Wednesday, December 2, 2009

1/12/09 - Sartorial Salaries

We look at the success of The Sartorialist and see how other street style bloggers can follow in his fashionable footsteps and convert their blogs into profitable businesses….

Scott Schuman, better known as The Sartorialist, is one of the most famous street style bloggers out there. He is also the leader in demonstrating how street style bloggers can convert their blog’s popularity into a presumably profitable business model.

Aside from the ubiquitous advertising banners which feature on his website he also works on projects outside of his blog to monetise on his success. He writes for and has a monthly page in men’s magazine, GQ.

Schuman has taken the simple street style concept off the pages of the internet, past the glossy mag and onto our coffee tables; he has published a book of his favourite shots featured on his website, The Sartorialist. Furthermore, his indisputable success as a fashion commentator – both of commercial fashion and street style – has gotten the fashion houses interested and several have incorporated Schuman into their advertising campaigns in a bid to use his blog’s popularity and photographic skills to enhance their brand.

In 2008 he featured in Gap’s autumn/winter advertising campaign as a model; he shot DKNY’S spring/summer advertising campaign 2009, and this year he shot images for Burberry’s trench campaign.

The Sartorialist for Gap

As the example of The Sartorialist shows, street style bloggers are in a position to reap the benefits of their popularity and monetise their enterprises as other websites, fashion brands, publishing houses, and even tourist boards are starting to recognise their influence. With street style blogs from Copenhagen to Tel Aviv, there’s never been a better time for bloggers to look to Schumann and learn.


This is perhaps the most obvious way street style bloggers can make money simply by featuring advertising on their websites. However beyond featuring advertisements for clothing lines or fashion websites, street style blogs may be able to capitalise on technology which enables readers to identify where they can buy similar clothes to those they like in their photos. pioneers visual search

Street style blogs tend not to feature where the subject’s clothes come from but with you can find similar clothing to what you’re admiring online. allows you to shop using a visual search tool – you draw a box around the specific detail, shape,colour or pattern you like. Then you conduct a visual search to find items which match the criteria. So if you find yourself craving the sneakers worn by some random person in Barcelona instead of searching the internet yourself you can enter a cropped picture of said sneakers and let them do the hard work.

This is one website that shows the potential that exists for street style bloggers to make money from their website content. By connecting to a search engine like this sales could be traced back to their site and they could charge for the advertising provided. Savvy bloggers and businesses that experiment with ideas such as these may reap the benefits in the years to come.

Fashion partnerships

Partnerships between street style bloggers and the fashion industry are not surprising. After all street style bloggers write because they love fashion. Often, however street style blogs provide a stark contrast to the typical view of the fashion world as the preserve of the rich, excessively thin and beautiful as they focus on capturing the style of real people in the street going about their everyday lives. Street style blogs are inclusive; anyone can appear on their pages or read and comment on them. This inclusivity is a major part of their appeal. The popularity and unstoppable growth of these blogs provides an irresistible lure for fashion brands who want to use this popularity to their brand’s advantage.

Additionally, from a business perspective, drawing attention to your brand is always a positive. Ungaro’s use of Lindsay Lohan as a fashion designer is debatable but her success as a marketing tool, drawing attention to the brand is indisputable. But if you want to bring attention to the brand in a more positive way, why not team up with someone who actually knows and loves fashion? A partnership with a well known street style blogger may well be the answer. The Sartorialist’s partnership with Burberry is an interesting example of this.

Art of the Trench by Burberry

Burberry, recognising the popularity of street style and the power of social media, has launched an advertising campaign titled Art of the Trench dedicated to its iconic trench coat. The campaign features photos from Schuman, with photographs from more street style bloggers to follow. It invites followers to submit stories to demonstrate both how much they love their trench and how they wear it, through the brand’s interactive website. Burberry then selects its favourites to be featured on the site. As per the street style model, photographs must be taken outside and must, of course, feature a Burberry trench coat. Readers of the site can leave a comment or share the image. They can also click to ‘like’ the image and the photographs can be sorted by popularity, style, colour, gender or even weather!

