There’s an urban legend that the head offices of brands like Timberland and Rockport once issued an order to turn a blind eye to young African Americans who were shoplifting from their stores. While it’s difficult to verify the story, remnants of the practice seem to be hanging around to this day – people in the know still leave all the stickers on their 59fifty caps and it’s not uncommon to see people wearing Timberland boots with the tags still on and the laces tied very loosely, as if they’ve just been trying them on. The theory is that for every young urban dude wearing Timberlands while he was dealing weed on street corners, brands would sell ten pairs to skinny white boys who wanted to be ‘cool’ like them.
Whether or not the practice is true, it weirdly prefaced the ways brands now behave towards celebrities – it’s now common practice for companies to gift products to celebrities. Of course, if we believe the bravado of a lot of popular rappers, they may have acquired their Timberlands through both methods. When Tyler the Creator accepted the Best New Artist in 2011, he wore jeans, a tie-dye t-shirt and a Supreme cap. Since then (well, actually, since a little before then) Tyler the Creator gets a free pass to any Supreme gear he wants, something he references in Goblin – ‘Made a couple thou’ and I just don’t know what to buy yet, the ‘preme shit is free and I don’t drink, so fuck a wine set.’
So how does all of this relate to fashion and beauty bloggers? Give me a minute, I’m getting there. While it’s unlikely that brands ever chase celebrities to find out whether or not they’ve ‘worn the stuff yet’, the same isn’t the case with the bloggers – if you accept some freebies and don’t write anything about them after a week or two, then somebody’s going be in trouble! I spoke to a couple of bloggers who said they feel a lot of pressure to be ‘diplomatic’ with their wording when writing about free products. Of course, this is a double edged sword. While you don’t want to disappoint brands or PRs who’ve sent you a big box of presents it’s difficult to get enthusiastic about something you’ve been underwhelmed by – the last thing you need is a bunch of readers calling you a sell-out for endorsing a crappy product.
As for actually getting freebies offered and being invited to events. I’m probably not the best person to tell you how to do this – I still don’t understand how or why I get half as many invites to stuff as I do. The only thing I can suggest is to keep writing, make sure that you have a fresh, unique voice (i.e. don’t just say stuff is ‘nice’. The Marni H&M collection is nice. My Glossybox this month is nice. My frontal lobotomy was nice. You don’t have to get nasty, just say something a bit…different) and try to make friends with PRs on Twitter. But don’t be desperate about it…and DON’T ask for freebies; it screams that you’re into blogging for all the wrong reasons. A few PRs that have been extra nice to me recently include Immediate, Katch and Push PR; the least I can do is share my love for them with you guys!
The bottom line is that you should probably not take freebies or gifts unless they’re relevant to you, your blog and its audience. Unless you’re me, in which case check out this Extra Strong Grip hairspray by Clynol and some makeup I got in a goodie bag from an event. Luv u guyz!