Future of fashion journalism in India: Bloggers vs Print vs TV

Mumbaigloss attended a recent event by Godrej India Culture Lab, an intellectual cultural hub in Mumbai city, in association with LFW about the future of Fashion Journalism in India. Parmesh Shahani, Head, Godrej India Culture Lab, moderated the hour long panel discussion with fashion and journalism pundits like Aishwarya Subramanyam, Editor, ELLE IndiaAmbika Anand, Fashion Editor, NDTV Good Times and MissMalini, fashion blogger. I being a blogger was rather intrigued at this debate. With a sea of fashion bloggers and vloggers all over India in the recent times, where did the editorial authority lie when it came to Indian fashion? Do people who talk about fashion, really understand fashion? Where will fashion journalism head 10 years from now? And are there any good fashion journalists left in the country?

Godrej India Culture Lab, Aishwarya Subramaniam, Ambika Anand, Malini Agarwal,

L to R: Parmesh Shahani, Malini Agarwal, Aishwarya Subramanyam, Ambika Anand

Ok, let’s face it. We don’t really read our morning newspapers anymore. Well, most of us. We hold our tablets instead, with our morning cup of coffee rather than the traditional newspapers. And going forward, as future generations become more and more absorbed into the digital world, the trend will become to get all news and info online. Be it fashion or politics, digital mode will become the preferred mode. But does digital world has editorial authority? Well, not completely. In the digital world, anyone can publish. There are no rules or an authority to regulate information. Freedom of speech is used to voice out opinions about anything and everything without any restraint. This might make or break any brand or a person. So how can we claim that the views presented on the digital platform are from a subject matter expert?

But this is just one side of the story. The other side is that people can relate to a common person talking about fashion. They can relate more to a person’s style than a fashion designer’s brand and most of the time it is street style. So, in effect it has invoked interest of a common man into the world of fashion. This is where bloggers, vloggers and influencers have more power over the print platform. As Aishwarya Subramanyam put across aptly that the print media should fear the Malinis of the digital world as their reach is growing faster and stronger. But she disagreed on any existing single editorial authority.

fashion journalism in India, Miss Malini

Selfie – the digital age invention

Coming back to the bloggers/vloggers – are they in any way experts of the subject? No, most of them are not. Most of them don’t know anything about fashion journalism. Leave aside pronouncing the names of the brands correctly, they don’t know about the designers, their style or their market. They don’t even know the difference between Hermes and Harman Kardon. Yet, they are valued because of their readership. The concentrated readership on the fashion can only be sought through fashion bloggers which a magazine might not provide. Magazines usually have mixed readership. But does that give bloggers an editorial upper-hand? May be not. Aishwarya said that while digital gave audience quick updates on the fashion events but print provided them factual and informative report on possible trends. Though, digital gives liberty in terms of space, print could have space restrictions. So it is a great mix to use TV, print and digital mediums than concentrating on only one medium. Aishwarya admitted good writers were rare and multitasking was needed to translate the same into digital world. Digital world is real-time (most of the times) and churning out quality features is rather difficult on that medium.

Anaita Shroff Adjania

Anaita Shroff Adjania contributing her two pence to the discussion

So where does fashion critiques feature in the scheme of things? Aishwarya responded it was not necessary to criticize in a magazine since most of the regular readers know the difference between good and bad fashion. Ambika stated being a lifestyle channel, critiquing was not done on NDTV either. Malini highlighted that though critiquing gives rise to social media bullying but then if serious critiques are considered then much honest opinions are reflected on the digital platform than print. Aishwarya pointed out that if critiquing was the strength of a journalist and if put in context of designer world and history of fashion, then internet helps.

How does digital world help in chronicling fashion history? Malini felt the internet as digital space was a time capsule recording history. Aishwarya added that print has invaluable archives and resources available.

So what is the future of fashion journalism? Ambika stressed it will be a multiple platform world for all to survive. Aishwarya asserted print will not disappear as it is about balanced storytelling and brave and informed fashion journalists are needed. Digital will expand too and there is no denying that it will have its own demand in terms of fashion influencers and trend setters. Anaita Shroff Adajania, Fashion Director, Vogue India added, that there were many types of readers and catering to all was necessary.

To conclude, MissMalini said that authority will always lie with the legacy of print and television, while social media for her was a part of an eco-system that bridged the gap and decoded fashion for the common man.

About MumbaiGloss

Parimita Chakravorty is an author, blogger, features writer and a communications specialist. She has written for various popular magazines and websites related to beauty, fashion, jewellery and lifestyle, including HAIR India, Femina.in, BeBeautiful.in, Hello, etc. She has also contributed to various youth blogs and magazines. Her book ‘Look Stunning At Any Size’ has been well appreciated and received by the readers. Currently, she is part of India’s leading IT brand and takes care of their internal communications. Parimita is also working towards bringing awareness about Endometriosis in India; a silent epidemic which is consuming a lot of lives. She manages a page ‘Endometriosis India Files’ where patients discuss their condition and diagnosis.
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