Fashion, Inspiration, Subculture, The Reading List

Is the Blog the modern equivalent of the Zine?

>Many apologies.  If your computer is anything like mine, it may be crashing right now under the weight of such an image heavy-post.

Below, in all it’s monochromatic, gritty glory is 1977 punk Zine How To Look Punk, which I found via a very interesting post on subculture and commodity at Threadbared (well worth a short click). 

I couldn’t possibly add to their intelligent post in terms of the regimenting of punk style in a recognisable, homogenous format.  The zine itself is a fascinating peep into a whole world I was way too young for (and who knew you needed to wear two shades of blusher to be truly punk?).  It makes me want to create a whole new category on the blog called ‘shit you can do with safety pins’.

But I’m steaming steadily off topic.  The boom of zines in the fifties to the nineties covers a realm of subcultures from sci-fi to punk to crafting to the riot girrl movement.  This begs the question – is fashion blogging the new subcultural topic – is blogging the 21st century equivalent of the zine?

So…here’s a few correlations that you may or may not agree with

1)  Ease of publishing and distribution.  My granny can see about eighteen inches in front of her face and calls me by my younger sister’s name but if I popped a computer in front of her she’d probably be able to figure out how to start a blog.  Likewise, zines have a DIY ethic that, while more traditionally hands on, still requires no financial backers, little or no start-up costs and a distribution network that relies more on word of mouth (for example, sending an SAE to an address with a nominal amount in it and receiving your zine in the post a few days later, an approach also used with cassette clubs in the late 70s and early 80s) than advertising proper.
2) A saturated market.  You could see Style Bubble as the fash blog equivalent of Sniffin’ Glue.  Cultish and standalone at first, the existence of one good blog (or zine) will spawn a proliferation of similarly themed blogs.  Like zines, some blogs are excellent but not as widely-read as they deserve to be.  Similarly, some blogs are total dross and attract huge readerships due in part to the profile of the blogger him/herself and not strictly the body of work.
3)  Existence in an archival hinterland.  It’s nigh on impossible to catalogue the number of fashion blogs and properly archive them for future viewing, just as there is no definite index of zines.  One gets the feeling that a large part of a subcultures history has been pre-emptively burnt away due to the difficulty of properly indexing blogs or zines (although there is a good archive of punk music zines here).
4) A singular fascination with one topic.  It’s been observed by more than a few fashion bloggers that fashion has become less related just to the clothes that a person wears than a full time hobby.  Fashion and perhaps more importantly, personal style as a form of creative expression has become more of a subject of obsession (this may be due in part to the internet and the ready availability of information that would more commonly be found in libraries of scholarly texts).  A zine will generally focus on a very specific issue.

And a note for the future – will blogs be compiled into books – books that may go out of print and end up commanding astronomical prices, an ironic counterpoint to it’s initial accessibility and low/no price point?  New copies of the book compilation of Sniffin Glue now cost around 100 euro…

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2 thoughts on “Is the Blog the modern equivalent of the Zine?

  1. >Really good post, good read. I think the same can be said for fanzines, they're dwindling away in football and there's a deluge of footy blogs around now… I should know, I have one :(

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