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Scott Schuman: “Magazines are driven by fear”

September 28, 2011

Mr. Schuman, nowadays teenage bloggers like Tavi Gevinson are getting flown around the world to sit on the front rows of fashion shows in order to write about them. Isn’t that getting a little absurd?

Well I don’t think her audience is that big. I think her success is a little bit of a conspiracy by established print media that wanted to show that this blog thing is not that important, that it’s done by a bunch of twelve year olds. But a lot of us are serious grown-ups. I think it’s great that Tavi can create a blog and write for other people that are like-minded – probably other kids around her age – but I don’t know how that is going to help a 26-year old, if she has never had a boyfriend or any of that kind of stuff. She’s just a kid, so she can talk about art and stuff only in an abstract way.

Do you think she is going to last?

She might grow into that position, but to me it is like a five-year old Michael Jackson singing about love – to him they are just words. It is just an abstract concept. One of the other problems of many blogs like Tavi’s is that they are people who write about fashion, but in order to have a visual element they steal pictures from other people.

And the pictures they do take themselves often look terrible…

True and as soon as they start getting some real advertisement, all the people they have been stealing pictures from are going to call and say, “I need some money. Why do you keep stealing my pictures?” So for blogs to take the next step, they have to have people like me who are in charge of all the elements – the writing, the visual, everything. Those are the ones companies can buy into, because I control everything. For someone like Tavi to take the next step, she is going to have to go out and get a photographer to shoot everything.

Do you read any other fashion blogs?

No not really. The only one I look at is my girlfriend Garance Dore. To me she is the game-changer right now. She is a great writer, she does video, illustration, and photography. I look at her and I get jealous because she is so artistic in so many different ways – she does great illustrations, heart-felt writing, beautiful photography, and inspiring videos. She is funny, consistent, and her point of view on fashion is great. So that is the only blog that I look at on a consistent basis.

Do you fear competition as more and more copycats of your website The Sartorialist appear online?

No because in order to do it with any longevity you actually have to make a business out of it and actually be able to make money. They might do it for a little while, but it’s hard to keep the passion to do it until you make money with it. And as soon as they start making money, if they are not controlling that, all the money is going to go right out to all those people they are taking stuff from. So I don’t know how a lot of them are going to make a business out of it.

Talking about financial benefits. Do you make money off your blog or do you make money because of what you have created around your blog?



American Apparel bought advertising for the whole year and then I just got an email yesterday that Net-A-Porter.com is going to buy advertisements for the rest of the year (2010) as well. So those two ads alone are a good fraction of a million dollars: more than a quarter million and less than a half a million. The key for me, and for Garance also, is like any good business: diversity. I make money from shooting campaigns and editorials, from prints, the rerelease of my photos in different magazines, and from doing personal appearances. I make money from a bunch of different places.

So are the times when a blog couldn’t make any money over?

Yes, the blog itself is really making money. My audience is so much larger than everybody else’s that advertisers, well at least American Apparel told me that I am not in their internet budget. My order is so big and they have to pay so much that I am actually in their magazine budget. That comes from having a good size audience.

Also the price of an ad on your page for a whole year is still fairly cheap compared to, let’s say, a double page in a big fashion magazine.

Oh yeah definitely. But I think the thing that has worked really well, and this is potentially a new day in media, is that what they are buying into is not just the image but also the amount of integrity. The thing that I am very proud of is, even though they bought ads for an entire year, I have no relationship with my advertisers; I have no contact with them.

They are not calling you saying, “Every month we need to have this and that.”

No, there is nothing. I don’t think of them as advertisers; I think of them like a sponsor. They are kind of sponsoring the site. They let me go out there and do my thing.

Have magazines lost their integrity because of the power advertisers have?

I think everyone knows not to believe in magazines anymore, they know that magazines are just page after page of advertisers.

What do you mean?

Magazines are driven by fear: they have to keep these advertisers and do these things for them. But now blogs have grown so big that I get emails like that all the time. But we know, Garance and I, that the thing for us is the level of integrity so we just don’t do it.

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Short Profile

Name: Scott Schuman
10 January 1968
Place of Birth:
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Blogger, Photographer

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144 Responses to this Interview

  1. What an as-s, even by definition he is presumptuous, THE sartorialist…At least Tavi goes as a Rookie, she does not aim to give lecture in art, I think he s jealous that she has way more interesting influences than him and has come up with a better product than he has.

  2. 2014 – Tavi is everywhere. Mr. Schuman, on the other hand….

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