Q&A: College Fashionista’s Amy Levin

Six years ago, circa 2006, people armed with just a computer, an internet connection and plenty of ideas began to partake in the fashion blogging phenomenon. Thousands of personal on-line logs were kept, updated on a daily basis, adorned with pictures, filled with confessions and thoughts. Bloggers gained a cult following almost immediately, as they provided the ever-growing cyber audience with a nice alternative to the mainstream media. Many of these blogs have grown to become businesses or helped the bloggers themselves make a name for themselves. Amy Levin was one to capitalize on the so-called "blogging revolution." As the founder and editor of CollegeFashionista, a site dedicated to cataloguing college/university fashion all around the world, she has taken fashion blogging to another level. She is one heck of a lady; an entrepreneur of the highest calibre. Little Wing caught up with her to ask her a few questions...

Hi Amy! Thanks so much for talking to us! So first off, how did College Fashionista begin?

CollegeFashionista started as a personal blog of mine during my senior year at Indiana University. After several internships in various sectors of the fashion industry, I felt I was most passionate and excited about photography and writing. I decided to channel those interests into a personal blog at my university. One thing led to the next and after picking up momentum by friends reading my blog I decided to expand this hobby into an actual company. When I graduated in May 2009 I spent the entire summer planning for our August launch of CollegeFashionista. I brought on investors to help start my idea, build a website and all the other elements that go into a company. In August 2009 CollegeFashionista launched at 5 schools. We are now at over 200 schools worldwide.

Why was London your big inspiration?

As a child I travelled immensely and had been to London several times but it was during my Junior [second] year when I actually lived in London that I became extremely inspired by this city. The way people dressed on the streets is what really caught my eye and I often found myself taking inspiration from looks worn by my peers at uni or on the streets for my own wardrobe. It was from this experience that I decided I wanted to document the college demographic. College is such an interesting time in our lives because it’s the first time most people are away from home and really figuring out who they are. A lot of this comes through in your wardrobe and I felt it necessary to showcase this to the world. Hence CollegeFashionista. I still hold a very soft spot for London and always go there to get re-inspired.

Did you always want a career in fashion?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love fashion or want to pursue a career in it. I wasn’t sure what sector of the industry I was going to be involved in but I always knew I would end up in the fashion world.

How much did the blogosphere facilitate your career?

My entire company and brand is web based so without the blogosphere CollegeFashionista would absolutely not exist. I also started CollegeFashionista as the blogging world was beginning to explode which always plays a key factor in the success of my site. Now the market is very saturated and to start something new takes a lot of innovation, but it’s definitely still doable.

Do you think that blogs are important to have if you want to be seen/heard in the fashion business?

Absolutely. Social media is such an important part of creating a brand whether your brand is online or not. It’s the best way for a brand to communicate with its consumers and to get feedback immediately. I don’t think social media or the new way of media is going anywhere so for a brand to fall behind on this is putting that brand at risk of missing out.

How has CollegeFashionista made an impact on the fashion scene?

CollegeFashionista shows real fashion worn by real people. It allows college students to see what their peers are wearing all around the world and to take tips and advice from this demographic for their own personal wardrobe. Often fashion can be very intimidating and I believe CollegeFashionista shows the more realistic, obtainable side of fashion and how real bodies are wearing clothing.

Many people seem to think that blogging has broken down the barrier to the seemingly impenetrable industry that is fashion. Do you think that with what you are doing you have contributed to this?

I think like any industry, fashion is competitive and difficult to break into. I do think blogging has taken away a lot of that behind the scenes glitz and glamour we all use to dream about. Now people can see exactly what happens in Vogue’s offices through editor Twitter handles, reality TV shows, Tumblr, and other platforms like these. I don’t think that it’s “easy” to get into the industry now I just think people are more aware of the various sectors of the industry and what jobs really do exist. This industry is still beyond competitive and will only allow for those who are driven, dedicated and talented to survive.

Do you think that the ‘social order’ of fashion reportage is changing due to influential young bloggers, like yourself?

I think bloggers in a sense are the celebrities of our generation. It’s very surreal to see bloggers like Bryan Boy sitting alongside Beyonce at Fashion Week. It’s encouraging to know that the industry is changing and no longer do you have to be a traditional celebrity to make it to the top.

Do you feel that you (and other bloggers) are contributing to the journalistic aspect of the fashion industry with what you do?

Of course! Bloggers are the journalists of our generation. Bloggers are providing content, lots of it, on a regular basis. While it might not be in the traditional form it used to appear in blogging, it is definitely still journalism.

Did you ever feel that as CollegeFashionista became more of a business and gained important links to brands you lost the authenticity and ‘street cred’ that is usually identified with a blog?

Not at all!

Written by: Nicole McLennan


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