Simply by interacting with customers through social media, Burberry has made a genius marketing move by letting their customers participate in their advertising campaign as they now seem more approachable as a brand. An engaged audience is far better than a passive audience however only time will tell whether their 705,000 facebook fans and numerous user-submitted photos will translate into higher sales for both the trench and the brand

Putting Antwerp on the shopping map

Given that the majority of street style blogs provide a snapshot of life in any particular city it’s no surprise that the appeal of street style bloggers has been latched onto by tourism marketers.

In October a group of eight street style/fashion bloggers from the UK, France, and Netherlands travelled to Antwerp for a weekend trip to participate in a Fashion Treasure Hunt themed event around the city. The bloggers were invited by the Antwerp Tourist Board and their trip features on the website designed to attract tourists to Antwerp’s shopping district. From the organisers perspective the objective of their visit was to showcase Antwerp as a stylish tourist and shopping destination and the coverage provided by these bloggers is far reaching in terms of their audience as all bloggers are relatively well known within the street style world.

So does this mean that we will be soon seeing partnerships between street style bloggers and their respective tourism boards, will Dublin Streets soon by sponsored by Dublin Tourism? Again, we can only speculate but for tourism boards it’s an interesting way to spread your products message especially to consumers you may not usually reach.

Enterprising bloggers

Of course some bloggers have taken matters into their own hands, rather than wait for offers to come to them; they are actively trying to monetise their blogs. A number of street style bloggers offer their services as photographers but the most interesting proposition I’ve seen so far was from Style and the City. The French blogger proposed a project to Starbucks in which she hoped to organise a worldwide Style and the City contest which would feature Starbucks in the background of street style photographs with a prize of a year’s worth of free Starbucks for the subject of the winning photo. Whilst her proposal was rejected by Starbucks, her original idea and initiative demonstrates just how many different ways there are for bloggers to diversify.

But where will it stop? Fashion, tourism, coffee, what next? There’s no doubt that street style bloggers are coming out of the internet and into the mainstream in droves, but only time will tell how many manage to convert their blogs into businesses and sustain them.


A not entirely practical, but nevertheless useful, guide on how to get through the festive season without storming out of the room, getting paralytic or wanting to kill any family members…

Ah Christmas, it’s exactly like that scene in Love Actually, right? You run out of the airport into your family’s waiting arms, the air is filled with laughter and chatter as you trundle along with your suitcase to the car park, Christmas lights twinkling overhead, carols playing…

True? Yes. But then what happens? Here’s a totally fictitious, not-at-all-related-to-my-life account of my friend’s annual return home for Christmas.

Hello Christmas. Goodbye Sanity

On the way home from the airport she likes to stop to buy some Cadbury’s chocolate/go to the bathroom/ vomit because of the going-away party the night before. Her parents refuse. She protests but her complaints are ignored. Suddenly she’s 15 years old again, sitting in the back of the car in a sulk. She arrives home and heads upstairs, but in the words of Baby Bear: “Somebody’s been sleeping in my bed!” – cue argument with her sister, which increases in volume when she sees her favourite dress, the one she’s specifically been losing weight for since her last visit home, in a dirty ball on her sister’s bedroom floor. Then her parents are shouting at them to stop fighting. Next she’s texting her best friend to ask how many hours until Boxing Day drinks in the pub and wondering where it all went wrong.

There’s something about Christmas that makes it hard for me to remember that, in another country (oh, it might as well be another world), I’m a level-headed grown-up with a job and, you know, bills and a washing machine and stuff. And by me I mean my friend, obviously.

There’s no doubt that Christmas is a unique time for families. For many it’s the only time all year when you’re all together under one roof, and such close proximity can be dangerous. Much like the evil holiday specifically conjured up to reiterate that you will be alone forever (Valentine’s Day), Christmas was created so you could compare your family’s Christmas unfavourably with the shiny, happy Christmases on the TV screen, in the movies, on the front of greeting cards… Even the little pictures on the wrapping paper are in on it.

A wonderful family Christmas

But with this handy guide, I promise to get you through the Christmas season and out the other side unscathed.              

