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Dressed to kill (and make a killing)

In 2008, Chicago-based Tavi Gevinson was only 11 years old when she started The Style Rookie, an online fashion blog that featured outfits, posts and editorials related to the fashion industry. A year later, everyone from the Chanel creative head, Karl Lagerfeld to Miuccia Prada knew who Gevinson was. Lady Gaga described her as the “future of journalism”. In August 2012, Gevinson started Rookie, an online magazine on fashion, art and adolescent social issues.


Masoom Minawala, a fashion blogger, enrolled for a short fashion business course at London’s Central Saint Martins last year before starting her e-store Style Fiesta in November 2012.  Pic/Satyajitt Desai

Closer home, too, fashion and lifestyle bloggers have taken blogging to the next, professional level. Have impeccable fashion sense? See the world through rose-tinted (and fashionable) glasses, set up a blog and get down to some seriouse-business.


Gia Kashyap, dressed in the Clementine blazer from her online e-store, Paperlillie

Humble beginnings
Two months ago, 22 year-old Gia Kashyap of the blog Gia Says That (.com) started her standalone e-store called Paperlillie (.com), which sells everything from apparel to jewellery. Kashyap, whose vintage blazers and neon jewellery instantly stand out on her website, says she knew little about fashion blogs — forget e-stores — when she first decided to do something about her love for all things fashion. “In 2010, when I was in college, all I knew was that I needed a platform to project my personal style.


Sarika Nagdeo, a first year BMM student recently purchased a burgundy blazer from Styledrv for Rs 1,800 Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

 

I only knew about YouTube back then. I loved watching fashion and beauty videos there and started my own YouTube channel that had various beauty videos.” However, she soon found editing videos daunting and launched Gia Says That (.com) in 2010. “It was not easy initially, but I held on. It took almost four months for people to comment on my style and gradually, I began getting a lot of traffic on my blog.”

Blogging, however, never paid Kashyap’s bills, whereas an e-store will, she says. “I didn’t make money as a blogger, and worked full-time as a graphic designer. It is not as easy as it seems,” smiles Kashyap. She adds that setting up a clothesline was a long-nurtured dream. “So, after a year of blogging successfully, starting an e-store was a natural choice.” Kashyap says her e-store not only showcases pieces that express individual style and judgment but also sells vintage blazers and neon jewellery that sell out instantly.”

From past-time to business
Twenty year-old fashion blogger Masoom Minawala took her dream of starting an e-store to the next level by enrolling at Central Saint Martins at London, last year for a short course in Fashion Business. In November 2012, Minawala set up Style Fiesta (.com), an e-store which specialises in exclusive, customised pieces and clothes, shoes and jewellery she picks up during her trips abroad.  Minawala, who came across the idea of fashion blogging during a research assignment at her internship in French Connection India in 2010. “I liked the idea of fashion blogging. It’s just not about wearing good clothes and posting great pictures onlinE — it is about creating a niche for yourself, a world of your own. Setting up an e-store, however, is even more challenging. I decided to study before launching the e-store because of the layers and technicalities involved in it. Also, the market in India is so different. I had to pay special attention to the products and styling.”

Solo? Not yet
Some fashion bloggers, including Aayushi Bangur, the 22 year-old economics graduate who started her blog Styledrv (.com) in November 2010, say they got lucky when money starting coming in thanks to the blog itself. Heavy online traffic and multiple page views, says Bangur, always attract public relations executives, which is always helpful in making a quick buck through the blog. Online search engines, too, help bloggers earn revenue by showing relevant and engaging ads alongside the content, which further helps advertisers market their brand on your blog, she adds. “I read a lot of international blogs before setting up mine. Within months, there were many advertisers who wanted to place their ads on my blog. Public relations executives approached me and I did a number of impartial product reviews for various brands.”  Setting up her own e-store seemed too daunting a task to Bangur. So, in September 2012 she collaborated with Spring-Break Boutique in Bandra who stock her designs. “Setting up an e-store is painstaking. I have to sift through the trends and come up with key pieces in fashion at the moment. I go shopping for everything from the fabric to the buttons. I even sketch, to be sure of what exactly I want in a look.” 

It’s personal
What really works for customers of e-stores launched by bloggers is sheer exclusivity. Sarika Nagdeo, a first year BMM student from MMK College and a rather pleased customer, says she loves the concept of blog shops. “I love blog shops and e-stores set up by bloggers because they are cheaper than boutiques and very exclusive. So, you won’t be wearing the same stuff that ten others around you sport. The burgundy blazer that I got from Styledrive is not only unique but also has a vintage look to it. I got it for only Rs 1800; the same blazer at a high street store like Zara and Forever New could have cost me anything between Rs 4000-Rs5000 .”

According to Sandhya Gorthi, owner of Sanctum Boutique in Santacruz, what sets e-stores apart from regular stores is their strong sense of individuality. Their designs speak for themselves and the audience like that positivity and confidence in a design. “Bloggers have a very strong language and know where they come from. What’s amazing is that they make you believe that you are one of them and that you can achieve the same things if you try. I stock a lot of pieces from bloggers. They are always sold out instantly.”

Thirty year-old Dipika Vijay, a jewellery blogger, stocks her collection in Bombay Electric, Atosa and Sanctum. “It is great to have a good store stock your products. If you have talent, you will be taken seriously,” she believes.

Does this mean bloggers are all set to influence fashion trends? Pria Agni, fashion stylist, disagrees, “I don’t think bloggers can influence or change the fashion sphere. They all look the same and do the same thing. They don’t have adequate knowledge of the field. It’s good that they have a million followers but do they ‘cater’ to a million fashion followers?”  Whatever be the case, by the looks of it, the business of blogging is a great alternative for start-ups. You can love them, you can hate them, but you can’t ignore them.

Who wants to be a fashion blogger?
> Always stay true to yourself— the more you try to imitate, the less true you are to your audience
> Have a plan, know your strengths and weaknesses
> Invest in a good camera. High quality pictures are always an advantage
> To start your own e-store, have a theme and know your target audience
> Know what you want to be known as, and design your website accordingly

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