She might be only 16, but she’s already an entrepreneur and a model of inventive sartorial visual candy. Equipped with a fresh young perspective and already sporting a fierce, iconic hairstyle, Raez’s website Cheap Thrills is part of a world where browsing the internet for strangers and posting photographs of yourself is a daily practice.
Yet, this is not an online dating service – this is the world of fashion blogging. It is a new and exciting landscape where anything goes, the shops never close and fashion inspiration forms an infinite creative space filled with vast, instantaneous and whimsically striking photographs and witty, fearless commentary not bound by editorial guidelines.
Style blogs first emerged in 2002; these days there are around 2 million of them. Whether it is amateur style commentators dissecting the latest collections, established bloggers writing live from Fashion Week, photographers capturing street style, girls posing in new and inventive out-fits, or drooling fashionista’s gushing over the latest pair of Balenciaga wedges, bloggers have now become an integral part of the fashion industry.
Hailing from Winnipeg, Canada, Cheap Thrills is a personal website with entries mostly about “fashion and great photography”. It a hobby Raez likes to “keep low key”, not even her family is aware of it, yet in between an “unglamorous” fast-food restaurant job and school she is slowly becoming the next darling of the cyber-fashion world.
Cheap Thrills is part of a tightly knit blogging community where borders, boundaries and nationalities are of minimal significance. She admits that the beauty of the internet is that it is available to anyone. “Anyone can be a great blogger, as long as you have something fresh to bring to the table.”
Raez reads “hundreds” of blogs a day, but she does confess to favouring a certain country when compiling a list of her favourite bloggers, “I always joke around that the Swedes are hands down the best bloggers (they even have blogging awards!). Maybe it’s true.”
There is no denying that the fashion industry is experiencing a major metamorphosis. Where fashion has normally been the ‘queen of exclusivity’, the empire is now being encroached upon by ‘industry outsiders’ or regular boys and girls molding it with their own hands. Australia has a handful of renowned fashion bloggers, such as Imelda and more recently, 19 year-old model citizen Alexandra Spencer at 4thandBleeker, yet we are only just beginning to catch onto this gripping phenomenon.
Cheap Thrills has brought a welcome injection of teenage fierceness to the sartorial circuit and has already scored a feature on the website of the largest clothing manufacturer in the United States, American Apparel. Advertisers and PR news from young designers often contact her, asking for publicity on her blog. In a recent post , she stands in a Harley Davidson T-shirt from a thrift store, a secondhand mink coat, vintage black buckle up boots, sirens liquid wet-look leggings and random jewelry. There is no denying it – she knows how to put together an outfit with class and a fresh perspective. Her precocious attitude allows her to write with such effortlessness, maturity and awareness that it is no wonder people often question her age.
While Raez is modest about receiving “700-800 visits” to her site a day, she insists that she’s no overnight success story. “It’s a lot of work! No one likes to talk about it, but there’s a lot of link trading and even advertising involved.” All this work however, has never been seen as a chore, but rather a way to feed her fashion cravings and to foster new friendships. “It’s great to chat with like minded people, and I think maintaining friendships can bring a lot of ‘traffic’ and introduce you to a lot of other fantastic bloggers.”
And then there are the ‘anonymous haters’ who can leave taunting, nasty and demoralizing personal attacks under each post. Raez says she’s had a “few haters here and there” but she understands that it is something you just have to take with a grain of salt. “You learn to deal with people like that, and besides, if you’re willing to put pictures of yourself up on the internet then you should expect the criticism that comes along with it.”
So has the blog made any significant changes to Raez’s everyday life?
“Oh yes! Before the blog, I used to have so much time! Usually now, I go to school and think about my next post all day. Basically, I go home, take pictures, post them, reply to comments, go to bed, wake up, and repeat. That pretty much takes a lot of time and effort. I always end up doing my homework at the very last minute!”