The internet may be saturated with fashion bloggers, but that won’t stop H&M from trying to identify the next Leandra Medine, the quirky fashionista behind Man Repeller, with the help of Medine herself.
Medine is the face of a mentorship program hosted by H&M and blog network Bloglovin to identify the next star of the blogosphere. Five finalists will be flown out to H&M’s New York headquarters this summer to work with Medine on fine tuning their blogs and building their brands.
Meanwhile, H&M gets a visibility boost among the fashion influencer pool, as the prospective bloggers are required to style an outfit using an H&M garment as part of their application.
Marybeth Schmitt, communications director at H&M, said the global retailer has a strong relationship with Medine, who she called a “pioneer within the blogging and fashion industry.” She noted that part of what makes bloggers so vital to fashion is how they demonstrate style in a way that is both relatable and tangible.
“Digital media is no longer the future but the present,” Schmitt said. “Bloggers are everywhere. They have strong global influence that represents different styles and personalities, which is key in being able to show how clothing can work for work everyone.”
Over the past few years, fashion bloggers and influencers have gained widespread influence in setting trends and dictating style, a large-scale democratization in the industry that has wrested some power away from gatekeepers like fashion editors. Man Repeller has 1.4 million Instagram followers and nearly 360,000 on Twitter.
Medine rose from obscurity in 2011 by way of her personal blog, which centered on trends that “women love and men hate.” Her witty entries, like tips for dressing as an individual rather than for the opposite sex, struck a chord with the fashion world.
Medine’s formerly one-woman website has since grown to a ten-person staff that handles day-to-day operations of the site and caters to its 1 million unique monthly visitors.
“What started as a unique point of view that Leandra realized was being underserved quickly turned into way more than ‘a blog.’ It became a community,” the Man Repeller team wrote in a post about the H&M and Bloglovin partnership.
Community is a major mission for the Bloglovin as well, a blog discovery platform that first partnered with H&M last year for a similar competition hosted by lesser-known fashion bloggers. That competition yielded 2,000 applicants; Emily Erardy, marketing director at Bloglovin’, said she expects an uptick this year now that the program is offered globally.
“It’s really about these bloggers as entrepreneurs. They’re businesswomen and we want to celebrate that,” said Kelly Gallozzi, svp of sales & partnerships at Bloglovin.
The winner will be named “Breakthrough Fashion Blogger of the Year” at the Bloglovin Awards during New York Fashion Week in September and will be featured in H&M Magazine.
“Bloggers are instrumental to everything we do,” Schmitt said. “We admire their passion and love that they showcase how H&M products can work for anyone and everyone – not matter what age, body type, or style”
Last year’s winner, Thrifts and Threads, an LA-based lifestyle blog focused on vintage clothing, is now represented by Socialyte, and has greatly increased traffic as a result of the mentorship program, Gallozzi said.