Letter to Leandra

Dear Leandra,
I’ve been following the ‘circus’ debate, watched the videos (GargageBOF), and tried to keep up with all the comments and I’m 100% on your side. It’s a very mudded debate though. Each time I want to formulate my response I am pulled in hundreds of directions, compelled to set everyone straight with the facts but not finding one linear train of thought. Of course I can’t but feel attacked myself, being the subject of those street style photographers everyone is complaining about, and writing a blog on top of it. Perhaps I am one of those people who is famous just for being famous? It’s hard not to doubt yourself when points like that are made. But then again, do my 15 years of work in this industry not earn me merit? Have I not always dressed the way I dress? I remember being chased by camera-toting Japanese buyers at Bryant Park when I was still using a fax machine and a land line to do my work. There was no internet to speak of, yet, there I was, telling them what I was wearing…
Suzy Menkes started off her rampage based on the wrong premise. Bloggers never claimed to be journalists. Bryan Boy’s blog is his ‘diary’. He says: “Welcome to my life and adventures!” He’s not even a good writer. Yet he’s being reprimanded for writing in his own voice, about himself and what he thinks of fashion. If we look at bloggers for what they are, then none of this would be relevant. They are not journalists; they are a new generation of self-proclaimed fashion enthusiasts who use their blogs as a platform and in a lot of cases a source of income. Bloggers need to support themselves with advertising, with gifts from sponsors, with collaborations etc. (like magazines, no?) Otherwise how will they stay afloat? I’ve had the luxury of having a lucrative casting job, which has allowed me to not look at my blog as a bread winner. (Have you seen any flashy banners on my site?) And if I’ve ever been paid to promote something, it would be plastered all over the pages of the sponsor’s website, like Coach or Mango.
When I wear something, it’s because I want to wear it. And because I am a target customer with target readers the PR teams appreciate my wanting to share my affection on my pages. I am the one who usually goes to the designer and asks for the pieces, not the other way around. I make the requests. I choose. I am not forced. The little projects I do with labels don’t make me any money but instead earn me the trust of the brands I truly admire. For me it’s about relationships and opportunity. And about my love for vintage – let’s not forget my niche – which in essence is dead product and not exploitable. Sure I could write for a magazine, but I have no ambitions in that field. Nor in photography. Yet I do all these things because I enjoy them.
In this sense we are different, Leandra. You have a voice. You have mad writing skills. And you really stand alone here, with the exception of Susie Lau and perhaps a handful of others. You are miles ahead of the chaff. You are perhaps what every blogger should strive for: a genuine, informed, opinionated, well-versed voice. And you are such a canon because you are an excellent writer. Does Suzy Menkes feel threatened? Then why doesn’t she hire you? If you can’t beat your enemies, join them? You would do a lot of good in the world of journalism, but then again, I think you have proven that you don’t need to be printed to be heard and respected.
Anyways, I just wanted to let you know that I give you kudos for writing your response. I’ve been wanting to write my own ever since my picture was on the front page of the New York Times last season, heckled by yet another bitter journalist who thinks accepting gifts limits authenticity. The amount of clothes, bags and shoes I’ve returned to sender because I didn’t like them, would probably surprise her. But I do – I don’t keep them and sell them for my own profit – because I don’t wear, do, say or promote anything I can’t back up with genuine sentiment. I was told to ignore the critics, that it didn’t mean anything and that any press is good press. But I too get defensive and outraged, because it’s all true in part. But, like you said, we all write with a different keyboard and use our means to different ends. My goal is to promote a world where people love/wear/own/buy vintage because it is green, inspiring, unique, cheap and high quality. And I hope that my Tales bring an intimate kind of positivity in an industry where everyone takes themselves way too seriously.
Keep on blogging, Leandra. It’s a brave new world.
Silk, printed blouse, pants and faux-python bag by Stella McCartney; my vintage varsity sweater from Vice Versa on Bedford Avenue; Navy blue beanie with fur pompom (my design for FW13) by Katie Ermilio; Black, suede pumps by Casadei; Vintage, orange earrings by Delduca; Butterfly brooch by Dori Gato.
March 12, 2013

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