Let the agency games begin
Frockwriter has devoted quite some coverage to the developing blogger story.
From some of the earliest stories on Tavi Gevinson, Bryan Grey Yambao aka Bryanboy (both for Frockwriter and also WWD) and the model-turned-blogger and blogger-turned-model phenoms, it has been fascinating to track.
The story just shifted into a new gear in Australia with Sydney model agency Chic Management quietly getting into the blogger representation game in quite a big way a fortnight ago.
To date the agency's brand new Chic Blogger Management division has signed eight either Australian or Australian-based bloggers: Jessica Stein from Tuula; Sara Donaldson from Harper & Harley; stylist Ilona Hamer/You Are Not Ilona; photographer Lee Oliveira; Micah Gianneli and Jesse Maricic/Côntrole Créatif; television celebrity and author Sally Obermeder/Swiish (who has been repped by the Chic Celebrity division for a number of years); and beauty vlogger Chloe Morello.
Although Morello is hardly a household name - in fact prior to checking Chic's individual blogger bios, we had never heard of her - she claims to boast two million page views per month. Which would make her, if not the best-known of Chic's new blogger stable, then at least the blogger with the widest audience, with almost triple the figures of the agency's next biggest blogger by monthly page impressions, Stein.
Yes, media kits frequently exaggerate figures. However Morello's YouTube account indicates 25million views and 468,000 subscribers, so who knows.
Meanwhile, it's difficult to fathom Chic's exact interest in Hamer, who may well be able to claim to having been a former Vogue Australia staffer, but whose blog nevertheless apparently boasts an infinitesimal 5,000 PIs per month.
When Frockwriter re-checked the Chic website again this morning, the agency had literally just added Stein. And this is a fairly significant appointment, we feel, when you consider that unlike so many personal style bloggers who have segued into modelling, 5'11" Stein not only has model looks, but also the requisite traditional model height. Might her next New York Fashion Week appearance not be, as per usual, getting snapped by the world's street style press, posting a selfie from the front row or co-hosting an event for a brand such as Tiffany's, but on the runway itself? Frankly, nothing would surprise us at this moment in time.
Frockwriter understands that Neely is well en route to beating Scott 'The Sartorialist' Schuman to the title of the world's first million dollar blogger - if she is not, in fact, already there. Next is on record that some bloggers are attracting six figure contracts. Neely already has numerous lucrative ad campaigns in the bag in the US and Asia and she was, we understand, not only the first blogger to have a national advertising campaign in the US but the first Times Square billboard - both for her 2010 Forever 21 campaign.
“We will continue to pursue opportunities and find that kind of six figure and hopefully, seven figure, deal” IMG Models senior vice president and managing director Ivan Bart told me in September vis-à-vis the company's growing interest in the blogger arena, during an interview for this WWD story about Grey Yambao's recent defection from Creative Artists Agency to IMG Models.
“Now the internet is really taking hold” added Bart. “There is a whole generation of kids who don’t watch television but see it all online and are connected to many of these bloggers and people who are writers. I think the advertising world has been taken by surprise. And now they’re catching on that, ‘Wait a second, I should really be looking at maybe this person or that person versus the obvious’. Because when they do the math and they figure it out, these people are actually scoring bigger numbers and connecting to more people”.
IMG Models is a division of IMG, the world's biggest sports and lifestyle marketing agency.
Prior to Grey Yambao, IMG Models had already signed New York-based stylist, casting director and blogger, Natalie Joos to its 'Special Bookings' board - and, according to Bart, also brokered some deals in an unofficial capacity on behalf of Emily Weiss from Into The Gloss. Although presumably Bart was not talking about the US$2million in venture capital that has since been raised by Weiss and her colleagues.
In February, IMG tentatively placed a first foot in blogger waters by recruiting Danielle Bernstein/We Wore What to cover its IMG Fashion division's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, the anchor event of New York Fashion Week. Like Weiss, Bernstein was not actually signed to any division of IMG.
Two months later, however, as revealed by Frockwriter, IMG Australia signed Australian personal style blogger Nicole Warne/Gary Pepper Girl to its IMG Talent division. Simultaneously upping the ante of its initial - and one has to say, almost invisible - New York Fashion Week blogger initiative via Bernstein, by recruiting Warne to anchor the live stream program of that month's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia event.
In the interim, IMG's Australian Talent division has also since signed another Sydney blogger, stylist Romy Frydman/Style Me Romy.
Frockwriter understands that IMG was considering talking to Stein as well. But either they were too slow off the mark or Chic Management offered better terms, because that's who Stein has gone with. As is also the case with Nicole Warne, the Jessica Stein blogger "package" comes complete with almost 700,000 Instagram followers.
It must represent a sweeter-than-usual victory for Chic Management, which lost not only its former general manager, Danielle Ragenard, to IMG to head up the new IMG Models Australia division in July last year, but also models Miranda Kerr, Nicole Trunfio, Kaila Hart, Louise van de Vorst and Alexandra Agoston.
Although some factions of Australia's legacy media appear to have been blindsided by blogger pulling power, at the end of the day money talks and there is a lot of it currently being thrown the way of bloggers.
Stand by to see if other Australian modelling and mainstream talent agencies start taking them a little more seriously.