With society ﬁrmly set in a digital and online age, the fashion industry, like many others, has slowly caught up with the idea of ‘blogging’ and the wave of new online media. Slowly being accepted as an inﬂuential form of media, Susie Bubble of Style Bubble otherwise known as Susanna Lau, was one of the ﬁrst fashion bloggers to be recognised by the fashion industry. Since her blog in 2006 she has documented not only her thoughts about fashion, but has shared with us an insight into her own personal style as wellas keeping many of us up-to-date with the fashion world and its idiosyncrasies.
And true to form, the day I met up with Susie, her style didn’t fail to impress. Dressed in a new motorcycle jacket by Luxirare (a blogger and designer that Susie has recently been blogging about herself) of nude mesh and silvery grey panels, it became an epicentre and huge talking point for both her blog and us. The jacket itself was to be the focal point of her outﬁt and thus wasn’t matched with ‘statement’ garments, but instead paired with a sheer pale green Topshop dress and Toa knitted shorts, playing on a colourful array of pastels. Personally being a bit of a v fanatic myself, whilst I was heartily disappointed that there were no killer heels to match, I could still appreciate the subtleness of pairing an outlandish outﬁt with a demure pair of neon-lined grey ballet ﬂats, having such an intricately designed jacket speak for itself.
Three years on and the once Visual Advertiser is now part of the Dazed online team, and her ‘hobby’ of blogging has now become a very fundamental part of her life. And whilst many would believe the progression from online blogger to ‘fashion insider’ a natural and almost glorious progression, it was never a conscious thought for Susie, who thought the most natural progression was her move from ‘Muji notebook and forum contributor’ to her own online blog. “Fashionality and Diane Pernet’s A Shaded View on Fashion, are blogs that spurred me to do my own, and it became a place to share my thoughts and document my experiences with fashion as well as document my own personal style.”
Despite there now being a wave of thousands of bloggers that have caught the online media by storm, Susie is still reputedly one of the more recognised. But in her own humble opinion she by no means feels she’s the ‘exception’. And whilst it is of course difﬁcult to gauge the actual impact her blog has had, there’s no doubt that it has subsequently opened many doors of opportunity.
As it was through her blog that her opinion became most credited, this was also emphasised by the fact that her presence has been requested as a judge/panellist at several fashion events, the latest being The Lichting 2009 in Amsterdam alongside an impressive international panel (including Wendy Dagworthy from the RCA, Lucas Ossendrijver of Lanvin Homme and fashion blogger & photographer, Garance Dore), as well as giving talks in places such as the Apple Store on Regent Street and London College of Fashion (LCF), thus being recognised by international universities as a credible resource.
Even if Susie doesn’t feel she’s the exception, there’s no doubt a sense of uniqueness to her blog that shows her to be an all- round and eclectic individual, with a particular ﬂare for fashion. With an average of at least 1-3 posts a day, her blog posts range from images of her own bargain hunts and newly purchased garments, to the latest trends from her travels before they hit the catwalk; as well as a plethora of vintage fair visits, interviews and ﬁlm edits. Like the fashion she indulges in, her blog leaves you spoilt for choice and there’s never a dull moment. And whilst some may bare the grudge that Susie was given everything on a silver platter just for expressing an opinion (because who doesn’t have an opinion?), they may not be aware that the hard work from reporting for fashion156.com, as well as the credibility gained from a writing portfolio at other leading fashion magazines eventually led to her well-deserved position as Editor of Dazed Digital.
But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for the online blogger. In her early months of 2006 she had received a few negative criticisms that seemed to attack her personally. “I’ve learnt to deal with criticism better over the last three years, but I still get defensive but that’s very natural to me. Ever since I was a kid, why a 98% and not 100%, why B+ and not A-.” And only in April this year, her blog on Pam Hogg entitled ‘Hogg Roast’ had aroused equally negative responses from the designer. It caused quite the controversy where many frequenters of Style Bubble were compelled to comment, more so than any other post in her blog. “…I felt that it went beyond the main issue and really shed light on how fashion bloggers are received. It was to the point where people started to see that it was set up as us (fashion bloggers and general people) vs them (fashion industry and designers). And it was disappointing to see how established designers were so controlling over their public image and how their clothes are seen. Especially when it’s everyone else that’s discussing and wearing their designs.”
When asked now if being a fashion ‘insider’ has changed her view of fashion and the industry in anyway, she is quick to point out that she still doesn’t feel like she’s quite in. “It’s funny because even though I’m mentioned as an ‘insider’, I still feel like an outsider, when I go to fashion events and shows I sometimes still think ‘I’m not supposed to be here… And there are aspects of the industry that I don’t like, but now understand why they’re there, even if I don’t agree.” Yet despite that recent ﬂash of negativity, Susie, amongst a group of other major fashion bloggers, was invited on an all-expenses paid trip to Paris for Chanel’s catwalk show in 2007, and more recently, one of only two bloggers to attend Gucci’s UNICEF Bash in New York, and covering all major London Fashion Week shows for S/S 2010, including the hottest ticket of the season, Burberry, bringing to light how the fashion industry is readily acknowledging fashion bloggers; though it is still an ‘invite’ into the world rather than a gate-crashing.
Susie is still very much dedicated and in love with fashion. And despite having had to sacriﬁce a lot of personal time, she’s still very happy to keep incorporating her blog into her life, “because it is essentially part of my life at the moment.” Though her writing style hasn’t changed over the last three years, the variety of her content has certainly expanded, as well as the style. Early images of her outﬁts were taken with her face covered or hidden from view, but this slowly changed; as Susie became more expressive and acknowledged in the industry, as does her face in her more recent pictures. Quintessentially, the blog may be seen as something of a self-reﬂection for Susie, whose posts have ﬂourished and developed as she has.
And the future of Style Bubble? Well for now it seems that it’s here to stay for as long as possible and Susie is more than happy for that to be the case. “But I’m happy to be doing what I’m doing and hope it will continue that way.” With many exciting prospects in her future, there seems little chance of Style Bubble becoming redundant any time soon. But what’s certain is that the impact that Susie and her blog have had on the fashion industry has been a three-year eye opener. And whilst fashion blogging is still something of a niche, it’s a niche she has an edge on; reading over 100+ blogs a day, hundreds of magazines a month and breathing in fashion from all angles of her life. No doubt the next three years will open the ﬂoodgates to many other industries.
INTERVIEW: MARIAM EL-BANNA
ILLUSTRATIONS: JUNE CHANPOOMIDOLE