The Fashionbombdaily.com is a destination for urban girls (a.k.a. those of us living in our own concrete jungle) to get a taste of runways, editorials, and beauty and style advice, all from someone who they could easily go shopping, exercise or just hang out and talk about fashion with.
Claire Sulmers, the editor-in-chief of Fashionbombdaily.com, is a seasoned journalist with stints at New York, Newsweek, Conde Nast and Italian Vogue under her waiting-to-be-blogged-about belt. In 2006, after feeling unhappy at her job, she decided to start the site out of a need for a more enjoyable and unconventional 9-5.
Now approaching it’s fifth year, Claire and her growing crew haven’t slowed down one bit, posting unique content like solving “Mail Bombs,” which identify what celebrities are wearing, posting “Fashion Bombshell and Bombers of the Day,” which showcase readers’ personal style (that either garner praise or scathing reviews from commenters), and in “Hot or Hmm,” which allow readers to decide whether they love or hate celebs sartorial choices on the red carpet or in a street style snap.
I talked to Claire about how she started her addictive blog, where she sees fashion journalism and blogging in the future and who her influences are in the industry.
Where did you get the initial idea to start the blog?
I have always loved to shop, to write. I am a journalist and I was unhappy at my job and looking to move on. At the time, I was carrying around my notebook to start a website, Clairesulmers.com, and I wanted something that was a little more fun too. I thought about what I wanted to write about – I love fashion and writing so that’s how it started.
What experience did you have in the fashion industry before blogging and how did you become a fashion writer?
I did research and reporting for the fashion and beauty department [at Real Simple] and interviewed people like Clinton Kelly and Stacy ofWhat Not To Wear. I used that knowledge [to start the blog].
Did you expect the blog to take off and grow as fast as it did?
I never thought it could be anything. For me, it was fun. I’m not sure what my goals were with it – I was encouraged when I just started and I checked my numbers and there were 300 people reading a day. I never envisioned it would get to this point where I have a lot of access and response from brands.
You have unique posts on your blog like “Fashion Bombshell of the Day” and “Mail Bombs.” Since these are geared toward interaction with your readers, was there a request for posts like those initially or did you ask for reader submissions?
When I first started Mail Bombs it was in 2006, and people asked for obscure things – like socks – and I started the Mail Bombs thing for questions like “What’s Beyonce wearing?” And at the time, not a lot of people were doing that and it was also easy to find out what they were wearing.
I think [identifying celebrity outfits] is going to become obsolete. The BET Awards happened and some celebs aren’t mainstream and [a reader] asked who Lola Monroe was wearing, and someone asked who Mary J. Blidge was wearing. We still manage to stay distinct on the site because we focus on what not everyone else is focusing on.
Your blog is also geared toward urban women and fills that void in the fashion industry. In terms of including minorities, do you feel the industry is changing and diversity is increasing or has it stayed the same over the years?
I think it’s getting better but I still think there’s a void. I don’t think it is where it should be and I started a section called Snapshot to find women of color like Arlenis Sosa in editorials, Joan Smalls for Gucci, DSquared2 and Louis Vuitton.
So, you do see more black women but it’s still kind of one of those things where people get excited. I hope it stays that way and it won’t be news when Louis Vuitton casts a black model. Some fashion shows don’t cast black models, like Chanel, and a lot of the Resort shows and Cruise shows.
How much time do you devote to planning and posting on your blog?
I wake up everyday at 8 AM and stop around 2 PM. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m really quick with it and I train the staff to be quicker.
I woke up at 8 today and I did about 3 posts between 9 and 10 am and I get a ton of Mail Bombs everyday. It is the same thing for beauty posts, Snapshot, Bombshell of the Day and fashion news. In between, I focus on mail from readers and fill in the spaces besides my regular features that are random.
Do you think blogs and websites, particularly like yours, are the future of fashion journalism?
I don’t think that blogging is journalism and it’s important to make that distinction. Not everyone that blogs has the experience that I do.I came up with the journalists that are working in the magazines. I was there when they were editorial assistants and I was a reporter. I think people that don’t know me see me as a blogger but others see me as a hybrid. There’s a new hybrid emerging and people are getting respect for their work and not what label they put on it.
What plans do you have for your blog in the future in terms of making it bigger and reaching wider audiences?
I can do more exclusives, video editorials and more of My Style posts. I find it so strange that people want to see my outfits and we had so many great posts, like the BET Awards, but I have to start showing more of my life and just keep innovating because a lot of blogs produce the same content.
Who are your influences in the fashion industry, in general and when blogging?
I love Andre Leon Talley. I think we have so much in common – we’re both from the South. Robin Givhan and Cathy Horyn because they’re just so smart and they find a way to speak about fashion intelligently and they aren’t afraid to say what they feel. Guy Trebay, the whole Style Section of the New York Times. Hamish Bowles from Vogue. Everyone that writes forVogue and the New York Times.
What are your favorite magazines?
I like the New Yorker. Period. That’s the only magazine I subscribe to and it’s just really smart and I love it – it’s so interesting. If I [subscribed to] fashion magazines, Vogue Collections, those are great to have.
Who are your favorite designers?
Frida Giannini at Gucci, Vivienne Westwood, Diane von Furstenberg, Ricardo Tisci at Givenchy, Helmut Lang. I love Helmut Lang designs… Nicholas Kirkwood and Phillip Lim.
What were your favorite shows from the Fall collections?
My favorite from Fall was Gucci. I really like Etro. Moschino is always so fun and playful with big prints and hats. I just like Gucci!
What sites do you read daily?
Fashiongonerogue.com,Beautyisdiverse.com,Fashionista.com, Theybf.com,Necolebitchie.com andUpscalehype.com.
All photos from Fashionbombdaily.com