In the Beginning was The Blog
I started Style by Fire ten years ago when I was fresh out of university and interning at a fashion house in New York City. During that glorious time I met Christian Siriano while chasing Project Runway hopefuls, Alexander Wang came up to me to introduce himself, I visited Diane von Furstenburg’s production studio, and even got to be in the same room as Anna Wintour, Karlie Kloss, and the fashion elite. I saw the abundance of fashion in New York, and feeling the pressure of my internship coming to an end, I realized that New York didn’t need me. Vancouver, on the other hand, could use someone or something to connect its dots in the fashion industry. That became Style by Fire’s original mandate.
Who knew what to do with a blog back then? I gathered event listings from various sources (mainly print) and updated a weekly fashion listing, covered the few small events around town, and interviewed designers. That’s how it all began, unquestionably primitive to today’s social media savvy generation. This was when blogging was the most social form of media and before we used the term ‘social media’ to describe Facebook. At a book event in 2009, I asked Jeanne Beker what she thought of the role fashion bloggers would play, to which she replied she didn’t see them as a credible threat. But I knew she was wrong: we were at the forefront of a new generation of voices, and we ran with it.
Things Change, and So Did We
The ten years of Style by Fire marks a transformative decade in my life—it’s the longest relationship I’ve had! Starting out, I was wide-eyed, hungry, ambitious, willing to do whatever it took to work in the fashion industry. I suspended all criticisms and realities of it, including not making a decent salary for the sake of being associated with ‘fashion,’ its harm on the environment, and all the time spent covering events for this blog. Time, money, effort—none of that was wasted. Anything done in the name of ‘fashion’ was worthy of my resources.
Style by Fire with Mr Aziz Bendriss, Dior Client Experience Manager and Mr Serge Brunschwig, Dior Chief Operating Officer
But when Facebook, Twitter, and more recently, Instagram, came in, we didn’t know what to make of it. We considered ourselves writers and reporters, and social just didn’t quite fit our picture, even writing in first person felt like pulling teeth. So much had changed in the world of media and publishing. Like Aurora says in our Goodbye Q&A post, jumping on board of the social media train sooner and with an open mind might have made a difference in our trajectory. But at the end of the day, we weren’t in it for the swag, to be ‘influencers,’ and obviously not for the money. Our collective interests lie in the objective, to which our proudest pieces were the well thought-out, quasi controversial pieces (lululemon, Oscars, Ivanka Trump) that questioned ideas about fashion far greater than any of us as individuals. And this wasn’t easily conveyed in a single image in a square frame.
In the last few years, a maturing change I sought after for so long also finally hit me, but not in ways that I expected. To those closest to me, I had ‘grown up,’ and hence new interests started to find me. I thought about changing Style by Fire to meet the team’s new collective needs, our evolving relationships with clothing and shopping. But the name itself, Style by Fire, a self-proclaimed clever take on Trial by Fire, belongs to the me of the last decade.
To you, it might look like we’re quitting. And it does pain me to flip the switch on my first love, my baby. But I am, and always have have been, a project-oriented person. Things need to have a beginning and an end, along with a compelling raison d’être. At ten years, it feels like the right time to conclude this project. Ending Style by Fire feels (and I can’t believe I’m going to use a Star Wars reference) serene, like when Luke leaves peacefully after fighting his last fight. Though no Jedi Master of the Vancouver fashion scene, I believe Aurora, Vicki, and I put forth our best foot to deliver good, objective local fashion news.
Great Memories, Til the End
Aurora, I’ll never forget the days of fashion week where you and I went to work for 8 hours, went home to quickly change, tried to rush to the venue before 4pm to get our photos taken, wrestled our way to front row, took in the shows, hustled designers to borrow clothes for the next OOTD, drove home, reviewed the shows til 3am, and if we were lucky, slept for a few hours. Then it was rise and grind for the next day. We always had each other at the end of the day to celebrate our successes (hosting a Dynamite event, scoring the occasional amazing swag, serendipitously meeting the Dior execs because we dressed the part) and commiserating the tough times (we weren’t invited to that event? our photos are just as good!). My fave articles by you are the one about the Power of Clothes and Boring Oscar Style, because it’s how you truly felt, you expressed it beautifully and backed it up factually. Who would have thought that a random volunteer night at a now-defunct fashion week would turn into a casual friendship, then you as a contributor, and lastly, the other half of SBF. Even though we had our differences, I’m glad you were my partner throughout it all—we had a good 5 years of fashion memories—and so so many matching outfits!
Vicki, I’m happy that a chance encounter turned into a three-year dedication to consistently good local gift guides, beauty product reviews, and exclusive behind-the-scenes concert backstage dressing series (Taylor Swift, Madonna, Dixie Chicks… NBD)! I’m honoured to have been able to work with you and helped guide you to produce some amazing stories. I used to think, ‘If nothing comes out of Style by Fire, at least I would have helped one person hold open the door to Vancouver fashion.’ I won’t forget our car talks about feminism, the industry, and everything in between. I’m also super proud that of all the fashion bloggers in this city, you actually work in the industry!
As for myself, in the past few years I’m grateful to have been able to leverage Style by Fire as a springboard to explore my fashion, retail, and writing interests on whole new levels. I got to try my hand at copywriting (writing from someone else’s corporate voice), freelance writing (for publications I looked up to for a long time), and retail consulting (working with a team in a major time crunch). I traveled for writing and met some of my local editorial heroes. So what’s next? Maybe another blog, maybe finish making that skirt I started last month, or maybe just giving myself some breathing room.
Fuelled with Fire for the Future
Thanks to all the friends, readers, supporters, fellow bloggers, publicists, photographers, designers, and store owners who have supported us, and worked with us throughout the years. Whether or not we made a difference was always the driving force behind my creative pursuits, and I hope in some small way we did. But now, at the end, I’m just glad the three of us had fun doing this!
The Style by Fire site will be up for another two years, and our social media channels will be turned private. Regardless, keep in touch with us! This experience has changed us, and the ‘fire’ we all have for fashion will always be with us in one way or another. I can’t wait to see how we’ll each wield it next.