Monday, June 1, 2009

What a Way to Blog (for retailers!)

There is no shortage of retail blogs on the web, not counting ones devoted to the business of retailing, like mine, but ones written, usually by fans or fashionistas, about retailers. Probably one of the best known—Jezebel—sometimes acts as a watchdog to retail outlets, complaining, cajoling, lauding, and gushing over the latest, the best, the hippest in retailing. And Racked: NY is always fun as it ranges from covering the must-attend opening of TopShop to goofy, inflatable toys in the windows at Stella McCartney’s meatpacking district digs.

Fashion even has its own platform at, where a crew of its own bloggers, as well as other invited bloggers, write, link to, or show nearly everything on the web about fashion, celebrity, styling, and sex. My personal favorites tend to lie with the photoblogs like The Sartorialist where there are more pictures and less (h)airbrained drivel.

Major retailers have for the most part avoided the pitfalls of offering blogs, probably because good ones are very difficult for them to pull off. The blogs tend to be self-serving or irrelevant or, worse, boring. Lucky Brand is self serving, but not hopelessly so. A recent blog promoted its Lucky Bus tour this summer. Juicy Couture’s is mostly out-of-date, with only two entries for 2009. Diesel’s is unabashedly self-involved, calling itself The Cult. J.Crew takes the designer route with a horizontal scrolling "Behind the Designs" feature, which functioning as a pseudoblog from designers is self-congratulatory (what else would you expect) and overly designed with image-branded photographs and hand-written sepia-toned lettering.

The best in the business to my mind may be found at Urban Outfitters. It is both local and global with correspondents at major US and international cities writing on a vast array of subjects, which are conveniently tagged. Here’s just a few: art, beauty, design, fashion, illustration, awesome, technology, video, magazine, photography, events, books, Europe, Music, DIY, and of course Urban Outfitters among many other subjects. The dual referencing allows you to find what you want by city or subject. And each story carries a large photograph.

So, for me, who grew up in Portland, Oregon and lived in Europe, I can quickly find information that appeals to me. That’s what makes this blog so fabulous—it’s completely oriented to the customer. Since customers incorporate the brand, the UO blog meshes the customer experience both inside and outside of its stores. It’s a vision without the corporate hype—perfectly suited to web discourse, conversations that blow through the self-serving, promotional rhetoric found on many business sites.

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