Kelsi Smith: The future of fashion is online and on the street
The future of Los Angeles fashion is online and on the streets, at least according to Kelsi Smith. The 27-year-old London transplant is becoming an unlikely leader in creating a collective voice for the city's style blogging set, and trying to come up with a better way than the traditional runway for emerging designers to gain exposure.
Smith and her business partner, Cuit Gonzalez, recently launched Fash Mobs, a new production concept to present fashion shows in public spaces and high-traffic areas. The first Fash Mob was held at the inaugural Los Feliz Fashion Fest at the Los Feliz Street Fair on July 24, featuring models in bikinis designed by Cia Maritima. As cute as the swimwear was, another show was just as compelling -- what the crowd was wearing. And that was the point.
The pop-up fashion-presentation format is driven by the kind of spontaneity and enthusiasm for street fashion that have made style blogs -- including Smith's own Dedicated Follower of Fashion -- such a phenomenon.
"The idea evolved because I was frustrated with L.A. Fashion Week," said Smith, who moved to L.A. six years ago to become an actress but ended up becoming a style blogger instead. "In terms of established designers doing runway shows, New York has that covered. L.A. is a springboard for new designers, and should embrace that by taking advantage of the entertainment industry, the weather and the great locations to do something community-based."
(Smith knows first-hand, having previously worked with Fashion Los Angeles organizer Michael Venedicto on an aborted effort to revitalize the local fashion week.)
Smith, who lives in Glendale with her graphic designer husband and names Wren's Melissa Coker as her favorite local designer, says she has been talking to the L.A. Fashion District about producing the next Fash Mob downtown during market week in October.
She already has a built-in audience and megaphone. Last year, Smith created an organization to leverage the collective power of L.A.'s style blogs, called Two Point Oh LA!. Two Point Oh is a social media sorority of sorts, with 120 members and counting who meet monthly for events, which could be a picnic or a holiday formal. Not surprisingly, brands have lined up to be sponsors and provide free products, including Pepsi, Crossroads Trading Company, Forever 21 and Reef.
Similar blogger networks exist in other cities, but Smith's is the first in L.A. To join Two Point Oh, bloggers must have three months of experience and post at least once a week. Dues are $45 annually. Popular local style blogs RackedLA.com, LiveLoveLA.com and StyleSectionLA.com are among the members.
Two Point Oh partners with fashion brands on events (instructing bloggers to follow FCC guidelines about disclosure of gifted products or services). For a fee, members attend, participate in and write about parties and launches, such as the Grammy Style Studio gifting suite. Last October, at the South Bay Mall's 25th anniversary "1980s style off," Two Point Oh bloggers styled looks and shoppers voted on their favorites.
A weekly newsletter lists store openings, discount salon treatments and job openings of interest to members -- assuming they don't want to be style bloggers forever. Though I really can't imagine why. Now that superstar bloggers have talent agents, front-row seats at fashion shows, endorsement deals and clothing lines, it doesn't sound like a bad career choice.
-- Booth Moore
Photo: A Fash Mob swim wear show by Cia Maritima at the Los Feliz Fashion Fest July 24. Credit: Rachael LaRoche