Posts in Culture
Get on my Instagram

My relationship with Instagram has long been a tumultuous one. To start, I refused vehemently to get the app. Then, of course, I developed major FOMO and caved. Then, year after year, I saw how Instagram came to increasingly control everyone's life. Everything revolved around Instagram. How to get more followers, how to get someone to tag you in their post, how to become Insta-FAMOUS and thereby live a life of luxury on a yacht with P-Diddy throwing dolla-bills into the ocean.

I am on Instagram. Yes. But I haven't always enjoyed it. And, I'm guessing you haven't either. 

Jennifer Inglis Johnson's Shut Ins State Park

Wow. Look how pretty.

How transparent do you want to be?

Anxiety. Self-doubt. Severe, crippling fear that you are on the OUTSIDE... looking in at strangers/brands/friends who have something wonderful that you do not have, that you NEVER will have. Magic. Sparkles. Heart eyes. It isn't real. 

Often I have wondered (and continue to wonder) why I am even on Instagram. Why do I have it on my phone? Why do I look through my feed? Why do I take time out of my day to post a photo or a story? Is it worthwhile? Is it productive? Is this setting a good example for my daughter and/or my friends? Am I fueling the fire that holds the hearts of people who feel inadequate?

But a part of me likes it. And it isn't even necessarily because of the likes or followers or the warm fuzzy feeling I get when someone (my friend who I haven't seen in 3 years) leaves a comment saying "BEAUT".

There is something therapeutic about sharing a part of who you are and making a connection with someone else. 

In the past I have unfollowed every account (down to zero) and started from scratch. The people whose photos you see in your feed are a reflection of who you are and what you want your mind to be filled with. Do you want to see women/girls/brands every day showing bikini bods? Do you want a feed full of #blessed freebies that leave you wondering why you aren't getting those? Do you want art and history and culture? Do you want to see your friend's kids? I don't know. What I want changes and that is why the people I follow are always evolving. 

Just like five years ago, when I was fighting the temptation to get an iPhone AND Instagram, today I am fighting the temptation to follow accounts that make me (ultimately) feel bad about myself. And that changes. Sometimes I can handle following my friends who I haven't seen in a few years who are doing amazing things in amazing places. Sometimes I feel happy when I see their photos and excited for them and the life they have created. But sometimes it makes me feel like I'm missing out. Sometimes it makes me flirt with feelings of regret. And that isn't something I want for myself. 

All this to say, be conscious of who you follow on Instagram (or any social channel). The images and words have an impact (whether you realize it at the moment of consumption or not). You have a choice about what you consume. Input goodness and hopefully, then, output goodness too.

See below for a few accounts that offer me a bit of fresh air.

21435595_981378975336822_9206879302308593664_n(1).jpg

Insider Access

PAUL SMITH head of marketing & digital

21435704_300512363757704_8717175162807517184_n(1).jpg

Unpretentious Luxury

Sarcastic. Beautiful. Plus, a killer tattoo.

21373674_169122926985174_1558400227331801088_n(1).jpg

Abstract Obsessions

Unexpected and oh-so-covetable. 

 

 

Sam Fox School of Design

Creativity undeniably feeds off creativity. When I have motivated determined people around me I can't help but also feel a sense of drive.

No one captures the essence of optimistic ambition quite like a student who is about to graduate. A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting the Sam Fox School at Washington University to meet the graduating class of fashion design students. They were in the process of making the finishing touches to the collections that they have been working on for the past year. The mix of ideas and materials was so interesting to see - there was everything from hard wearing practical denim to a dress made out of glittering confetti. Inspiration came from peeling subway signs, the solitary nature of desert landscapes and often mixed everyday apparel with a thoughtful restructuring. 

Sometimes all it takes is a little unexpected spark to reignite a waning interest. Thank you Claire for inviting me over and thanks to the students for reminding me that there is beauty and opportunity all around.

Ella Young Collection
Fauxgerty

Whenever you can, try to support new talent and young brands. Getting a label off the ground is tricky. There is so much competition and people are more discerning than ever about how and where they spend their money.

