Brooke Bomber: LookBook.nu’s Forum Moderator

15 11 2009

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Last week when I spoke with Yuri Lee, the creator of LookBook.nu, I asked her if she could put me in contact with some of the site’s top users. Just a few days later, I heard from Lookbook’s forum moderator, Brook Bomber.

The 24-year-old, Columbus, Ohio native, says,

“Fashion is something that I’ve really had to learn to deal with. If anything, my basic idea of fashion stems from an anti-fashion ideal. I was born an identical twin, you could say I used fashion from a very young age as a tool to set myself apart from the carbon copy of myself….I’d say that the aesthetics, the idea of letting someone know what you are all about upon first glance, is what truly intrigues me when it comes to fashion. I really love the way that, through our exteriors, we can manipulate people’s reactions to ourselves.”

Bomber has been a member of the fashion forum since May, 2009. As moderator, she sorts through the site’s photographs, making sure that they adhere to the rules set up by the community. When it comes to advantages of online forums as opposed to traditional magazines Bomber says,

“In both print and online fashion mediums, it is really all about the model and the photograph. The major difference we have here is that LookBook.nu’s idea of fashion comes from anyone who has access to the website–either as a contributing model, or one who contributes hype. Fashion magazines might be showcasing what is coming next in fashion that might still be unattainable for the average person, while LookBook.nu sticks more to a everyday, pedestrian idea of what is ‘in’.”

To me, this sounds very much like the “democraticization of fashion,” a concept that LA Times Fashion Critic Booth Moore explained last week.

Overall, when it comes to the changing fashion industry, Bomber sees positive things happening, especially when it comes to the presence of LookBook.nu.

“One thing I have personally noticed, is that you see more affordable, current fashion in chain stores. A lot of designers are making lines for the everyday woman that are available, even all the way out here in the ‘cornfields’ of the midwest. What massive online communities for fashion, like LookBook.nu, have really shown is that a lot of women can afford to buy Vogue and drool over the editorials, but it’s much more appealing for us to be able to afford what we are lusting after.”

Bomber’s thoughts made me think a lot about Kristine Shine’s “Why Y Women,” and the results of the current study conducted by Radar Research. Perhaps we could look at the availability of more affordable fashion as the industry’s response to online fashion forum activity and the desire of individual contributors. It makes sense, doesn’t it?





Spotlight on PopSugar’s Kristine Shine

14 11 2009

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I caught vice president of PopSugar Media, Kristine Shine, at work yesterday and we got the chance to chat about Generation Y and the research that she discussed in her recent work. The East Coast native, who has worked in ad sales and branding since 1993, had a lot to say about Generation Y.

She first noticed Gen Y’s enormous influence when the old methods of communication that she used at work weren’t working as well as they used to. She realized that the work force was changing, becoming predominantly more Gen Y based, and she needed to address motivation and personal needs in a new way. Familiar with their use of online fashion forums and blogs, Shine credits Generation Y as a group with “power, smarts, and individuality,” something that “marketers need to take in and embrace.”

Ultimately, Gen Y’s influence stems from these new online outlets which we have been talking about, such as LookBook.nu. However, Shine is not surprised to see the world of fashion changing before our eyes.

“Blogging is personal expression in public form,” says Shine. “Individuality and authenticity are important to Gen Y. Blogs and online forums create an opportunity for individual expression, as opposed to magazines which are dictative or directive of what you should wear.”

While blogs and online forums facilitate Gen Y creativity and expression, Shine says they also open up opportunities to new designers.

“A young designer who doesn’t have an established name or brand can immediately create an online forum in order to get their clothing out there in an inexpensive manner. You used to have to wait years to be picked up by a major label. Now, independent fashion designers have an easier time getting their products out to the masses. It is all about accessibility.”

And accessibility, as Shine’s research shows, is what Gen Y most identifies themselves with. They are influenced by their peers and the fashion that they see on real people. So there we have it. The surge in online blogs and fashion forums is no longer a mystery. 🙂





GenY Women: Most Influential!

14 11 2009

Radar Research recently published a report called “Why Y Women,” a two-tier study of 1018 women ages 18-49, examining the influence that Gen Y women have on lifestyle and cultural trends. Kristine Shine, vice president of Pop Sugar Media explained,

“Gen Y women are a major force in determining cultural trends and setting the pace for style. The survey found that 92% of Gen Y women consider themselves to be trend leaders, while 67% of Gen X women identified Gen Y as trend leaders too.”

Influence Chart

While reading Shine’s work, I found myself reflecting on LookBook.nu and the online fashion forums, which provide an outlet for Gen Y women and men to express their love for fashion. But I asked myself, what are they really doing with these websites? In actuality, LookBook.nu exists as a blank slate, ready to tackle upcoming fashion trends dictated by the fashion-conscious members of the site. In fact first with blogging, and now with these forums, technology has become key, and Gen Y has taken the driver’s seat.

“With technology, Gen Y women have more choices available to them than previous generations…Consumption of new media reinforces Gen Y women’s perception of themselves as more individualistic than earlier generations. They cite blogs as being more accessible, more like to be honest, on the cutting edge and more likely to know about trends first.”

In her article, Shine goes on to explain the larger impact of Gen Y’s influence, touching upon aspects of marketing, branding, and advertising.

Clearly this study is buzz worthy. While browsing a Millennial Marketing blog, I came across some more information in a post by Carol Phillips, president of Brand Amplitude.

