3 years

WITH IT

The Schoolgirl School of Fashion

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Fashion blogs by teenagers in India have begun to resonate with readers, advertisers and fashionistas

Earlier this March, when it came to choosing between attending designer Manish Malhotra’s grand finale at Delhi’s fashion week and studying for her final exam scheduled the next day, Anupriya Dutta had her priorities clear. “I thought about it, it was a tough call. But it was Manish Malhotra and my first stint at a fashion week,” says the shy 17-year-old. “I carried my text books that day, read [them] through in the breaks, reached home after midnight and dozed off. My mother thought I would fail my English exam, but I did well,” she says, with a glint in her eye as she sips a Belgian Chocolate Shake on a chilly November evening in Delhi’s Khan Market.

Dutta’s profile on LinkedIn, an online networking platform for professionals, describes her as a ‘High School Fashion Reporter’ who writes about fashion on her blog, Lace Grass Hues and works as a reporter for Poshglam.com, an online fashion magazine. She has been a fashion blogger for the past three years now. With more than 500 followers, she prefers to keep her blog neat with no endorsements or advertisements that might interfere with its readability, and likes to write about the business of fashion. “I am more interested in what Tom Ford does with Gucci than in posting mindless pictures of clothes and accessories from a Zara or Forever 21, as is common with fashion blogs. I like to give my opinion on fashion,” she says.

Indian fashion writing and blogs bore her. She admires American fashion blogs such as Man-repeller (a feminist take on fashion), Blonde Salad and Style Scrapbook. Being a fashion reporter also entails attending events and store openings; of course, attending school and taking exams is also part of her routine. Dutta usually posts her work early in the morning after sleeping over a piece written the previous night. “That is the way it is, I am a fashion enthusiast who covers fashion all day, except for the time I am in high school,” says Dutta. She has signed up to study fashion journalism at London School of Design next year. “I recently designed a magazine for my portfolio and that impressed [the School]. My blog has a lot to do with that, as that’s where I have grown to understand fashion as it is now,” says Dutta, a student of Delhi Public School, RK Puram.

As fashion blogging gradually gains sway in India, this one-time hobby has also become a lucrative way to combine style and entrepreneurship. Bloggers writing about fashion offer style tips and endorse products of various fashion brands and designers. While blogging offers a simple online platform to interact with readers over fashion and style, it also offers a professional opportunity to those with a keen interest in the fashion business. Age and resources are no disqualifiers, so it gives young bloggers a chance to start early. “That’s the best part about blogging,” says Dutta. “I went to several magazine and design places for an internship, but they all asked me to come back when I was 18. No one cares about my age, not even advertisers, on my blog. I am partly professional already,” she says.

The blogosphere in the US had its youngest blogger in 12-year-old Tavi Gevinson, whose fashion blog Style Rookie caught public attention in 2008. Gevinson would simply post pictures of herself in different outfits and comment on the latest fashion trends; her blog is believed to have drawn 30,000 followers everyday till she decided to start Rookie Magazine at the age of 15.

Arushi Khosla, who started her blog Fab Blab at 14, is possibly India’s Tavi Gevinson. The blog has now been rechristened Bohemian Like You (after the song by American rockband Dandy Warhols). “I was beginning to see fashion as something that is more than being celebrity-centric and about ‘who wore what’. Since most of my friends are not as interested in fashion as I am, blogging gave me a platform to connect with like-minded people who see fashion as art,” says Khosla, now 18. Currently studying fashion in New York, Delhiite Khosla’s résumé reads like one of a full-fledged fashion editor’s, having reviewed fashion for American fashion houses such as United Nude, Mash NY and Motel. In one of her posts, she describes herself as a ‘Rodarte-Struck teen girl’. The American fashion label Rodarte has taken on Gevinson as its spokesperson. Clicking selfies on her terrace in Noida, Khosla would post outfits of top brands from the UK and the US. “Initially, I would post long and lengthy articles, but given the short attention span that online readers have, I have converted my blog into a personal styling blog where I post pictures of myself,” she says. She has deliberately kept the look of the blog clean and minimalistic, and continues to post selfies from the fashion-savvy streets of New York. It was her blog that eventually landed her an internship in New York with the Council of Fashion Designers of America while she was still taking her Class XII board exams. “That sort of paved my career in fashion. Thanks to my blog, I was already connected to many people associated with the fashion industry,” she boasts.

Even though Dutta plans to leverage her blog for professional ambitions and enjoys playing style guru for friends and family, she admits that in the initial stages, she kept the blog private and didn’t tell friends in school. “I always wondered what my friends would think, and whether they would judge me for being frivolous and stupid,” says Dutta. “Gradually, as my blog started becoming popular and friends came to know of it, I realised that we all had that one particular thing that we were embarrassed of. It helped me connect with my passion. That’s all I want to do,” she says. “My friends treat me normally, though some people do judge me for [it]. I still get good grades and people come to me for style tips. I just did a round of styling tips with some people in school for our farewell party,” she adds. “I try to keep a low profile about the blog in front of teachers and the principal.”

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