Locally made. Sustainable. Cruelty-free. 

These aren't just terms that apply to our food but also, now, to our clothes. Fauxgerty, a little shop nestled down a side street in the ultra chic Central West End neighborhood in St. Louis, is determined to fight the wastefulness that runs rampant in the fashion industry. There's recycled polyester in their faux suede jackets and upcycled plastic bottles in their lining. The brand's founder, Chrissy Fogerty, is proving that sleek edgy designs and a mindfulness for the environment can go hand-in-hand. This is something that discerning customers are tapping into and truly want to support. Not only are Fauxgerty's buttery soft biker jackets and slouchy worn-in tees something you'll truly want to wear they also represent a greater shift in consumption and production - a visible reminder to buy less and shop smart.

Fauxgerty has been selected as a contestant in the Caleres Fashion Entrepreneur Competition. Five fashion makers will face off in a shark tank (or dragon's den if your in the UK) style competition where a $10,000 prize will be given to one winner and a $5,000 prize to a runner-up. The winner will also receive mentorship and guidance from industry experts. Establishing a new brand is a trying endeavor and I'm excited that St. Louis is taking steps to help nourish the talent that's present in the city.

I'm partnering with St. Louis Fashion Week to give away two tickets to the event taking place on November 10th at 6:30pm. If you'd like to come (and hang out with me) please leave a comment on this post indicating that you'd like to attend. Travel and accommodation costs are not included in this giveaway so please only enter if you are able to make it to St. Louis for the event. 

If you'd like to purchase tickets please head here.

In collaboration with St. Louis Fashion Week.

Firecracker Press

By happenstance I found myself at a print fair back in June put on by The Firecracker Press. While I was there I realized a few things: Pyro makes the best pizza in St Louis (seriously), exploring areas that appear to be out of your comfort zone is a completely worthwhile endeavor and the print world is a mysterious creature which I want to know more about.

A few weeks later I headed back for a tour of the company's design and print studio. My knowledge of print is extremely limited but I'm pretty mesmerized by it. It's one of those magical things that is all around but often goes unnoticed. I'm really interested in the way fonts are put together and used to form a brand's identity. I always thought those sorts of things were done (and dreamt up) in far away places atop towering skyscrapers set within big city skylines.

Not so.

The Firecracker Press is based on the outskirts of downtown St Louis in a completely inconspicuous neighborhood. Walking by you would never guess that within its discreet walls sits a collection of antique printers used to bring together modern design with techniques long forgotten. 

 

Eric Woods founded The Firecracker Press back in 2002 to bring together his love for graphic design and traditional forms of craftsmanship. The enterprise truly does exactly what he set out to accomplish. At a time when cheap design is available in abundance it's refreshing to see an organization creating in a way that is more time consuming, thoughtful and labour intensive. The invention of print was revolutionary but nowadays printers are often reserved to offices and university libraries. With so much moving online it's easy to overlook the importance and significance of printers. To see antique ones being brought back to life and serving their original purpose through restoration is inspiring. 

The Firecracker Press create completely bespoke materials using old printing techniques that have been cast aside by most others in their field. Equipment that would normally be viewed as out-of-date is restored and brought back to life. The studio is like a working museum that fuses functionality and commerce with history. 

The company is big on humor. Many of their pieces touch on the everyday idiosyncrasies of life. Dirty diapers. Dutch ovens. Dancing naked in the summer with the fan on. These are all topics referenced in their most recent collection of greeting cards. They are simple yet sweet and capture the imagination of any onlooker that is open to having a cheeky laugh.

They also do a great selection of items that focus on St Louis.

If you're passing through the city, or even if you're a local resident, visit one of their two locations on Cherokee or North 14th Street. There are tons of quirky cards and notebooks to be purchased and prints to make a statement on your wall. 

All the items serve as a great reminder of the diversity and talent that can be found in the most unexpected places of our city.

Massive thank you to Missy at The Firecracker Press for inviting me down. 

SLAM Dunk

It's really easy to get down on a city like St Louis. It's not a place you often hear people talking about - at least not in a positive way. It doesn't stand out as a cultural highlight or rank highly on the list of most people's travel list. But that's what adds to its charm.