“More proof of Gen Y women’s disproportionate influence comes from Forrester’s Josh Bernoff, author of Groundswell. A very cool interactive graph reveals that U.S women 18-24 are the most likely to fall into the category ‘Creators’-–those who create new content on the web. Relative to the average, they index an impressive 200, or twice the average.”

In my opinion, members of LookBook.nu and the other fashion forums we learned about from Booth Moore fit this description quite perfectly. When choosing to become a member on these websites, not only are these fashionistas expressing their own fashion sense, with personal images and style, but they are also expanding an already flourishing network of individuals itching for feedback. If anything warrants the title of creativity, this would be it. What do you think?





Jasmine Snow Deems Online Trend Forecasting As Beneficial to the Fashion Industry

13 11 2009

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After reading Bruce Nussbaum’s article about the potential threat that online fashion forums pose to traditional fashion magazines, I was eager to get the opinion of a print-oriented individual. Luckily, I was able to chat with Jasmine Snow, the Fashion Assistant at Seventeen Magazine.

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The 24-year-old FIT graduate, who interned for Patti Wilson and Heatherette, has worked at Seventeen for a little over 2 years. Ultimately, she views online fashion forums and blogs as a beneficial contribution to the magazine industry.

“Blogs and online forums give everyone at a real idea of what people are wearing and the individual style that people have. As part of the magazine industry, we get to see exactly how things are put together, instead of just having to guess and tell people what we think. Also, blogs show real people wearing the trends, instead of showcasing images on models or as stills.”

Jasmine also said that consulting online fashion forums provides quick and easy access to trends and photos.

“Getting information with our computers is generally faster because online sources are right at our fingertips.”

When it comes to the changing fashion industry itself, the New Jersey native spoke about the impact of online forums with optimism.

“Online sources help us to see what the most popular trends are. If there is a runway show with feathers and fringes and people go crazy talking about it on blogs, than we know that it is something to talk about and feature in our pages too…As for designers, the more people talking about them and their line, the more people will look to buy it.”

Although Bruce Nussbaum is wary of the future of Bazaar, Elle, and Vogue, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. These two mediums could potentially co-exist.





Are Fashion Magazines in Danger?

13 11 2009

As I routinely perused the Internet this morning, I was struck by Bruce Nussbaum’s work titled, “Who Needs Conde Nast? Gen Y Builds It’s Own Fashion Platforms.” The Business Week writer and blogger recounts his experience working with a Parson’s grad school student in the midst of building a research collaborative for Generation Y.

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“She pointed me to Lookbook.nu. It’s a simple digg-type platfom where Gen Yers around the world are posting their fashion creations and getting rated by their peers. It’s simple, beautiful and wonderfully innovative in a quietly disruptive way.”

I love the way he puts it, describing Lookbook.nu as “quietly disruptive.” It really got me thinking about the potential influence that Lookbook.nu and other online fashion forums could have on an industry that we know today. Nussbaum suggests that these forums are a healthy alternative to traditional fashion magazines, which in time, as his title implies, could be left in the dust.

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“You see authentic people in their teens and twenties wearing their own incredible fashions created by themselves. And it’s on their own culturally relevant media platform where they blog and comment on their work and have others post reactions and suggestions as well.”

It is hard to say what the future of the fashion industry may be, in particular what will happen to fashion magazines. However, Nussbaum may definitely be onto something here…..What do you think?

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The Washington Post’s Robin Givhan Gives Her Two Sense…

12 11 2009

A recent article in the Huffington Post highlighted “The Future of Women’s Fashion” discussion that took place at the 92nd Street Y last a few weeks ago. Moderated by Glamour magazine’s Editor-in-chief Cindi Leive, Washington Post fashion editor Robin Givhan and designers such as Ashley Olsen and Isaac Mizrahi, thoughts were exchanged about the current and future state of the fashion industry.

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Luckily, I was able to get in contact with Ms. Givhan! I asked her about the increasing role of the Internet and its influence on the fashion industry. Hearing so much about online fashion forums and the presence of bloggers, I wanted to hear what she had to say.

Have you found that the role of hte Internet has changed the fashion world in any way?

“I think the Internet has made designers and retailers more aware of their customers and to some degree more sensitive to their concerns. The fact that consumers can now look at fashion shows as they happen or immediately thereafter means the designers are not simply showing their work to insiders but to the public in general. The result, I think, is that designers are in the process of figuring out how best to present a collection that must dazzle editors and retailers who want inspiration, while not alienating consumers who are looking for clothes to buy.”

What are the advantages and disadvantages of online sources like fashion forums and blogs?

“The online sources are fast and immediate. They offer instant gratification when it comes to news about the fashion industry. That’s an advantage. However, the fact that they are fast and immediate is also a disadvantage.  There is little time to be thoughtful. There is little time to pull together the kinds of fantasy-filled photo shoots for which magazines are known. I also think that people can become instant experts online. Set up a website and you’re a fashion critic. The old fashioned way, which involved internships and apprenticeships, gave people a chance to learn and make mistakes out of the spotlight. The internet makes for a more democratic environment, but it also devalues expertise in some ways.”

Overall, how do you feel about the changing fashion industry?

“I think the changes are mostly for the good. More people have access to information and good design. I just think that people have to be mindful of quality and be on the lookout to make sure that doesn’t decline.”

Thanks Ms. Givhan, you’re words are certainly insightful!





The Influence of Teen Bloggers and Online Forums

11 11 2009

Booth Moore was certainly not joking when she said that fashion bloggers were the flavor of the season at this year’s Fashion Week. One blogger in particular, Jane Aldridge, has had a HUGE influence on the fashion world, with her blog Sea of Shoes. Watch this video to get acquainted with her….