The totally foolproof, not entirely practical Christmas survival guide

Get a child

Children: a Christmas essential

Now, just so we’re clear, I’m not recommending you make a child (Christmas is a month away, we simply don’t have time, silly). But, whoever coined the phrase “Christmas is for children” was right. Once you and your siblings have gotten past the age of believing in Santa, Christmas always seems to be missing a certain something. The only way to recapture that is to reintroduce a child into the house again. A charming orphan child loitering in the street à la Oliver Twist. But remember children, just like pets, are supposedly for life and not just for Christmas, so choose carefully. Oliver seemed very likely to form attachments, for example. Not what you want at all. So I’ll be looking for Pippi Longstocking to add sparkle and childlike delight to my Christmas. At least you know she’ll be out of there on the next ship once Christmas is over.

Presents and crackers

Whilst Santa may not bring the presents anymore, thus providing an automatic naughty-or-nice evaluation, calculating the amount of presents you’ve received compared to everyone else is a difficult habit to break. But don’t sulk if your brother gets more presents than you, be proactive. When shopping for family Christmas presents, buy yourself something you’ve wanted all year. So while you’re gazing enviously at his lavish pile of gifts and darkly thinking about how he was always the favourite, you can comfort yourself with the fact that you are the proud owner of a life-size Robert Pattinson poster. Ha, who’s jealous now?

Crackers can be tricky, too. Their noise, hats, jokes and gifts put them right up there with the piñata as the Best Idea Ever, but at Christmas, in the loving bosom of your family, the noise the crackers make when pulled may as well be a gunshot. All too often there is only one good present in the entire box and the person who gets this is the object of deep envy for a good five minutes. Accept that maybe next year you’ll be the proud owner of the miniature pack of cards and move on. Think about it, would you want it if they didn’t have it?


Dress up for Christmas

The most important time for anyone to look their best is when seeing people after a long time. You have to look better than distant cousins and uber successful to critical relatives, so start planning in advance. I’ve never understood why designers haven’t abandoned the traditional catwalk set-up for a school or family reunion setting to showcase their new clothes – I’m telling you they would quadruple their sales if they’d preyed more on people’s insecurities and desire to look better. (Note to grateful designers: I accept MasterCard and Visa).

This is exactly why the Christmas outfit is such an important institution. But, unlike the typical fashion challenges of “day to night” or “office to party”, the Christmas outfit is in a league of its own. Amongst its functions, it has to take you down the fashion catwalk that is receiving Communion at Christmas Day Mass, look amazing at the neighbourhood and family gatherings afterwards, magically expand to accommodate the mountains of food you eat at dinner, and make you look svelte and fabulous that evening when socialising, in case you bump into your ex. That’s a lot to ask of one outfit, so make sure it’s up to the job by planning meticulously.

There’s so much room for activities!

An active festive pursuit

It’s no coincidence that TV schedules fill with films around Christmas. Movies are all about escapism, and what better way to bond with your family and then escape into a different world together? I personally recommend a good box set of films to fill the time. Lord or the Rings works well because it has something for everyone, from epic battles to the touching love story between Frodo and Sam. Buy everyone a selection box to prevent fighting over the only Crunchie, and sit back and relax.

Still though, the four walls of your house can get pretty oppressive if you don’t make plans. Whilst Boxing Day in the pub may be an institution, there are lots of other activities you can do, other than run away and drink to promote familial peace and harmony: attend a carol service en masse, sneak down to the bottom of the garden for a cigarette with your sibling, help cook dinner, or assemble complicated Christmas gifts (Ok, maybe not the last one, too much potential for fighting).

All together now…

Once you’re all together again, after a year apart, you go back to being a child and squabbling with your siblings over who gets to play with the headless Barbie or the badge-making kit. Keep in mind that in another world, in which you’re a grown-up, you neither need, nor want these things. Plus spare a thought for your parents who have gotten used to a quiet house and were anticipating a lovely Christmas with their mature children.

Remember that you love them all really and nothing demonstrates love like the security of knowing you can fight with someone and still be there for them. So, embrace the family Christmas with all its quirks and foibles. It’s what you’ll be looking forward to all year and, once it finally ends, you can get the hell out of there.

Bah humbug, I mean, Merry Christmas everyone!

