Blowing Up


05/04/09

We can think of some magazine web sites who would envy Susie Bubble's "Style Bubble" blog for its 15,000 readers a day—not to mention its place on university reading lists, and credibility with editors and designers. The British-born, ethnically Chinese Bubble spent some of her childhood in Hong Kong before attending a girls' grammar school in North London. After studying history and digital marketing, she started her blog in 2006 as a heartfelt reservoir for the clothes and images she admires. Last year, the 25-year-old was named one of the most influential voices in fashion by London's Evening Standard. She has been profiled in The Guardian and receives privileged invites to exclusive catwalk shows. On top of maintaining her own charming and chatty site with three daily updates, she has been scooped up by Dazed & Confused magazine to head their dazeddigital.com website, where, full disclosure, she's my editor.

"I love watching Susie put together her looks, and her commentary always makes me smile," says Diane Pernet, whose own signature style has made her a fashion icon and whose influential fashion blog, "A Shaded View on Fashion," has earned her Godmother status among the international fashion community. Pernet reads Style Bubble daily because of Bubble's relatability, her ability to break new talent; "She's inventive and humble." For a fashion blogger, such praise from Pernet, a pioneer in the medium, that's praise from Caesar. Here, Bubble discusses the effect that blowing up has had on Style Bubble, and herself.

 
ANA FINEL HONIGMAN: What inspired the name Style Bubble?

SUSIE BUBBLE: My nickname ,"Susie Bubble," was given to me when I was eight by my best friend at the time, Sarah Hill. She thought I was always daydreaming. I was a bit of a dozy kid, so everyone just started calling me Susie Bubble and it stuck. Style Bubble is sort of like being stuck inside the style side of my brain. That doesn't sound very appealing, does it?

AFH: It seems to appeal to a lot of people. Who are your readers?

SB: I have no idea other than where they are located, roughly. They could be 12. They could be 50. I just haven't a clue. I'm hoping my readership is a little wider and broad than what the typical fashion blog gets. I have received emails from a 50-year-old lady in Tel Aviv who says I have revived her passion for fashion.

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AFH: How do you think the success of some fashion blogs has affected fashion and blogging?

SB: Some bloggers have gained immense success—modelling in campaigns, jobs in the fashion industry etc. The bar has been raised.

AFH:  Do you see writers starting blogs for the wrong reasons or becoming too self-conscious about their tone, style or focus now that they know there are possible perks to blogging?

SB: I already see it!  It's not exactly annoying but definitely saddening to see people getting into blogging for completely the wrong reasons. Getting perks is not a given when blogging.
 
AFH: What makes a successful blog? Is it just charisma?

SB: It's a unique voice; and depending on the blog, your own style factors in.  To some extent, it might have to do with the graphic aesthetics of a blog. Pretty pictures go a long way these days and many personal style blogs owe a lot to a decent DSLR.

AFH:  You are rarely negative or mocking. Are you tempted to find a forum to voice your dislike of things, as well as your encouragement?

SB: If I don't like it, I don't want to rant about it. There will be things that I vent about if I'm passionate enough, but there are plenty of scathing voices out there already. Who needs another?

AFH: Whose opinion do you respect the most in terms of what you wear and what they recommend you check out?

SB: There's no hierarchy of respect, really. An opinion that goes beyond "Cute outfit!" is appreciated. If a person regularly comments and they too have a blog, and we have gotten to know each other's respective styles through commenting on each other's blogs—of course I'm more likely to check out their recommendations. Gnarlitude Jen, Jennine from The Coveted and Laia of Geometrics Sleep and I communicate quite a bit on Twitter.

AFH: Most of the established fashion figures, such as Diane Pernet, Suzy Menkes, Daphne Guinness, or the late Isabella Blow have one signature attribute or a surprisingly uniform aesthetic. Is there something in your style that you foresee developing into a signature or are you intentionally rejecting that tradition?

SB: I don't think I'm intentionally rejecting anything for the sake of rejecting it. I do think though that my style is hard to define around a certain signature. Perhaps the haphazard style will itself become a signature? But it would be ludicrous to think that someone like me would even get to the iconic status of some of the people you've mentioned!

AFH: Last time that I was in London, you were featured in a Sunday supplement alongside those women as a style icon. Does that kind of attention make you self-conscious or do you generally dismiss it as irrelevant to you?

SB: I don't like to think that people recognize who I am when I'm out and about, and anyone who comes up to me in real life can testify that I suddenly clam up and get very nervous. People asking me for my autograph in H&M was beyond surreal.

AFH: Have you noticed that showcasing a designer on your blog affects their career differently than featuring them on a magazine's sister site, like Dazeddigital, or in print?

SB: Print and web have profoundly different effects: The effect is immediate when people can click on links. Differentiating between what my blog does and what DazedDigital.com does, though, really comes down to reader demographic. An item I feature, say from Topshop, might sell out if I talk about it. On DazedDigital, we don't talk about specific products, so the effect might be slower. Certainly other links disseminate more by being featured on DazedDigital. I still haven't quite gauged the effects of featuring designers on my blog and on Dazed. I can only rely on what people feed back to me ... the effects are positive though—designers picking up more buyers, entering into new collaborations, getting more orders.... it's all really, really encouraging.

AFH: How do readers' comments affect you?

 SB: Commentators are, by and large, lovely. Yes there are negative ones, but you roll with the punches and suck it up. Someone's negative opinion is still a valid one.

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