The Coverage Of This Tumblr Fashion Brouhaha Is Kind Of Irresponsible


NYC-based blogging platform Tumblr is having some problems, namely with people from the fashion industry who are fed up with certain aspects of its service. BetaBeat ran this headline today: “The Flood Gates Are Now Open On Publicly Bashing Tumblr,” after yesterday announcing that “The Fashion Industry Wants Tumblr To Get Its Fucking Act Together” (oh my). NYmag’s The Cut blog joins in in slightly more measured tones: “Fashion Brands Have Started to Air Grievances About Fashion-Hungry Tumblr.”

Tumblr has had a relationship with the fashion industry for a long time, for reasons we’ve never fully understood, but now it’s gotten contentious. Tumblr is sending bloggers to Fashion Week for the second time this year, and some fashion PR people are going public with their grievances towards the blogging platform’s perceived lack of support, including making them pay for sponsorships when they’d rather be investing in analytical tools that would measure reblogs and likes — something that Tumblr doesn’t have. In these posts, BetaBeat and NYMag quote from three different fashion industry people’s blogs describing Tumblr’s dealings with their companies in less-than-charitable terms. That’s either three people as in only three people, or three people as in three people willing to go public out of many who are staying silent. Either way, three people complaining online isn’t a lot of people. It is not “The Fashion Industry.”

Is this really the way to cover this story? For example, those headlines — “The Fashion Industry Wants Tumblr to Get its Fucking Act Together,” etc — are a little forceful for a story that essentially boils down to some individual people becoming frustrated with an Internet service their companies have put money into and that isn’t meeting their expectations. Also, starting a sentence with “A few media sources in New York had been airing this kind of grievance before” and then ending it by linking to Get Off My Internets? LOL, you guys. Get Off My Internets, for those of you who don’t know (and we envy you so much for not knowing) is a site where anonymous mean people talk all kinds of shit about people on the Internet. It’s not a “media source” by any stretch of the imagination. For a long time, they referred to former Tumblr employee Meaghan O’Connell as “Poundcake”; it’s that kind of thing.

And even The Cut, which does its best to be subdued, isn’t totally accurate here: “Fashion Brands Have Started to Air Grievances About Fashion-Hungry Tumblr.” No. It isn’t the brands themselves, but people on their own websites. There’s a difference, and an important one. Saying that it’s “brands” sells the story, but it’s not accurate. This isn’t to say that these people’s grievances aren’t valid — that, we don’t know.

Tumblr would only send us the following adverb-heavy statement in response to our request for comment:

Our team cares tremendously about the brands that have embraced our community in full force and we’re incredibly excited about the early success we’ve had with our partners so far. They’ve been overwhelmingly supportive of the fact that these are alpha products and understand that we’re constantly overhauling and iterating in the interest of building the best products we can for our community.

Whew. Smiles, everyone. It’s just the Internet.

Update 5:32 p.m.: And now BetaBeat has come out with another piece: “Fashion Week Flameout: Why The Industry Is Erupting at Tumblr and Rich Tong,” Tong being Tumblr’s fashion director. No one is quoted by name. There is no statement from Tumblr. There is no evidence of “The Industry” as a whole doing anything resembling “erupting.” End scene.