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Fashion Week: Navigating Old and New Media

Traditional media -- particularly in fashion, which is what we are talking about here -- has money and prestige. New media, on the other side of the equation, has a youthful audience as well as an intuitive understanding of the way forward.
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Over the years I have argued, strenuously, against the prevailing wind that blogs, the act of blogging and bloggers have never "died" a media death. Ironically, it is The Observer itself, which earlier in the year championed the idea of the death of blogging, that has changed editorship altogether -- and now relies greatly on the talent of blogger/reporters. Charmed, I'm sure.

The pendulum swings. The new dawn beckons. Blogs have evolved, now occupying important niches, providing very specific information enthusiastically. And bloggers themselves -- the more prominent ones, at least -- have developed organic relationships with traditional media sources at the top of the old media food chain. It was, perhaps, inevitable; not so much a changing of the guard as an integration of the new.

Traditional media -- particularly in fashion, which is what we are talking about here -- has money and prestige. New media, on the other side of the equation, has a youthful audience as well as an intuitive understanding of the way forward. Kimmie Smith, named one of the 10 Hottest Bloggers in Cosmopolitan's Blogger Network, is such a blogger, and has developed such a relationship with a prestigious old media brand.

Smith, the editor-in-chief and founder of Kitten Lounge, chatted with me recently via Gmail, "Back in 2004 which is when I started, I was modeling and styling in my down time I would write about a number of accessories that I was wearing in my shoots or putting on clients. I was approached by a company to become an Editor of See Pretty Things which was all about accessories and then in 2007, I launched Kitten Lounge as I wanted my sense of style to be balanced by a lifestyle approach."

The Cosmo Blogger Network launched in the magazine's September issue -- the most important month of the calendar for glossies. "I will be featured throughout the year on various projects. Definitely check out the October issue to see something super exciting. It will definitely be a mixture of a number of things love that the network is about partnering with them and vice versa."

The Cosmo Blogger Network involved a photo shoot, a video as well as collaboration with the magazine. As Kimmie describes it via Gmail, she worked as "partners between the magazine, (their) brand and also my personal brand." Collaborations between bloggers and legacy media fashion glossies are increasing. In February, for example, Glamour embraced seventeen personal style bloggers from around the world for their "Young and Posh Bloggers Network." It is another example of audience exchange, the conferring of prestige on the next generation as well as fresh content and new perspectives getting a viewing by the fashion Establishment. A win-win, in other words.

Kimmie Smith has been front-and-center during Fashion Week, reviewing the shows for her readers (Kitten Lounge gets 20,000 hits from new fashion influentials a month). As a spokesperson for Sebago, a regular on HSN with ambassadorships with Crest 3D White and Mauboussin, Smith is doing fine on her own. So -- why Cosmo?

Cosmo, no matter how you parse it, adds prestige to her already impressive resume. The Cosmo brand -- the iconic Cosmo Girl, so woven into the modern American narrative -- has never been, nor will ever be, irrelevant to modern culture. And therein lies the reciprocal exchange. David Karp of Tumblr, at last November's Hearst Changing Media panel, noted that he was interested in strengthening relationships with certain marquee legacy media entities -- like NPR -- particularly because they "still carry a certain weight."

Not all legacy media brands have that weight. In the fashion world, however, Cosmo clearly matters. "Having the Cosmo nod is huge I love that they are all about the fun, fearless, female which I think is something that I embody in terms of my career path as well as what I would want to impart on other people."

And, of course, that fondness has something to do with the fact that today's prominent fashion bloggers -- the increasingly influential Tavi Gevinson, for instance -- were influenced by the Cosmos, by the Glamours and by the Vogues. It is almost as if the "new" fashion hierarchy was paying a fashionable respect to legacy media, which paved the way and provided the contours of the social landscape that they now inhabit and direct. "Each recognition is such a humbling experience being someone from the Midwest who came here in 2002 and has worked within so many capacities in fashion," said Smith. "Cosmo is definitely a win-win; we add new voices and our personality and they bring in this phenomenal network of fans, brands and just having that history behind them!"

Beyond the idealism there are also very earthy benefits to a blogger's exposure in a venue like Cosmo. "Blogging I have created a great platform," says Smith. "Cosmo noting and highlighting that is definitely a validation and opens me up to a much larger network which is always good for brands that I plan to work on in the future!"

Finally, where does Kimmie see herself in ten years? "I see myself still being on the digital side as that has always been a part of my success. But the Kimmie Smith empire would have a lot more collaborative brands that I would have designed -- lip glosses, fragrances, leather goods etc. As an Accessories Expert I would love to have a super cute boutique that truly showcases brands that I believe in that are curated by me and of course having a few outposts in NYC, LA, Miami and Dubai. Of course continuing to do TV and spokeswork would be a part of it too."

A Kimmie Smith empire, to be sure, that pays tribute to the Vogues, the Glamours and the Cosmos.