St Louis is the sort of city that requires its visitor to work a little.

Don't bother googling '10 best things to do in St Louis' or turn to Yelp for a list of our best restaurants. It's not that easy. The same things will come up every time. Check out the City Museum, hit up Pappy's Smokehouse, go up to the top of the Arch. These are all great and I'd recommend anyone to do them but it's the less obvious things about St Louis that really make it a treasure. 

Take the St Louis Art Museum (SLAM) for example. 

It is overflowing with world class paintings that, in no way, look like they belong in the Midwest. If you are interested in the big guns then Picasso, Monet and Chagall should float your boat. If you'd like something more off-beat then there are Warhols, Segal and Lichtensteins to tickle your fancy. Go down stairs and you'll find ancient artifacts. Or just wander around the main hall and oggle at the larger than life flower displays set against ceilings that reach up higher than the sky. 

There is truly something for everyone.

Even those that are uninterested in art can take refuge outside under the 56 foot stainless steel tree that casually sits in the grounds next the museum. So inconspicuous is it that every time we take people to the SLAM I have to point it out lest it go unnoticed.

Much like the museum itself and St Louis as a whole, unless someone takes the time to point out how awesome it is, it might get overlooked. And that, I'm afraid, would be a terrible shame.

Tank top from Old Navy, Rowan pant borrowed from Pink Sheep Heiress, slides from Urban Outfitters, Nixon customized watch courtesy of Sane Communications, canvas bag from Ganni and bittersweet hair tie bracelet courtesy of The Grommet.

Words by Jennifer Inglis

Photos taken at The St Louis Art Museum by The Style Crusader

Tate Foley

When I pulled up to the location of Tate Foley's studio Sunday afternoon I was sure I was in the wrong place.

Tucked down an idyllic suburban street in Creve Coeur, it was the last place I expected to find this artist's abode. I knocked on the door reluctantly, half expecting no one to be home but was greeted by Tate who was all smiles and warm welcomes. 

We headed down to his basement where his studio is located. There was a big Riso printer in the corner and shelves lined with design books and knick knacks. Tate gave us a whirlwind tour, showing how the Riso printer works, and unveiling some of the hidden gems of his studio - including a pack of playing cards with dinosaurs attacking humans in odd situations. After looking at a selection of Tate's work one thing was clear, everything he makes has a hint of humor. He plays with words and takes references from pop culture - one slogan he has used is Obama's ambiguous 'win the future' campaign. Tate is a printmaker who's forging his own unique path in the art industry. He has published comics, made numerous small pamphlet style books and makes pieces large enough to take center stage on anyones wall. 

A piece of Tate's work is going to be auctioned off this Friday evening at the Contemporary Art Museum in St Louis. Art: 314 is a silent auction taking place at 8pm. Tickets are currently on sale through the CAM website.

Follow Tate on Tumblr and on Instagram.

Tate Foley
Is it OK to use Pinterest as a source?

Ah, technology - too often you come in as a white horse but damage us in ways we'd never expect. While I've been a long supporter of Pinterest I've recently noticed a problem with the social networking site. It's not an inherent issue with the concept itself, but rather with the way people are using it. 

On Instagram I've come across lots of posts where people hashtag Pinterest as the source of their photos - often on images that could easily be mistaken as their own. The #inspiration and #pinterest tags are the only thing included to indicate it's not actually their feet in the photo or their view out the plane window. Is this OK? It's only made worse by the fact that often times the photos belong to bloggers that I know and they aren't getting credited. There are whole Instagram accounts that feature nothing but inspiration photos. Some of them have tens of thousands of followers and don't credit where a single photo comes from. 

I'm guilty of having done similar things on this blog. When I do inspiration posts (like this one) there's a string of images and the source links back to my Pinterest boards. Each individual image also links back to the original pin it came from. But is this really an acceptable way to cite my sources or am I just as bad as the people on Instagram that stick in a cheeky #pinterest under their shot?

Tell me what you think. I'm on the fence on this one.

