Taking a Tumble

Tumblr Taps Bloggers for New York Fashion Week: Take Two!

No monetization strategy, no problems.
tumblr lz322vlddj1qb94r2o1 500 Tumblr Taps Bloggers for New York Fashion Week: Take Two!

The Fantastic Five! (via thatluciegirl.tumblr)

On Tumblr’s staff blog today, the company kicked off  New York Fashion Week by announcing a partnership with Milk Studios to cover the event . The post was written was Matt Hackett, Tumblr’s former VP of engineering who switched over to head of brand strategy & marketing in September. Milk Studios is a photography studio and conglomerate of “seven companies that stand at the intersection of fashion, photography, art, and film.”

As part of the partnership, Milk Studios put together a team of five “local emerging voices in fashion from Tumblr to cover the events,” to cover the events. Tumblr has set up a home base for all Fashion Week coverage using an NYFW tag, or you can follow these five bloggers on their individual Tumblrs: Alex, Bryant, Chloe, Lucie and Miguel. Katherine Barna, Tumblr’s head of communications, told Betabeat by phone that this is the third season in a row Tumblr is partnering with Milk Studios.

Betabeat was the first to break the news that during New York Fashion Week in September at least a couple fashion brands were extremely distraught over the way Tumblr handled attempts to monetize the semi-annual event. At the time, a proposal was leaked detailing Tumblr’s plans to sell ads and exposure to willing brands:

The proposal asked for $100,000 to have 4 of Tumblr’s “select bloggers” produce 15 posts for the brand’s Tumblr during the week, with the “exact nature of the content to be agreed upon prior to the start of the week.” For $150,000 brands could get ad placement on the official NY Fashion week Tumblr. For $350,000 they could get ad placement on the Tumblr tagged “fashion” page. For $10,000 big fashion brands could spend a little quality time with the 20 select bloggers at a private event. Product placement was also offered “At cost”, with the “influential tastemakers” being promised at a group rate.

Fashion brands eager to embrace Tumblr’s crisp photo-heavy layout were nonetheless upset at the prospect of paying hefty sums without the analytics to back up their investment; the bloggers in question were not aware their services were being offered for a price. A couple months after the PR debacle, Rich Tong, Tumblr’s heavily-criticized fashion director, had left the company. A replacement has yet been named.

Betabeat has since learned that that proposal was a rough initial plan that was never actually implemented. What’s more, this time around, the blogging platform is not making any attempts to monetize Fashion Week, confirmed Ms. Barna. Rather, Tumblr is merely offering the NYFW page, which features a background image with glimpses of Anna Wintour in the front row and a sea of photographers, as a way to find all the coverage in one place.

“It’s just a beautiful portal for folks to feel like they are experiencing the New York Fashion Week,” said Ms. Barna. “We have five bloggers, all local to New York since New York is an amazing fashion capital, so it’s great to five emerging voices.”  Just five?”It’s smaller than last season,” she acknowledged.

To hear the bloggers tell it, the mood this time around seems more buoyant. Lucie, who blogs under ThatLucieGirl, could hardly believe it was happening:

It was so great meeting everyone this morning and so exciting receiving our little Tumblr swag bags with our color-coded schedules inside. The Tumblr offices are pretty damn cute too (exposed brick, snacks + Stumptown coffee, a ping pong table, and balloons). It was pretty surreal listening to Valentine list all the people and places we’ll be going to — and what our all-access passes get us into.

I feel like I spent all last week thinking this was all a dream, and now it’s really happening.

Any fashion brands not feeling so happy-go-lucky with Tumblr? Let us know: tips@betabeat.com.

Follow Nitasha Tiku on Twitter or via RSS. ntiku@observer.com