6.27.2010

Shorts! Cultish Vendors!

I wore this to: do some errands; run into neighborhood friends; go to the 2nd St Flea; meet a friend for pedicures and pitas; hit up a yard sale on my way home (later we went to see Toy Story 3/3-D and ate banana splits at my apartment, too)

011
shirt/4playbk
short/ON capris, tailored
flats/payless

I ran around the rest of the weekend in a skirt and t-shirt (like so) so I didn't bother taking any pictures. Sunday I just, like, you know, hung out? Pictures got hung (not by me), compost got dropped off, parks were gone to with a 4 year-old who is in love with swings and chores were done.

I also watched Frontline: Merchants of Cool (the site has really awesome menu options like "How to Get Really Close to Teens' Lives"). There were a lot of shots of the documentarian blankly staring at marketing vehicles and advertising. It reminded me of a simpler pastoral time, when Limp Bizkit was adored and the Insane Clown Posse were "underground". And Malcolm Gladwell had short hair. Oh wait, I don't want to be brought back to that time.

It did make me think of all the cagey ad research that's now going on online. Can I let you guys in on a secret? I can't even make myself buy anything from Modcloth because of how much they're trotted out on blogs. I can admit flattering bloggers by naming dresses after them was a savvy ad move (oh, the low overhead on advertising and glowing reviews!). Same with their Be the Buyer. But I just can't make myself buy stuff from there, despite thinking it's cute, despite looking at the site. It is is that feeling that they're incredibly smart with their advertising and instead of it feeling like community, it feels so much like "cool hunting" advertising to me, even if the people who own it are just.like.us. It's nothing against them personally, clearly, but it sets off my "being sold to" alarm.

Is that insane? Is the "wolf in sheep's clothing" feeling just because they did start out as a small vintage-selling site and now they're...what they are? Is it because they're using advertising that's inventive and "close to home"? Is it because I can never tell if someone just likes them or are being sponsored by them or getting free clothes from them? (And the gushing - that's a whole other issue. I like a lot of brands, stores, etc. and sometimes I'll mention them in a positive way but I'm sometimes taken back by how much gushing goes on about this kind of stuff? Maybe it's just the way I'm reading into it since it's written out?)

It initially seemed strange to me that I would pick out and resist something like Modcloth but not call out something like Urban Outfitters or the like. But the line with UO is very clear. They are not "like me", they are not a small vintage-selling Etsy store I'd normally support and that's clear. I think I have feelings of unease when it's not clear?

Please feel free to chime in if you have thoughts about cultish vendors who use blogs for advertising.

9 comments:

  1. I have bi*chy thoughts about gushing. I thought gushing went away with the 50s...but then faux fifties housewife-ism is in isn't it? And THAT is a whole other post.

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  2. I must concur with you. My first instinct in a gushing type situation is to just back away slowly. Then, I tend to be very suspicious of anything that too many people take interest in.

    Anyway, I think this is my first comment, but I like your blog. (See how I wasn't too over the top there? Very nonchalant and all?)

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  3. I didn't even know they were ever small and independent, I think of them as a really powerful website with a massive marketing department! I do also like their stuff, but they are US based, so it would be silly for me to buy from them. But even if they shipped from here, I wouldn't. It's the ubiquity that puts me off. As a general rule I don't buy anything if it's too high profile. I just like being contrary I suppose, it's like I'll lose interest in bands once they top the charts. It's not right or rational but that's the way it is. With Modcloth there's also the thing that they seem to be giving everyone and their dog free clothes, and I wouldn't pay for what is given away.

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  4. I feel the SAME way. For a long time I didn't even include them in my "Friday Frocks" posts because I have such a bad taste in my mouth when it comes to Modcloth. Now I include some of their stuff but I always feel weird about doing it. They have really cute clothes but I feel weird even visiting their site, much less buying things from them. (Well I did make a purchase ONCE a long time ago, before all these blogs started getting sponsored by them, but I returned it because the sweater was crap.)

    I think the thing I dislike is that they have all these bloggers basically gushing and gushing and not really mentioning that oh yeah, they got all this stuff for free. Most of them do have disclaimers somewhere on the site, so it's not like they're really lying, but Modcloth seems to have a way of influencing the bloggers so that they write posts as if they actually bought the stuff, never actually saying whether they did or not. A lie of omission sort of thing. The fact that Modclotch seems like it's trying to be sneaky, and somehow getting "their" bloggers to get in on the act, is what I really don't like.

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  5. @ Franca - yep! They started out selling vintage.

    For anyone who's interested, here's an article on them:

    http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/08/modcloth/

    ****

    I am glad it's not just me, guys! I kept asking myself if I was being overly critical (as I know I can slant towards negativity).

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  6. I missed this post while off line over the weekend. I totally agree with you and the other commenters. WIW was my initial foray into style/fashion blogging, and I stopped reading it when it seemed to push ModCloth and other sponors too hard. Gushing is really annoying. I wish that folks would accept merchandise and give an honest review. Like what is the construction, quality of materials like? I've never ordered from them, but I imagine that their clothes would look adorable but have major problems with fit, construction and durability. Maybe some issues with bleeding colors too? But thanks to the gush-norm in the blogging world, I have no idea about this.
    Thanks for the NYTimes link.

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  7. I completely concur. I started loving style blogs because of everything different I saw, and now on so many sites all I see is Modcloth.

    It also bothers me that this brand, given their immense exposure, rarely carries sizes above a "large." If I can't fit into Modcloth sizes, neither can a substantial portion of the population. It's one thing for a style blogger to go out and buy something they like, but when they volunteer to shill for a company that automatically excludes a part of the population based on size, it has the potential to alienate readers.

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  8. I have always felt something deterring me from purchasing any clothing on modcloth despite perusing their store a few times the last year and seeing things i liked. i recently bought two umbrellas and for some reason didn't feel that reluctance when it came to that need, as I like to have a few to switch through at the ready in the summer here as i am paranoid about thunderstorms (got caught in one last year). so anyway, yeah i never really articulated why i don't want to buy clothing from modcloth, but i've felt the same wall you do.

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  9. No one mentioned an important point: Modcloth has such embarrassing product names. I can't pay for anything called "Un-Teal Next Time" or "Wuthering Delights." I just can't.

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