats your favorite restaurant right now?
SB: Ducksoup in Soho London! Really amazing ingredients prepared with love and care. The lamb chops there are insanely good.
WATM: What trends are you looking forward to for SS12?
SB: Unabashed girliness, pastels and shimmery shiny stuff.
WATM: What shows are you looking forward to for AW12?
SB: I can't really pick favorites. I see over 140 shows/presentations - I like to take it all in.
WATM: Favorite city to shop?
WATM: What's your favorite thing to do on a day off?
WATM: What do you want for Christmas?
SB: For Arsenal football club to get a magical bonus ten points in the Premier League. And a pair of Prada rose-drop earrings.