By Carly Cummins There’s no question about it — in the past few years, bloggers have become some of the most influential people in fashion. They’ve earned fashion week front row seats alongside magazine editors and other member of the fashion elite. Instead of designers deciding alone what’s next in fashion, influence is drawn from street style — what people around the world are wearing every day. It’s up to bloggers to capture these unique styles, as well as their own, and publish it through an easily accessible internet platform.
Bloggers hail from all major cities across the world, the most notable being ones in fashion capitals like New York, London, Paris and Milan. Austin, though not quite a fashion capital, is making a name for itself in the fashion world and bloggers are playing a major role in establishing what Austin fashion is all about. UT Radio-Television-Film graduate Joanna Wilkinson is the founder of “Keep Austin Stylish,” a fashion blog that serves as a shopping guide and event calendar for Austin. It also showcases street style at local events and Wilkinson’s own personal style.
Wilkinson started out as a Fashion Merchandising student at UT and switched to Fashion Design before finally settling on Radio-Television-Film. Upon graduation with her RTF degree, she still wasn’t exactly sure what she wanted for her future. “I was admittedly a little all over the place in school and just knew I wanted to do something creative,” says Wilkinson. “But, fashion has always been a big part of my life and a big interest.”
Working at a local boutique gave Wilkinson the idea of writing about Austin fashion as a fun way to fuel her creativity. When her idea was finally put into play, it wasn’t the most fabulous of circumstances. Wilkinson was stuck in her room with Swine Flu, fighting a fever and the boredom that not having a TV brought about. In an effort to overcome this boredom, “Keep Austin Stylish” was born.
Becoming a full-time fashion blogger wasn’t exactly what Wilkinson had in mind when she began the blog, but it has since grown far beyond her initial reader base of just herself and her mom. “Occasionally I get some comments that really do inspire me,” says Wilkinson. “I actually get a lot of people in person tell me that they love my blog because it is well written and because I'm not afraid to speak my mind.”
Along with keeping Austinites up-to-date on the local fashion scene, Wilkinson has also had the opportunity to style and direct local photo shoots, and sit front row at the annual Austin Fashion Week event held every August. She’s working on a few projects for her blog, including the addition of an online store where readers can purchase unique, quality products made locally by independent Austin designers.
Meeting local designers, stylists and photographers is what builds your network as a fashion blogger, and for Wilkinson, it has been one of the best parts about her blog. And that may be what sets the Austin fashion scene a part from places like New York or L.A. — it’s still at that point where these same creative, talented people are considered friends as well as connections.
In a city where the fashion scene is still pretty fresh, it’s ample opportunity to make these connections early. Wilkinson was part of the University Fashion Group during college, which gave her first hand experience with the chaos of working backstage for professional fashion shows. She also held two internships, one at a photography studio and the other as a graphic designer for the UT alumni website. They weren’t exactly fashion-focused, but both have proven beneficial as a fashion blogger, Wilkinson says.
When asked where she sees her career going in the next few years, Wilkinson believes she could be anywhere. “Sometimes I think about quitting my blog, moving to a beach, and trying to learn how to surf,” Wilkinson says. “But that's probably best just to do as a vacation. I get bored easily.”