MIDTOWN — Instead of showing off their couture and jewelry exclusively on the runway, designers are now courting New York's top fashion bloggers to wear their goods as a way to get more exposure during New York Fashion Week.
The growing power of bloggers, who mingle with celebrities, editors and stylists during the eight-day fashion extravaganza, provides a new type of clotheshorse for fashion designers. In the lead up to Fashion Week, starting Sept. 8, many designers are seeking the ideal fashion personality to bring added exposure to their brands.
“You have to dress the people that run around and get photographed,” said Karen Ko, a 29-year-old jewelry designer from Greenwich Village.
When Ko started her business k2o by Karen Ko two years ago, pinning her designs as accessories in the runway shows was a key part of her marketing plan for the city’s biannual fashion week. Now, having her work worn by influential fashion bloggers and high-profile magazine types is the new priority.
“It’s the relationship. I would say its 100 percent relationship,” said Ko, whose designs will be seen next week on the fashion duo Emily Bache and Abigail Breslin, who form two thirds of the popular blog WanderLust.
The partnerships are mutually beneficial. Instead of spending thousands on their wardrobes, fashion bloggers get free access to the latest designs. For Ko, she hopes fashion bloggers and magazine employees will be photographed in her jewelry, or that they promote it directly in their blog or magazine.
“I would say that bloggers are an easy way for new designers to get exposure,” Ko said.
Katy Atlas, a 29-year-old fashion blogger who lives in the West Village, is a beneficiary of the new trend.
“People see bloggers the same way as they see the show,” said Katy Atlas, who started the fashion and food blog Sugarlaws in 2007.
For designers, the more eyeballs focused on their items at fashion week, the better.
While some relationships are loosely strung together by mutual respect for style, others are formal and require a signed contract in exchange for specific exposure.
“There is a certain period of time they can wear them,” Ko said about some agreements with bloggers. In other cases, Ko will send gifts to high-ranking personalities at more established publications like Vogue. This is decidedly calculated, but does not guarantee exposure.
Atlas believes she and her community of bloggers can have just as much influence on the fashion agenda as the Mercedes-Benz runway shows because of their relationship with readers.
Atlas' blog gives readers an intimate view of what she wore and what she ate, by chronicling her interests in food and fashion.
“We bloggers are so accessible,” said Atlas. “They (readers) know exactly who I am. We are more part of peoples’ day-to-day lives.”
But some designers urge caution when it comes to relying on bloggers to represent their label. Good or bad, they said, images of personalities wearing designers' clothes remain indefinitely on the Internet.
“It can work against you. You have to be careful,” said Rolando Santana, owner of an eponymous Garment District-based label.
Santana, who has been in business for five years, used to welcome any exposure. Now, he's more meticulous about marketing his designs carefully to fashion editors, stylists and celebrities who best typify them.
“I am really working to have people who really represent the label well,” Santana said.