WEEK FOUR PRE BLOG: Fashion Haul Vlogging

allthatglitters21 and juicystar07 (2010)

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.

Discussion Questions:

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’

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8 thoughts on “WEEK FOUR PRE BLOG: Fashion Haul Vlogging

  1. Really interesting post. I had never heard of haul vlogs before and they are a kinda strange phenomena. On the one hand, they are completely focused on the ideas of individuality and choice in fashion. There is clearly pleasure in showing off to the world the “fashion correct” choices they have made at these stores. The irony is the true lack of individuality. If someone wanted to, they could watch one person’s fashion haul vlog, go to the mall, and literally buy almost every single item that they saw. Besides from some unique vintage pieces, the clothing purchased is all mass produced and readily accessible to most either at the store or though online orders. I guess I just don’t understand what these vlogs are trying to accomplish. It seems like the people making them are practically screaming “I am an individual, look at me, I’m unique and stylish!” while at the same time saying, “Take my look, be like me, make the same choices I make.” I don’t think that these vlogs are necessarily harmful to anyone, except in the case of the girl who is dropping out of school to pursue a career in talking about herself on the internet. They seem merely just a self-centered byproduct of a society that worships mass consumption. These girls are not benefiting anyone but themselves and then are further rewarded for their consumption with free clothes and fame.

  2. This is first time I have heard about Haul vlogging, which definitely made for a very interesting pre-blog! What I found most intriguing was the story about juicystar07 being forced into homeschooling due to the demands of her vblog. With EVERYTHING becoming so easily accessible through the internet I can see truth in Minh-ha T. Pham comment saying that these vblogs 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’ What I am most curious about is who is the audience of these vblogs and who exactly makes up those 40 million hits with a young girl having no professional background in fashion. Being a young teen and not having that professional background is interesting in itself because discussions and questions of authenticity can be easily brought up when discussing the topic of haul vlogging. When looking at the comments under juicystar07, most are other haul vloggers who are asking juicystar07 to check out their haul vlogs and who to me all look very young. I do see vlogging as a subtle form of child labor because of the possible young age of these girls and because it has become beneficial to clothing designers and huge companies like forever21. Beneficial because young teens being able to see what’s cute through these vloggers, who hannahshariatmadari says are typically well off therefore more accessible to fashion because they are able to go on these shopping sprees, helps the overall mass consumption of certain clothes or brands.

  3. Prior to this class, I remained uninformed about haul vlogging. After watching the videos and reading this pre-post, it becomes evident vlogging remains a way to live vicariously through the vloggers themselves. However, I feel their popularity continues to increase because it becomes easy to see how everyday style is evolving. Vlogging offers instant (and amateur) advice and outlook on fashion, therefore competing with monthly magazines. The vloggers represent the “stylish everyday girl”, so viewers can see what is acceptable to wear. On a side note, Blue Satin Chanel’s vlog seemed much more narcissistic than BritPop Princess. The latter genuinely wanted to share her new clothes, while Blue Satin Chanel tended to believe she was the center of the fashion world. Her vlog could also make women look down upon themselves. She commented on her weight/ size three times in the six minute video. I found her vlog dull and annoying. Vlogs popularity will not decrease because it becomes free advertising and free “advice”.

  4. We always want what we cant have. I find that teens are intrigued by this new world of online Haul vlogging because, as mentioned, it is a way to live vicariously through someone else. In the case of these new hottest vloggers, who doesn’t want to have a loyal group of followers drooling at your every purchase-and-post. In addition to visually fantasizing about the life of a high school shop out, reasons why teens may find these vlogs attractive may be to keep up with the coolest trends. If Maggie, the 15 year old high school freshman is particularly interested in the snazzy style of Kelly, the established high school Junior, an online vlog may be a way to find similar items as her. In a sense this vlogging world is similar to those magazines that host full page spreads of celebrity inspired looks. In the case of teens such a JuicyStar07, these items being showcased are exact and a lot more affordable than a thousand dollar broach that kind-of sort-of looks like the celeb version. I don’t find it unusual or corrupt for companies to be offering free merchandise to teen vloggers. I actually think it is a smart strategy for any company trying to make it big. These teens are reaching millions of faithful viewers. Similarly to Oprah’s greatest things episodes, merchandise in the hands of teens that reach such a high volume of viewers, could prove big business to the company.

