The Fashion Blogosphere: Top Two Blogs to Watch in 2014

The fashion blogosphere is massive and there are so many amazing sites to search for style inspiration and DIY fashion tips, but I’ve narrowed my favourites down to two. These are Stylingo, a joint effort from Coventry girls Claire and Lauren and ELN Fashion, run by Ebony Nash, from Lancaster.

First published by The Huffington Post, 6th February 2014

I guess I’m feeling a little jaded when it comes to fashion mags. The shiny pages and the promise of cool stuff to cut out and stick on my outfit inspiration board just aren’t enticing me like they used to. It might have something to do with my diminishing interest in celebrity gossip or being bombarded with straight girl sex tips or because I’m at loath to support publications that continue to employ the services of an alleged sex offender (Vogue, Harpers Bazar, i-D and W magazine still hire Terry Richardson), but I’ve decided to switch from mags to blogs.

The fashion blogosphere is massive and there are so many amazing sites to search for style inspiration and DIY fashion tips, but I’ve narrowed my favourites down to two. These are Stylingo, a joint effort from Coventry girls Claire and Lauren and ELN Fashion, run by Ebony Nash, from Lancaster.

Ebony interned for ELLE magazine in 2012 and quickly realised that unpaid internships in London are only for those with serious cash. She told me that unlike fashion internships, “blogging is completely what you make of it. If you get your sh*t together and commit to your blog like it’s your job, you’re going to see benefits from it – be that new experiences or even job offers”. She cites blogging as the perfect creative outlet that allows her to write about her own interests and add cheeky celeb satire pieces if she feels that someone has behaved or dressed particularly outrageously (she’s looking at you, Miley Cyrus).

It made sense for the Stylingo girls to join forces and use their blog to recommend or slate products and mount their soap boxes to write lifestyle features. They reckon that variety is key, paring “hilarious posts alongside serious thought-provoking hard hitting pieces of journalism (i.e which lipstick lasts the longest) – so that you get something new every day”.

The most attractive thing about fashion blogs is their individuality. The world of fashion can be very homogenous and exclusive and to see this, you only need to glance at the tall, skinny white chicks who dominate catwalk from New York to Paris. Fashion blogging doesn’t have to cater for one body type or demonstrate slavish admiration for identikit models. Claire and Lauren told me that they are “one hundred percent part of the short girl brigade” and all about “embracing who you are and wearing what you want”. They add that this doesn’t include bum bags.

Ebony Nash is particularly passionate about the text content of her blog and believes that the writing of bloggers should be valued over pastel hair colour, being a size six or having a camera “that makes you look like Charlotte Free”. She says that some blogs have a “formula for success” and that viewers should “actually read blogs more, instead of flicking through heavily edited pictures”. If you have a passion for things style or beauty related, and genuinely enjoy writing, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get involved as a fashion blogger. You don’t have to have the most amazing DSLR or resemble Cara Delevingne.

I asked the three bloggers what products they’re desperate to get their hands on for 2014. Ebony’s after a pale pink boyfriend coat and says that “as a lover of all things black-on-black-on-black, I’m looking forward to getting out of my comfort zone with the pastel trends of SS14”. Lauren wants everything in baby pink but if forced to choose, she’d like “a cropped fluffy jumper, the fluffier the better”. Claire’s going to be all over the holographic trend “like a rat on a biscuit”. ELN Fashion and Stylingo are definitely ones to watch in 2014.

Vogue’s Fashion’s Night Out in Manchester: plenty of bling – but where was the fun?

For a week, Manchester’s Deansgate has been decked with banners advertising Fashion’s Night Out, presaging the descent of Vogue’s fash-pack in the frozen wastes of the North on Wednesday night.

