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April 22, 2014, 4:44 p.m.
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   April 22, 2014

That’s the claim of Pulitzer-winning critic Robin Givhan in a piece at New York:

These fashion guerillas hoisted their digital cameras, their iPhones, and their iPads aloft in order to capture the drama on the runway — and its environs — and transmit it directly to their followers. They live-blogged and they tweeted and they initiated a real-time conversation where once only silence existed. The first generation of bloggers, such as Bryan Yambao, Susanna Lau, Tavi Gevinson, and Scott Schuman were contrarians. In their words and images, there was an earnest and raw truth that did not exist in traditional outlets. They had unique points of view and savvy marketing strategies. They had a keen awareness of how technology could help them attract the attention of hundreds of thousands of like-minded fashion fans who had been shut out of the conversation…

Slowly, the legacy media fought back. Editors went on the offensive. Glamour editor Cindi Leive, Lucky’s Eva Chen, Joe Zee (formerly of Elle), Nina Garcia of Marie Claire — the very people who once were envied for their front-row view of fashion week — were now tapping out quips and bon mots to all who would listen. Legacy editors began watching the runway from the backside of their iPhone cameras as they shared their up-close views with the virtual world. Critics, instead of reserving their droll commentary for post-show dinner patter, now spewed it fast and succinctly on Twitter.

I note this not because fashion criticism is a particular interest of mine (just look at me!), but because it’s an instance of a well worn cycle: Slow incumbents leave room for insurgent newcomers. Some insurgent newcomers get co-opted and join incumbents. Others lose interest. Incumbents learn from the newcomers, and the advantages of the new class get blunted. Reminds me a lot of what we saw with political blogging in the early-to-mid 2000s, for instance: Some got hired by Big Media, others got bored, others provided the roadmap for older outlets to start their own political blogs. And then the cycle repeats when a new wave comes along.

The Establishment…will not give up ground easily. And mostly, newcomers are drawn to fashion, not because they are determined to change it, but because they are mesmerized by it. They want to be the next Anna Wintour — not make her existence obsolete. They love fashion. And fashion loves them back. Then swallows them whole.

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