Just as fashion blogging was beginning to take off in 2007, so too was a more plain-speaking online community – one that gave rise to some of today’s most recognizable fashion voices and figures.
Created on Sept. 29, 2007, by a user called lolmodelbitch, Fashin Fags was a style-focused offshoot of the popular celebrity gossip blog Oh No They Didn’t, on the LiveJournal platform. It was where anonymous users could scrawl graffiti on fashion’s bathroom wall, posting hilariously catty comments about a model’s career or the latest Prada collection.
Although its glory days spanned only four years, the community played witness to the creation of blogger Bryanboy, Hari Nef’s transition from super-user to model and actress, and Jeffree Star’s pivot from singing to cosmetics. It paved the way for the fast fashion news cycle, creating an appetite for trade sites like Business of Fashion (which started as a blog) and the instant catwalk images of Nowfashion. For better or for worse, it was instrumental in the democratization of fashion as we know it.
It was also full of “the meanest, but funniest, people I’ve ever met,” former model and member Marc Sebastian Faiella, 26, said. “Everyone was so unabashedly mean, but they would do it in such a funny way.” Those comments, whether or not they were about him, he said, “were just so funny that you couldn’t really be mad at anyone.”
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The blog’s name changed to Fashin in 2009. “People realized the name was maybe a little offensive,” said Kevin Tu, 28, who took on moderating duties after lolmodelbitch granted him privileges before she disappeared without a trace.
“The attitude on the community was that people were speaking their minds, not really being afraid. A lot of it did have to do with the fact that the creator was essentially an anonymous troll.”
One former member, Dana Kruspe, recalls that “it wasn’t all catty and horrible.”
“I learned a lot there,” Kruspe continued. “The content I was creating for it was just fueled by the people who I knew would enjoy it.”
At its peak, this LiveJournal community became a platform for erudite, acid-tongued fashion fans to school each other on modeling’s fresh new faces, advertising campaigns and histories of the biggest brands. Adding to that conversation could be a formative education. Before publishing a comment, users had to be sure their knowledge of the topic was up to scratch or face a grand jury of fashion experts.
Kruspe often created in-depth posts on the percentage of nonwhite cover stars on any issue of any edition of Vogue (18 percent in 2010) and on how often a publication would photograph an item of clothing from a certain brand. (By her count, Balmain’s heavily borrowed FW 2010 gold dress appeared on eight fashion covers internationally.)
“People used to make tallies of which models would walk what show,” Faiella said. “They used to make tallies of what soundtracks were on which runways, which shows. There used to be blogs where someone would upload pictures before there was anything like Nowfashion. I learned so much from that blog.”
A lot of Fashin’s former members went on to be employed by the industry. Tu, previously at Models.com, now works at the Society Management, a talent agency that handles the careers of Kendall Jenner, Adriana Lima and Lottie Moss. Faiella left modeling for a career in television. David Siwicki, another former member, now does public relations for the of-the-moment brand Vetements. Hari Nef appears on the television show “Transparent” and was most recently featured in a L'Oréal campaign.
Fashin is still online, although Kruspe remembers its most active years being 2008 to 2011. Where posts would once amass nearly 100 comments, now they’re lucky to receive any. Still, for a brief period, Fashin was a stiletto-in-mouth dysfunctional family where opinion was king.
“There isn’t a place to care about fashion as much as we used to,” Faiella said. It was really important, he said, that the blog “gave everyone a platform to talk about how they felt about fashion, what their feelings were and in what direction they thought fashion should head.”
“Now,” he continued, “everyone has a platform, everyone has an Instagram, Twitter, a YouTube channel.”
Tu agreed. “I don’t think I’d be here today if any of that never really happened,” he said. “It really did help people – in the same way it helped me – to find their way through the fashion industry.”