First published in The Guardian 11th October 2013

For a week, Manchester‘s Deansgate has been decked with banners advertising Fashion‘s Night Out, presaging the descent of Vogue’s fash-pack in the frozen wastes of the North on Wednesday night.
As a Vogue devotee and fashion lover, I decided to drop by and see what all the fuss was about. The event was billed as a ‘fashion extravaganza’ that would involve the city’s chicest shops staying open til 10pm, hosting designers including Matthew Williamson, Sarah Burton and Jonathan Saunders, and featuring celebrity DJ sets from Pixie Geldoff, Jameela Jamil and the Maccabees.

I got to Hugo Boss early, where Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman was tipped to begin her evening, and proceeded to be glared at by a bunch of unfriendly bouncers. I didn’t blame them too much, the southern softies were clearly feeling the cold. As a freelancer, I didn’t have any card or tag that identified me as representing the Guardian’s Northerner blog and for a while, it didn’t look like I was getting anywhere near the door of what seemed to be a private party.

However, I was finally taken pity on by a kind Vogue-related woman and allowed into the hallowed (and very warm) interior of the Hugo Boss. There were lots of cocktails and stretched, lipsticky smiles and people who generally seemed very ill-at-ease, drinking champers in a brightly-lit shop while a crowd of people gathered in the cold outside, trying to see in.

Shulman was soberly dressed and didn’t look as aggressively ‘fashion’ as most of the women present (ie 6ft with eye-wateringly small waistlines). I asked her about whether she thought style was different in the north of England. “I don’t think it’s as simple as a north/south divide,” she said.
“All big cities have their own style. Manchester seems to have a two-pronged approach: one is very glamourous, feminine, out there, partying style. Then you’ve got a very gritty, urban, club music style … In fact, it’s not that different to London in that way.” Shulman added that “Northern designers have a kind of conviction about them, but I suppose all designers have to have that anyway”.

I headed over to Flannels where Matthew Williamson was expected to make a guest appearance. He was fashionably late and told the Guardian: “I think Northern style is very cool, although I don’t like using that word”. Come now, Matthew. You’re a Manchester boy, surely you have more than ‘cool’ in your descriptive arsenal? Before I could press the matter, his bother stepped in to warn me off with a snarl: that’s your one question.

Undeterred, I wandered among the girls having free manicures and picking at canapés and toting hideously expensive handbags. What struck me was that no one really seemed to be having much fun. The whole ‘joy of shopping’ thing that the event was supposed to inspire wasn’t happening. Bored-looking people with deep pockets and seriously uncomfortable shoes browsed rails and when a few of them got to talk to Williamson, they became instantly animated and laughed like wind-up toys.

The proceeds from the Fashion’s Night Out T-shirts, created by GAP, went to Save the Children and the charity chosen by Shulman. Claire Filler, regional fundraising manager for Save the Children said the event was “fantastic for the north-west, fantastic for us, and fantastic for students from the University of Manchester, who have started a Save the Children society and are selling the t-shirts”.
The charitable element of the evening was largely overlooked and none of the browsers I spoke to had any idea that Save the Children were involved, although the sales of their Hermes bags could’ve saved quite a few children.

The free cocktails and sushi looked exquisite, but the whole evening felt empty and lacking point. It seemed to be an opportunity for designer shops to stay open a bit later and for people with large disposable incomes to buy things and have their pictures snapped in the same vicinity as a couple of fashion names. I came out feeling like some kind of poverty-stricken street urchin, and very disappointed that the whole thing seemed to be about spending money, rather than a celebration of style or creativity.

Word on the street: how is Northern style different?

Annie & Lisa, Manchester: “Up North we have a more diverse look, we’ve not got a point to prove and we’re not always on show”
Sabriyah, Manchester: “I think London style is more eclectic, they put more thought into their outfits despite seeming effortless. Northern style is more to do with following trends”
Katie, Leeds: “Northern style is more grungy and urban, we’re not as posh as those girls in London!”
Nicky, Manchester: “Northern girls are more eclectic in what they choose, they’re not afraid to go wild and really dress up”
Danni, Glasgow: “In the North we’re still a wee bit glam… we like our big nights out!”