Photos from a selection on Pinterest.

Should bloggers be at fashion week?

The same conversation has been going on since 2010 when the spark that lit the growing hatred towards bloggers at fashion week first set flame.

No doubt, it was when Tavi Gevinson wore an oversized hat to a Dior show, thereby obstructing the view of everyone sitting behind her, that the anger really started to boil.

It has been four years and, while we may have learned a few common courtesies regarding what is acceptable to wear on the front row, we are still having the same discussion about whether bloggers deserve to be at fashion week. The resounding answer that comes from within the industry is no. Shows are overcrowded, the atmosphere resembles a circus and, as a result, print media and buyers are incapable of doing their jobs.

Ultimately, it is the designer that suffers. 

But bloggers are still coming to the shows and, these days, no one bats an eyelid when Susie Lau is positioned on the front row next to heavyweights like Anna Wintour or Suzy Menkes - as I'm sure you know, she is a blogger. This leads me to think that the debate we're having is misguided. The issue is no longer about whether bloggers should be allowed at fashion week. Instead we should be looking at which bloggers get to attend and what they can offer in return for their ticket. 

IMG_1923.jpg
IMG_1925.jpg

This seems like a simple issue and one that PRs should have a firm grasp on. They are the ones who decide on ticket allocation so surely they have a systematic approach to dealing with bloggers. I contacted a number of London based PR teams who organize shows for fashion week and none were willing to comment on why they invite bloggers to shows or what they hope to achieve through sending them a ticket. I was told repeatedly that the issue was 'too sensitive' for them to weigh in on. But really it is rather straightforward. Do they look at stats? Social media following? Quality of content produced? Do they try to gauge their overall influence? No comment was given. Their insistence on remaining secretive hurts both the blogger and the designer they represent. If there was transparency regarding ticket allocation then bloggers would know what PRs deem important and could thereby act accordingly. 

For print media and buyers there is a clear hierarchy regarding seat allocation but when it comes to bloggers it often feels random. In the past, I have been given front row tickets to shows by designers I have never supported or previously written about. Other times I've been denied access to shows that I've attended for years and repeatedly covered. I spoke to a number of bloggers and they all said they had experienced the same treatment. As a blogger, if you attend a show you are likely to feel confused and bewildered by seat allocation. The incentive to post about a show is reduced when you are on uncertain terms with the designer and their PR team. You are left wondering if they value your coverage or if you are just there to fill an empty seat.

IMG_1927.jpg
IMG_1928.jpg

To get to the heart of the issue regarding bloggers at fashion week I contacted a few designers directly.

In the same way I did with PRs, I asked them how they decide which bloggers to invite to their shows and what they hope to achieve by sending them a ticket. Everyone I spoke to was willing and eager to comment. None of the designers ranked blog stats as being an important factor when deciding whether to invite a blogger to their show. Repeatedly I was told that having a relationship with the blogger was of utmost importance. Nik Thakkar, for example, expressed a desire to establish long term ambassadors for his label Ada + Nik. Vin & Omi told me that one of the reasons they value bloggers is because of their ability to put their brand in touch with people who aren't part of the fashion industry but could become potential customers. Charlie May acknowledged that bloggers are key in creating instant buzz through social media but also recognized that for a blogger catwalk reviews often receive the least traffic. For her, it's also important that bloggers be seen wearing her designs because that's what helps boost sales. Each designer expressed an interest in having bloggers post about their show but only if they genuinely saw something they wanted to feature. There were also concerns raised about poor coverage coming out from bloggers that are unable to take clear photos or write a coherent review. 

IMG_1968-2.jpg
IMG_1971.jpg

As far as I see it, there are two types of bloggers that should be invited to fashion week.

First, there are the ones that are 'online famous'. These are the big guns who often attend shows in every city and whose mere presence is good publicity for the brand. They are the equivalent of a celebrity except they have the added bonus of being social media savvy. They'll likely Tweet and Instagram live from the show. They'll probably hashtag FROW along with a photo of their designer clad feet next to the catwalk and that's great because it generates instant buzz. Second, there are the bloggers that are great 'content producers'. These people will Tweet and Instagram too, albeit to a smaller audience, but there is also the chance that they will post a show review if they identify with the collection. They will likely appreciate their ticket and, therefore, feel a loyalty to the designer whose show they've attended. Famous bloggers and people who can produce great content are rare in the blogging world but they are the people that need to be sought out and invited to fashion week. The others should be left out. 

