The worldwide phenomenon of fashion haul vlogging was first brought to the attention of the mainstream around twelve months ago by editorials such as Glamour, Vanity Fair and The Huffington Post. As a result of this added exposure, haul vlogs have become a booming sensation ever since and the most recognisable vlogger, JuicyStar07 (a.k.a. Blair Fowler) currently has over 40million hits on her YouTube channel.
Haul Vlogging can be described as ‘a video showing a shopping spree…showing products or clothing that will usually be featured in future How To, or tutorial videos’ (Urban Dictionary) and has elevated the profiles of young shoppers around the world as they transform new purchases into a visual show-and-tell for their audiences. For some, the haul vlogs simply elevate air-headed narcissists who display all the insecurities of a hot mess, with NPG describing the vlogs as ‘materialistic PG porn’. However, viewing figures and the constant launching of new haul vlogs sternly prove this observation irrelevant in slowing down the haul vlog revolution.
Apart from being branded as the new fad amongst wannabe fashionistas and well-off teens, haul vlogging can also be observed in terms of the development of our accessibility of fashion and its democratisation. At the same time however, the haul vlogs also separate the viewers and the vloggers via class. The videos pose fashion as a live fantasy for viewers, but only by means of living it vicariously through someone else. Furthermore, they also represent the development of the labor force within the fashion industry and just as how the manufacturing process of clothing has progressed from early sewing machines to ‘computerised layout and grading programs’ (Green, 1997), so has shopping. When Nancy Green poses the question ‘Where did clothes come from before we started buying them “off the rack”?’ todays response would be that clothes are so far past the rack that they are now being channeled through hauling stars. Garments have moved along a timeline from times when clothing was sourced second-hand, made at home or stolen (in the case of poorer classes) and for the rich, expensively tailored. This timeline continues into modern day through the progress of factory-made clothing, and today’s accessibility of clothing being filtered through technological means. Green observed that the role of department stores was to bring fashion to the masses, and this same trend can also be seen with haul vlogs.
It could be argued that the empowerment of women through the industrialisation of fashion and ‘the demise of the corset’ (Green, 1997) is not too dissimilar to the empowerment of young female haul vloggers. However, when looking at the development of the labor force in the fashion industry to include female workers and factory production, one can compare it to JuicyStar07 being forced into home schooling because of the demand of her vlog. This reality that she is a slave to the industry is a painful realisation. Minh-ha T. Pham comments further on this point in stating that the vlogs are ‘suggestive of the ways in which Web 2.0 technologies are dissolving the boundaries between labor and play, is reliant on child labor, and is capitalizing free and democratic spaces’. These vlogs are a clear example of a ‘ready made good’ ready for consumption by a demanding audience across the globe.
This new brand of lifestyle expert is younger, better looking and more enthusiastic than ever before. The advice they are giving isn’t professional or well researched and the vloggers often make mistakes or stumble over their dialogue. Nevertheless their popularity doesn’t appear to be decreasing anytime soon and from what I can see these teen fashion haul vloggers are here to stay.
1. Is JuicyStar07’s commitment to her vlog a worrying reality of child labor, or a positive development in the accessibility of fashion?
2. Hypothetically speaking, would Green see haul vlogging as a natural progression of the fashion industry’s efforts to keep up with the demands of the masses?
3. Apart from watching the vlogs as a way of living vicariously through the vloggers, what other reasons would you suggest for their huge popularity?
4. YouTube continue to partner with star haul vloggers as well as labels sending them free merchandise – this is seen as a sign of real achievement in the vlogging world. Do you agree with the companies endorsing children at such a young age and in how far could it be decremental to their education and development?
Video 1: BritPopPrincess, ‘H&M HAUL, PRIMARK AND VINTAGE’
Video 2: ChanelBlueSatin, ‘Haul: Forever21, Charlotte Russe, AE, and Target’