  5. I’ve never heard of Haul Vlogging before and it’s definitely an interesting concept. Most of the items that they talk about aren’t unattainable. The items that they show are from common stores that you see in everyday malls. I see it as a way of showing people what’s currently “in” in their opinion and I think that’s more valuable than the opinions of fashionistas on television. These girls seem like everyday girls that you can relate to, and this is important because it’s the everyday people who buy into all this stuff about fashion. JuicyStar07′s take with haul vloggin seems to be more on the high end side. The only reason I see why people would watch it is for guilty pleasure and, as posted, to live vicariously through the vlogger. This is assuming that the people watching these vlogs are girls in their teens and aren’t as well off as the JuicyStar07. Is JuicyStar07′s obsession with her vlog a concern towards child labor? I think that’s a far stretch. It’s her choice to do what she wants to with her free time-well, not so free anymore. But the point is, she could quit whenever. It’s not like she’s getting paid, but I guess the free items can act as a source of payment. Although her actions aren’t a scare towards child labor, it does show how one can become a slave towards fashion.

  6. The haul vlogging gets me thinking about a lot of things. Aside from being a bit annoying, are these girls any different than glamour magazines showing the hottest trends? Or indie girls writing blogs about their fashion choices? But these girls are younger than people who work at fashion magazines and may be more relatable to the younger girls and their style. Also, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be an “individual” in the fashion world. These girls are buying from chain stores, so their fashions are considered mass produced. But can we really consider anyone to be a fashion individual- meaning they wear only wear of kind pieces. That idea only sees practical for celebrities and the wealthy who can directly contact designers to make pieces, but many times you see the same look on different celebrities. To be a fashion individual do you need to make your own clothes? How is that feasible when than last few more feminist generations have seen sewing as “women’s work” and therefore the skills to make clothes have been lost? How about the time and money factor involved? When sewing is seen as a leisurely activity how can one fit it into their busy schedule of work, school, or motherhood. And buying from an independent designer can be costly, and how could a college student afford to buy their whole wardrobe off Etsy? Does buying mass produced really take away individuality? Is there anyone one who can truly be “individual” in the mass produced society. And is this language of individuality really relevant or useful considering the current cycle of mass fashion consumption by a large part of the population. Does “individuality” need to take on a different meaning in this context?

  7. Prior to reading this post, I had been exposed to haul vlogging through my friends. They enjoy watching haul vlogs mainly because they are entertained by the personalities of the haul vloggers. In other words, they are captivated by the haul vloggers’ enthusiasm about make up and fashion. I have only seen a couple of haul vlogs myself, but I have to agree with my friends. Haul vloggers’ evident excitement about fashion is rather entertaining. Nevertheless, I still seem to find myself unable to comprehend why these young girls have gained so much popularity so quickly. Again, I have not been exposed to a great variety of haul vlogs, but the ones I have seen are neither exceptionally informative nor particularly inspiring. This leads me to agree with the assertion that the viewers and fans of haul vloggers watch these videos as an attempt to live vicariously through the haul vloggers. It makes sense since the majority of haul vloggers are young, relatively good looking, and wealthy enough to splurge on their frequent shopping sprees. Furthermore, the world of these girls seems to be free of “real problems” because fashion is at its center. In essence, how hard can someone’s life be when most of their time is consumed by fashion? I believe that most girls wish that they could shop as much as these haul vloggers without feeling guilty or afflicted by financial issues. Ultimately, haul vloggers appear to lead carefree, fun lives that are based on good looks and wealth, which attracts the attention of girls who are not as fortunate in those respects.

  8. I have heard about vloggers before but I never really watched any of their videos until now. What I found interesting about this phenomena is not only what is being shown but how it’s also being shown. The clothing or makeup that most of these girls do demonstrate to their audience can be bought from going to your nearest mall or store. It seems to me that the amount of popularity being received comes from the audience’s anticipation to stay up to date with the current fashion trends. These girls really do not give any factual information about the product; it’s more of an opinion coming from their part. Anyone nowadays can post a video through YouTube and become instantly famous. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that what they buy will be considered to be a unique form of fashion. The thing I do notice, is the way in which vlogging can be a great way to commercialize a product. Those clothing companies like Forever 21 are gaining more access to potential consumers because of vlogs. So I do wonder if this does lean toward child labor since these girls may not be of legal age to work but are still providing profit for the items they are demonstrating.

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