Designers, along with their PR team, should devise a strategic plan when it comes to allocating tickets to bloggers. They should think about the brand's image and what sort of person they want to be marketing to. This shouldn't be an afterthought and time should be allocated to properly think though it. Bloggers that are invited just to fill seats should be left out. The aim of a fashion show should not be to generate the loudest buzz but instead to create one that is well suited to the designer in question.

Photos taken by Jennifer Inglis at the John Rocha SS14 show.

How much Photoshop is too much?

It starts out harmlessly enough. Tweak the colour balance, adjust the light, change the contrast. Maybe you soften the skin, remove a pimple, brighten your eyes.

Oh, that nasty scar you got when you were a kid? It kind of distracts from the overall beauty of the picture. You might as well remove that too. Actually, come to think of it, your legs are looking a little pudgy and your bum is sticking out a bit. Might as well suck those in while you're at it.

Most of us have access to photo editing equipment. There's nothing wrong with using it. Every photo I publish on this blog gets a bit of tweaking before it goes live. I even run my images through some software before posting them on Instagram. Because why settle for reality when you can publish a romanticized version of it? 

But there's a problem here. 

Blogs and the people behind them are supposed to be different than traditional print media. We're supposed to represent normal people. But it's hard to settle for normal when you can so easily manipulate reality into looking a bit more perfect. If you're a blogger, you might have noticed that you are up against some tough competition. It's becoming increasingly common for bloggers to double as models and to work with professional photographers when taking outfit shots. The result? Pictures that look a whole lot more like they belong in a magazine than on a blog. 

Do bloggers owe it to their readers to present a realistic picture of themselves? Is it OK to use editing software to improve images that go up on blogs? If so, how far is too far when it comes to manipulation? I'm sure we'd likely all agree that what I've done below (to the pictures on the right side) is taking it a step too far. But is this the direction we're headed in? If there's an increasing pressure for blog pictures to look as good as images that appear in magazines then is this not the next logical step? 

By the way, I edited these pictures using a free app on my phone. No fancy skills required.

The Issue of Age

The fashion industry thrives on our insecurities. Billboards and magazines are inundated with photos of beautiful flawless people draped in luxury and indulgence. You are designed to want when you see these images. If you're anything like me, you want the perfectly smooth skin, the white teeth, the sparkling eyes. You want the thin waist, the straight nose, the full lips. You want that handbag that costs 2 grand. You want the life, the image, the feeling that is depicted. 

And, the older you get the more you might want the youth. 

Because, it's undeniable, the fashion industry is flooded with young blood. Sure, there has been a rise in the return of nineties supermodels. It's not uncommon to see Christy Turlington on the cover of a magazine and God knows you can't move for advertisements that feature Kate Moss. But the issue of age is such a problem within the industry that the CFDA's President, Diane Von Furstenberg, began asking for IDs from models at castings to ensure no one was booked that was under the age of sixteen. Sixteen. What place does a fifteen year old, fourteen year old, thirteen year old have displaying clothes at a fashion show that are designed to be sold to women. Women with curves and lumps that, likely, resemble nothing close to a teenager. 

What a step in the right direction then is The Row's Pre-Fall collection which features Linda Rodin who is in her sixties. It seems a strange concept for a luxury brand to feature models that are, in most cases, far too young to afford the clothes that are being shown. The Row's target audience is not a teenager and so why should its models be that young? By contrast, Burberry's latest campaign features a grouping of fresh talent that are as young as sixteen. While there is no denying the fresh-faced charm of Jean Campbell, I would have rather liked to see a slew of more aged British heavyweights donning those iconic trench coats instead of a bunch of high-schoolers. 

Take note world, Mary Kate and Ashley have struck a chord with this one.

Images via Style.com