The Rise and “Tumbl” of Tumblr’s Fashion Success

Rise to Fame

Tumblr has become the go-to platform for many fashion bloggers (think What I Wore and LookBook.nu). With its built-in tagging and sharing options, and simple-to-use mobile app, bloggers can quickly update content on this platform that fills the gap between what Twitter and WordPress offer.

Last year, Rich Tong joined the startup as Tumblr’s Fashion Director and with that, Tumblr began a very happy relationship with the fashion industry. In fact, Tumblr CEO David Karp said last year that about 20% of the top 1,000 blogs on the site were fashion related.

It was only a matter of time before the fashion brands followed the bloggers.

Bergdorf Goodman’s Social Media Manager, Cannon Hodge, recently told Mashable that the brand’s 5th/8th blog is more editorial, while The Swipe “gives a very private glimpse into the most imaginative and creative minds of Bergdorf Goodman.”

Other luxury fashion brands like Kate Spade, Alexander McQueen, Oscar de la Renta, and Jason Wu have worked the platform into their social media strategies.

More affordable fashion brands, like Ann Taylor (the first fashion brand to adopt the platform) and ModCloth have also found success on the site.

And Tumblr really caught my eye during New York Fashion Week last Spring when the startup sent 20 bloggers to shows, and granted them access to the Independent Fashion Bloggers’ Conference, the Bloglovin awards, and the end-of-week part. So Tumblr visitors could stay up to date on the week’s events even more, Tumblr even set up a feed of Fashion Week content at Tumblr.com/nyfw.

But just days before this season’s New York Fashion Week, Tumblr made the news again, but not for sending more bloggers to New York. This time, Tumblr has made some fashion industry people very upset.

The “Tumbl”

Last week, Jessica Coghan, Director of Digital Media at Starworks, the fashion PR firm of brands like Ann Taylor and Kate Spade wrote updated her personal Tumblr with this:

So, I am sure you have all heard that Tumblr is sending some bloggers to fashion week again this season. I have also had the pleasure of seeing their sponsorship proposal being shopped around to brands, which I am not supposed to be talking about. I will say this … someone is completely out of their goddamn mind.

Fashion brands have adopted this platform in a big way and do you want to know what fashion brands need from Tumblr? An analytics dashboard! We are on all here managing blogs with the help of Google Analytics, but there is nothing catering to the tumblr only based metrics — reblogs, likes, followers, etc. There is nothing out there to help brands quantify their presence here. What works? What doesn’t? And it’s not about visitors- it’s about engagement in the oh so tumblr way.

They could actually make money from this analytics platform — I would pay for it for my clients. I would absolutely get behind a cost like that on an evergreen basis, which has to make way more money than this flash in the pan fashion week nonsense.

And then Julie Fredrickson of Ann Taylor’s social media team publicly said that nobody reached out to the brand from Tumblr with a Fashion Week proposal despite the brand being the first to use Tumblr and investing major money into the platform. She went on to say that, “It isn’t just Users First, Brands Second. Hell at this point you are Users First, Brands never,” before making a mean jab at Rich Tong, blatantly telling him to do his job.

Coghan and Fredrickson’s public comments showed up after Tumblr published its Fashion Week proposal, which outlines the following prices:

  • About $10,000 per private blogger event, not including the venue and other costs
  • $150,000 sponsorship of Tumblr’s New York Fashion Week page (per week)
  • $350,000 sponsorship for the fashion tagged section of Tumblr (per week)
  • Unlisted sum for guaranteed product placement in each of the blogs

The main issues: many in the industry believe these prices are ridiculous (especially for initiatives that a brand could directly do themselves) and Tumblr lacks an analytics dashboard so brands won’t know the impact of any of their efforts through the platform this season.

What Now?

Tumblr has some major explaining to do. After all, nobody likes a fashion faux pas.

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