What does it take to be a fashion blogger in Pakistan? Well, basically a body, clothes to dress it and a smartphone. Obviously, it goes without saying that the better your body, your clothes and your phone, the higher you will be ranked as a fashion blogger. Throw in trendy shoes and bags and consider yourself at the top of the food chain. You may know how to write, but it’s not a life skill in the world of fashion blogging; who reads anyway? One picture of a pretty young thing in high heels and wearing high-end fashion is worth a thousand words. Captions – optional.
Despite a degree in journalism and two decades of experience with newspapers and magazines, some people only know me as a fashion blogger, which I was insulted at initially, but then I started to take it as a compliment. After all, a two-and-a-half-week old blogger will make more money, get better show seats, perks, free gifts, goodies and foreign trips than most journalists would these days. Of course, it would have helped had I been younger, fitter and richer but then age and experience give me one small advantage over most Millennials: I usually know what I’m doing and have the patience to see it through.
I don’t mind sharing my wisdom. So here’s fashion blogging 101.
No matter what the brand tells you, there is no such thing as a free lunch, lawn outfit or foreign trip. Those big ugly boxes of gifts that you don’t use (or maybe you do) always come with a small note listing the several hashtags you are asked to incorporate “when posting”. Whatever you will be gifted will be evaluated against the promotion you give. In other words, you will be evaluated on the basis of the kind of attention your ‘thank you’ post gets the brand. And here is when you have to be discerning. Keeping the cost of your post in mind, see if it’s even worth the effort. Then (and here is the important part) always add a hashtag that specifies that your post is sponsored.
Come summer and you start receiving enough free joras to dress your entire family – but you are expected to have the outfit styled and turn up for the launch. Some brands will be so kind to style it and stitch it up for you. But stop and think. You are a fashion blogger because you have an individual sense of style (hopefully); why would you want to look like Little Bo Beep walking into a lawn garden party? Why would you want to look like everyone else? Make your own selection, style the outfit yourself and if nothing appeals to you, then learn to gasp say no. Don’t compromise on your own brand identity to establish someone else’s. Sometimes it really isn’t worth it.
Gorgeous, stunning and spectacular may be your favourite adjectives but remember that not everything you see at a show or exhibition is gorgeous, stunning or spectacular. Be honest, be fair to your followers. And if you have to be fair to your advertisers as well, then at least be specific in what you are praising. Maybe a certain outfit isn’t all that stunning but the colour combination, a motif or even a silhouette catches your fancy. Worse case scenario: “so and so looked great,” is always a safe line. Models and celebrities can make the worst outfits look great. Just don’t lie. It really isn’t that complicated.
Aamna Haider Isani is Editor, Instep (The News) and Publisher and Editor-in-Chief,Something Haute. firstname.lastname@example.org