Amy Odell, fashion blogger for New York magazine's The Cut, talks about the implications of a recession-laden Fashion Week and how it will impact her coverage, as well as some of the challenges of being a full-time blogger.
PRWeek: Tell me a little about your background and how you became a blogger for The Cut?
Amy Odell: I had been freelancing for New York magazine for about a year when the opportunity for work for The Cut came up. I was a freelance party reporter, so I was doing a lot of the Party Lines page, which was just going around to parties and interviewing celebrities. I had done a lot of fashion events, so I was sort of their go-to fashion girl. When I found out they were doing a fashion blog, it just sort of happened. Before New York, I was [freelancing] at Conde Nast Traveler. Before that, I worked at Jewcy.com, so a completely different beat. I worked there for a little over a year.
PRWeek: What are your current responsibilities at The Cut?
Odell: Really to just blog. I read anywhere from 50 to 100 blogs, newspapers, magazines, things online everyday. I look through as many fashion magazines as I can every month - the American ones, all the international ones, as many as we can get our hands on - and [I] write items.
PRWeek: How do you sort through the clutter?
Odell: Certain things stand out to you. I get a daily traffic report every day, so I can see what our readers are interested in. A surprising example is Americas Next Top Model. Our readers love [it]. [That's] not to say we'll put up something about Americas Next Top Model on the blog every day. We don't necessarily want that much reality TV content, but a lot is just getting the right mix of stuff. We want our high fashion stuff…then we want our stuff about The Hills and about The City and Whitney Port and Lauren Conrad. You know, pop culture, celebrity, but as it relates to fashion.
PRWeek: What has been popular on your traffic reports lately?
Odell: Things that always do well are the slideshows. A lot of the reality TV stuff is popular, as much as it's kind of hard to admit that. We kind of obsess over The City. I think people are also interested in what's going on with Fashion Week now because a lot of designers are cutting back and doing presentations instead of the fashion shows they used to do. I think it's going to be a really interesting season.
PRWeek: How will fewer shows impact your coverage around Fashion Week?
Odell: We're certainly keeping an eye on it. We want to know who is cutting back, and on what, and who isn't cutting back. What is Marc Jacobs going to do? Is he going to cut back or go all out? The Giorgio Armani store, the brand new giant one, is opening and [it's] having [it's] big opening party during Fashion Week. We expect that to be pretty fabulous. Usually every Fashion Week there's one giant party. Last year, it was Calvin Klein.
PRWeek: Will you be reporting in different ways?
Odell: I think we will be reporting in different ways. Each season you pick a theme you want to focus on and you look for certain things. I'm going to be looking at the show to see if it's evident that they cut back on anything. I'm also going to be looking at people in the front row. What are they going to be wearing? Are they still flashy? Are they showing off? And also, in the tents, is it going to be the same level of sponsorship? Is there going to be as much free champagne as there was last season?
PRWeek: How is the economy affecting the kind of material (products and topics) you blog about, if at all?
Odell: I think it's had a huge effect on the blog because I feel like every post I'm writing has something to do with the recession, because the fashion industry is taking a hit and that's what's in the news every day. [A big story is] how fashion companies are dealing with the recession and economy and, you know, who's laying people off.
PRWeek: Are you also feeling pressured to feature low-cost products?
Odell: I don't feel pressured. I feel like organically that's sort of what you want to write about. I'm certainly not purchasing anything full-price anyway. I write about things I'm interested in. You sort through a lot of junk, and when something catches your eye, it catches your eye. I'm certainly interested in what's going on. Even before the economy was going so bad, I wanted to know where I could get things that were affordable and still great. So I think we always want to show people what they can get that's affordable. What's really popular are posts about the Target or H&M collaborations, these big designers doing affordable lines.
PRWeek: What are some other external trends impacting the fashion industry, and your coverage?
Odell: I think you're going to see a lot more of the H&M and Target collaborations. It will be interesting to see what the clothes are going to be like at Fashion Week, whether designers are going to try to do something different, really innovative, or whether they're going to play it safe because they're afraid they're not going to sell stuff.
PRWeek: Are you feeling at all some resistance from the industry to include you in the ranks of traditional reporters and editors?
Odell: I would say very seldom do I feel that way, that I'm the lowly blogger. I would say that fashion companies are getting good with understanding that things go on blogs before they go anywhere else. The designer collaborations, the images, always leak online…We've been able to arrange for our own exclusives for stuff like that. Sometimes certain companies really want something to go in a print magazine first and we can't get it if they want it to go in W, but I think we're doing pretty well.
PRWeek: How does The Cut differ from other fashion blogs that may not be attached or associated with a credible publications? Maybe like Fashionista or JC report?
Odell: We have a different tone. We try to be funny and enthusiastic about everything. We also try to be really careful with what we print. We're not out there to offend anybody or be mean. We love fashion, and it's really about sharing our love of fashion with the world. We really try not to print rumors on a whim. We try to investigate before we print stuff.
PRWeek: What's your favorite thing to write about?
Odell: I love covering Fashion Week. I love love love the men's collections in Europe that are coming out the 17th. I want to say I think they're great because they're so over-the-top and out there and when you watch the women's collections, you can see people wearing them, but men are not as fashion-forward as women.
PRWeek: What kind of pitch do you like to receive from PR pros?
Odell: If there's a new line or a new book coming out, we love an exclusive preview. The more images the better.
PRWeek: How do you like to interact with PR pros?
Odell: Via e-mail definitely because I'm so busy. I don't have time to answer my phone during the day, but I do look at all my e-mails even if I don't write everyone back.
PRWeek: What's the craziest pitch you've received?
Odell: We get a lot of ridiculous things. People have silly products. There's one company that makes abs in a box - you paint the muscle lines - and also boobs in a box - quirky products.
PRWeek: What's the greatest challenge of being a fashion blogger for you?
Odell: Probably the same with any blogger: Keeping up with everything; staying super on top of the news. In the blogging world, if something happens in morning and you don't see it until 3 pm, then you're too late. You're on IM, reading your RSS feeds, answering your phone…you have to be hyper-alert, efficient, really fast. It takes practice. I did not come on as a trained blogger. I went through boot camp here (laughs). New York Magazine is great. They whipped me into shape.
Name: Amy Odell
Title: Fashion blogger
Outlet: New York
Preferred e-mail address: email@example.com
Web site: The Cut www.nymag.com/daily.fashion