1/12/09 - Medina Mayrit – Madrid

Running in Heels discovered Medina Mayrit, a veritable oasis of relaxation and calm in the heart of Madrid that will chase the winter blues away…

Who would have thought that you could become more relaxed than you’d ever been in your life in the centre of Madrid? Not me. As I battled my way through the manic post-work commuters and into the busy Sol Plaza, I was stressed, annoyed and tired. Could there be a more perfect candidate to review a relaxing city spa? I think not.

Medina Mayrit means ‘the city of Madrid’ and it draws heavily on the city’s Muslim past to create the perfect spa experience. So armed only with a bikini I arrived anticipating the Best History Lesson Ever. Located a mere five minutes walk from the Sol metro stop, the red building stands out in the surrounding cityscape. This is the first clue that you’re about to experience something different.

There is a talk at the beginning but unfortunately it is only available in Spanish. Non–Spanish speakers can request a card explaining the rules of the baths and massages in English. The bathing experience begins once they finish their talk and escort you to the changing rooms hidden behind the imposing door. Once inside, you have truly escaped the hustle and bustle of the city centre.

Medina Mayrit adheres to the decor, design and atmosphere of its Arab roots with baths of hot, warm and freezing cold water. There is also a beautiful marble sauna and a tea room located within the baths where you can relax and sip the delicious sweet peppermint tea which is available on tap.

Soft music and flickering candles make Medina Mayrit a truly relaxing place to be

The walls are painted in warm colours and there are candles flickering throughout the baths. The request for silence from bath users means that it is rare to hear any other noises aside from whispers. Music plays softly in the background and everyone wanders from bath to bath at their leisure. There are small waterfalls throughout the baths so if you close your eyes you can drift away whilst listening to the water and the music. I spent the majority of my time floating on my back whilst gazing up the ceiling. Bliss.

There is no set routine to follow although a circuit of warm, hot, warm and finally, cold is recommended. A warning though: the cold baths are not for the faint of heart! They are designed in a plunge pool style which few users brave but the drastic change in temperature is an excellent idea because the contrast in temperature between the hot and oh so cold bath has a strong stimulating effect on blood stream. The subsequent sweating also means the toxins are being eliminated from your body.

Following on from the baths, you can also reserve an optional massage. A member of staff will collect you from the baths and the massages take place in a separate annex. I received the 30 minute relaxing massage which concentrated on my back and legs and nearly sent me to sleep! My only complaint would be that the massage room is communal and I received my massage right alongside complete stranger. However once the masseuse’s magic hands began their work I have to confess I forgot all about him.

The bath experience costs €23 and lasts for one hour. Massages are optional and prices range from €37 for the relaxing massage to €49.50 for the Al Andalus Ritual Massage. Keep in mind that these prices are for peak times and you can take advantage of slightly lower massage prices between 10am and midday and from 2pm to 4pm during the week. Anyone who fancies a late night dip is in luck as the spa stays open until midnight!

If you really don’t want to leave, adjoining the spa facilities is a teteria (a tea room with shisha pipes) and restaurant with traditional dishes accompanied by Andalucian music and a belly dancing spectacle where you can continue your Arab inspired ‘history lesson’. As I sailed home on the metro afterwards, full of relaxation and goodwill towards mankind and metro users, I vowed to head back here again and again. And I confess, a mere two weeks later I’ve already got the first stamp on my loyalty card!

For more information, see Medina Mayrit’s website (in Spanish and English)

Medina Mayrit,
C/Atocha, 14
28012 Madrid
Metro: Sol or Tirso de Molina

1/12/09 - Animated Films – Fun for all the Family?

Animated films with some in jokes for ‘grown ups’ have suddenly made taking your little cousin to the cinema fun again. But how, why and thanks to who has this trend emerged?

Something has happened in the world of animated movies.

Traditionally the preserve of children, in recent years they’ve become just as popular with adults – and not necessarily just the parents who accompany their kids. Jokes, one liners, soundtracks and actors have been carefully selected to appeal to the grownups, thus elevating animated films out of the babysitter’s trek to the Saturday afternoon matinee and into our DVD collections.

