The Deals and the Dish on Where You Need to Shop
Dec 9, 2010
11:09 AMWindow Shopping
Seen on the Street
If you talk to someone who’s passionate about style and trends, they’ll likely know what The Sartorialist blog is. Scott Schuman had worked in the fashion industry for fifteen years before turning his attention (and passion) to street style and photographing the chicest New Yorkers he could find. Now his blog covers street style in cities around the world and he’s gotten press in several international versions of Vogue, GQ and more.
Street style has been so influential the past couple of years in the fashion world that there are companies that actually specialize in trend reporting—and send people out in the street to snap shots and talk to people about what they’re wearing. These companies share this information with retailers and boutiques to enlighten them o n what the next big trends are, and what they should look into carrying.
If you haven’t heard of CollegeFashionista.com, a fashion blog site where student contributors, or “style gurus,” write about what students are wearing at ninety-five college campuses around the country (soon to be 103 campuses in January!), here’s your introduction. Founder and creative director Amy Levin (shown, above) will even be in town this week for an event at the Bop store on Thursday to meet and greet website readers. (UW–Madison currently has five style gurus who write for the site; all of the shots shown are ones taken on campus for the blog.)
Ironically, Schuman and Levin both graduated from Indiana University (Levin also holds a degree from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in fashion and visual communications). A sign of success? I talked to Levin about the website which has grown exponentially in just under a year and a half.
When was College Fashionista founded?
Where are you currently based?
I live in Chicago, although I’m between L.A. and Chicago and do two weeks in each place every month.
What’s your day-to-day like? This is your full-time endeavor, right?
I finished grad school in August. Since then it’s been full time. We have three full-time staff. The other two work on our brand and advertising. We also use a web programmer and a social media expert on a freelance basis.
Currently what I’ve been focusing on is gearing up for our U.K. website launch on January 3. The new site will house schools in the U.K. So we’re working on creating awareness, pairing up with [clothing] brands and working with writers.
I also work with brands—we’re doing a campaign with Juicy [Couture] in 2011 so we’re working on that. So, really, a whole bunch of things!
And then of course I’m working on this Bop event in Madison, too. So every day it’s something different. I oversee all two hundred writers, our editorial interns and our photography interns.
How did the website concept develop?
I was attending Indiana University and during my junior year I studied abroad in London. I was first exposed to street style because one of my instructors was a WGSN trend reporter. He would take us around London, we would take pictures of people, and we’d create these mood boards. There was such an influence of style on the street.
I wanted to further my training, so then I did an internship with a trend reporting company in L.A. I’d go around the greater L.A. area and create reports. This company would send these reports to Forever 21 and other companies around LA. to let them know what people were wearing around the city.
I went into my senior year and I created a personal blog that focused on style in Bloomington, Indiana. I’d write about style advice, boys, accessories, what to wear over the weekend. My friends at other Big 10 schools emailed me and suggested I expand the blog to other Big 10 universities. That led me to develop a business plan. In January 2009 I brought on private investors to launch CollegeFashionista.com, and we had twelve writers at five schools. So at first our focus was just Big 10 schools.
It spread through word of mouth. In the first three to four weeks we received inquiries from students at other schools. Social media has been huge in creating awareness. We have over 8,000 fans on Facebook and we always post news on there. In a little over a year the website has extended far more than I ever thought it would.
What do you feel is the overall purpose of the site?
The website is an outlet for students who have no ability to express their fashion voice or don’t have the ability to have an internship during their undergraduate career. For a lot of students this is the only opportunity they have to put on their resume, and it’s a way for them to get work out there and network with others. One of our writers that went to Kent State ended up connecting with another writer that went to Colorado and they both helped each other land jobs at similar places in New York City.
I really enjoy the Sartorialist and street style blogs that show style in glamorous cities. But I think that these smaller cities can really showcase fashion and trend-setting individuals. And CollegeFashionista.com has allowed people to do that. It’s really about bringing together this demo and sharing a passion and showcasing brands to students are fashionable.
How does one become a “Style Guru” for the site?
Our initial team started with twelve writers and those came from recommendations from friends.
To [apply to write for the site] we ask them to send in photo samples, writing samples and their resume. And we have added more schools, too. If someone wants their school on the site we determine if the school has the character to launch. For the campus we want to see the diverse crowd at their school. If we feel that candidate is outgoing and dedicated, we’ll launch them on CollegeFashionista.com.
This past semester we received over two hundred apps for new writers and we’ll bring on seventy-five. Each internship is one semester and if we’ve enjoyed working with that person and they hit their deadlines, then we’ll keep them on another semester. It’s interesting to see how someone’s writing develops from when start in the fall and into spring. After two semesters on board people become really comfortable with the concept and enjoy it.
What other blogs and websites do you visit daily?
The Sartorialist.com is one. I also visit TheSelby.com—I’m a huge fan on showing where you work and how it’s a reflection of who you are. And I love street style blogs. I like SeaofShoes.com, WhoWhatWear.com and WWD.com (Women’s Wear Daily). And The New York Times’s style blog The Cut is great.
Tell us about the Bop event on Thursday.
Something that we’ve been working on is creating awareness about us through fashion events on campuses. When I was in school, I didn’t have these types of opportunities—to go to fashion events. We did our first event with Juicy Couture at Georgetown. We had a great turnout and so we decided to trickle down this idea to other campuses.
We’re big fans of ShopBop and they in turn were familiar with CollegeFashionista.com. We’ve had over 317 people RSVP so far. I’m exited to meet [our readers] and hear their thoughts about the site. Wisconsin, Indiana and Boston are our top-viewed pages on our site, and they have our largest writer teams as well—we have five writers in Wisconsin, whereas at some schools we only have two or three writers.
I’ve never been to Madison. I’m very excited to see the campus—I’ve heard it’s beautiful. I want to see what people are wearing and I’m so excited to meet my writers and put some faces to their names.
Bop (222 W. Gorham St., 255-2570) and College Fashionista's in-store event is on Thursday, December 9, from 5–7 p.m. Get styling advice from College Fashionista's style gurus and meet founder Amy Levin. Receive twenty percent off your full-priced purchase, too!