Was it ever difficult to transition that laughing, joking, “fucking around” mentality we’ve talked about into building credibility within fashion, an industry characterized by its seriousness?
LS: I’ve never had an issue where I felt a direct person wasn’t taking my seriously because I think honesty, across any medium or industry, is refreshing, but I think I toiled away a little bit when I first started because of my mentality. My first job in fashion was as a publicist at BPMW – which I loved, by the way, they’re a great company – and that was a definite grind, and not always productively.
But oddly enough, I think that having that [joking, yet honest] writing in my back pocket was actually a big help for building my career in fashion. You don’t have this resume that’s just top-to-bottom bangers like someone who’s worked in the industry for a decade plus, but having the writing and the blog act as almost a portfolio for my taste level and opinions in a way helped validate all of the rest. I never really felt like I wasn’t being taken seriously even though my writing was based in fucking around because anyone who more experienced probably recognized some of those same absurdities I write about. I mean, they love fashion just as much as I do – they may have laughed about the same topics before. So while fashion is seen as a serious industry, I never felt like I got in trouble for like, “being too real” or even just fucking around with my writing.
Do you think that whole idea of bloggers and personalities “being too real” is a cheap trick?
LS: Absolutely. I think that idea really came about in the post-Four Pins landscape. Once Complex shut down Four Pins, menswear as this insular little thing become almost like a snake eating its own tail. Now, I think we’re back at a point where people are cravingknowledge. Not that a good joke doesn’t go a long way, but because menswear has become so hyper-trendy as the industry has changed and the audience has expanded, there’s now a large group of people seeking to know why a brand blows up one week then doesn’t matter the next. They want a little but more substance in their editorial.
That’s not to say that a funny writer or an honest writer will always be better than someone who is super clinical, but I’ve seen things move away from that whole “devil may care” attitude where part of the voice is this whole “you don’t even know what I’m talking about, so I’m going to talk down to you” shtick. That worked at a point because it made new menswear fans crave more, kinda like when you’re in middle school and the girl that likes you is super mean to you [Ed’s note: no girls liked me in middle school], but that whole angle reached a critical point. That whole Four Pins voice still finds an audience on social media – especially Twitter – but now, people want to learn rather than just make in-jokes. I think you can teach and still have fun, but as a whole, the menswear community has moved away from the “too real” attitude.
I’m interested in your comment about teaching and learning. You’d think that as the menswear audience grows, you’d have enough people getting that “first lesson” – don’t wear this with that, don’t wear these colors – that the content would be common knowledge and no longer really appealing. But you feel like we’ve gotten to a point where people crave that teaching more?
LS: I guess I don’t really find myself interacting with people who are at that first level. That’s no comment on those people, but most people that would know of me connect with Grailed or Four Pins and are almost past those first learnings. But even that is case-by-case: the community is so large and so diverse now that it’s impossible to generalize and say something like “all menswear readers are acting this way” – all we can really do is extrapolate based on what we see and who we talk to. It’s truly hard to say.
From my experiences with Grailed especially, I think there’s been a real shift towards more educational content. There are just so many trends popping up that even the more experienced customers want to know which trends have legs, which they should skip, etc. and naturally look towards a voice of authority and experience to help them.
End of the day, it’s all about knowing how to spend your hard-earned money on fashion – am I buying a Vetements hoodie that costs a ton but someone thinks has staying power? Or am I buying vintage tees because I see them on Instagram and therefore think they’re popular? With all the visual noise on social media, it’s only gotten harder to analyze trends, and therefore the teaching and learning editorial has a new importance.