The fact that animated movies are now targeting adults as much as (if not more than) their primary audience of children is a much discussed topic. A quick Google search can lead you to a range of complaints from outraged parents at the content of selected ‘childern’s’ films, such as the following comments about Shrek: ‘I very seriously doubt that we will attend another movie made by DreamWorks if this is what you think is intended for children’ and ‘Please consider the impact your productions have on children and be responsible’. Is such outrage merited? Have animated movies really lost sight of who their true audience is?

(Looking towards Lord Farquaad's Castle) 
Shrek: Do you think maybe he's compensating for something?

Once upon a time…

Adults have always been part of the intended audience for animation, although, unlike Shrek, animation has not always been aimed at children and adults at the same time. The Simpsons is similar to Shrek in that it appeals to both adults and children however the adult themes it deals with – Homer’s alcoholism, marital affairs, mockery of the overly Christian Flanders family – has resulted in many people deeming it unsuitable for children also.

Betty Boop, the first cartoon character to depict a fully sexualised woman, appeared in cartoons and comic strips which were aimed at adults initially, only later changing to appeal to a younger market. However the demise of Betty Boop was attributed in part to this change in direction. Nevertheless, her legacy lives on today with a vast array of merchandise which appeals to all ages and she still reigns as one of the undisputed queens of animated sex symbols (rivalling Jessica Rabbit, of course). Other animated productions are more obviously targeted towards teens and adults – among them Beavis and Butthead, Ren and Stimpy and my personal favourite Daria.

Betty Boop: Pin-up for kids?

Disney may be seen by some as the kindly grandfather of animated movies in comparison to the evil Dreamworks studios who have created these satiric animations targeted at hybrid audiences. However, whilst past Disney films did not subvert the stories they told, they did push the limits of children’s endurance with terrifying characters like the Wicked Stepmother in Snow White and the Evil Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty. (There is also more than one person who has set about proving the existence of subliminal sexual messages in Disney films although this theory appears to have more cynics then supporters). The controversy with a film like Shrek lies in its dual target audience…

And then there was Shrek

Whilst Shrek did not introduce the idea of satire and appealing to adults and children in animated movies, there is no doubt that the success of the movie spurred on similar productions afters its release.

Whilst the story of Shrek contained important moral lessons for children (e.g. don’t judge on appearances), it also subverted the traditional prince and princess story entirely by having the ogre getting the girl and the fair princess turning into an ogress. Its all star cast including Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz was easily recognisable for the adults in the audience; the soundtrack featured tracks from The Proclaimer’s ‘I’m a Believer’ to Hallelujah was designed to appeal to those who recognised the songs; while the endless quips and one-liners were clearly intended for the grown-ups. While Although such humour is a welcome relief from saccharine fairytales of old it may have been a step too far for some.

The major debate about Shrek rests on the fact that a lot of what is said is not suitable for children. Whilst explaining some of the jokes to children (specifically the one about Lord Farquaad’s castle) might cause you to cringe, questions about why people are laughing are inevitable one a child gets past a certain age. Similarly the humour in A Shark’s Tale, specifically in scenes such as the shark’s AA-style meeting to deal with their fish eating addiction, the humour is directly aimed at the adults receptive to its double meaning, which bypasses its younger audience completely.

A Shark's Tale

Money, money, money…

Ultimately, the existence of a classification system means that each parent should make the decision himself about whether or not a movie is suitable for their child(ren). Shrek, for example, was rated PG (‘Parental Guidance’) in the UK. If parents deem a movie unsuitable for their children, it is their responsibility to make sure they don’t see it.

Nowadays, a typical fairytale movie is more surprising than a parody with movies like Enchanted being marketed to a wide age range. Regardless of complaints from a minority, the indisputable success of the satire formula means that studios will keep producing movies like these for as long as there is an audience who wants to see them, and they keep the studios in profit

1/12/09: Contributor to Running In Heels 'If All Else Fails' Playlist

The tracks that will guarantee you’ll get everyone dancing at your house party if the atmosphere dies!

I’m a sucker for a remix and this one is party perfection if only for the amusement value of an electro Backstreet Boys cover. Plus it’s just so danceable… The insistent electro beat combined with the lyrics that you can’t forget (even if you want to) will get everyone moving, or dare I say, rocking their body?!