S: Pop of Sunshine

February 24th, 2011 § 28 comments

S: Pop of Sunshine

Before I say something about the outfit, I just wanted to note that I’ve loved the discussion on the background of Banana Republic’s name and the cultural nostalgia imbued in the company’s campaign. Thanks to my co-blogger E, I’ve learned a few new things myself this week. And thanks to those of you who chimed in with comments and further suggested readings on the topic!

In addition to questions regarding our collaboration with a large retailer this week, we’ve received several comments and emails expressing surprise at our decision to take on sponsorship. As sponsorship seems to function in different ways on different blogs, it might help if we clarify what it is that we’re looking to do so that those concerned about the future of academichic may find their questions answered. Readers who have expressed apprehension at the possibility of us changing our styles to reflect a company or sponsoring retailer may rest assured that this is not what we are looking to do. We’re simply looking for sponsorship in the form of a small ad (as seen with the sample on our sidebar) that would allow us to incure a bit of monthly income to offset some of the costs of this blog…our Pro Flickr account, the shipping on the almost weekly giveaways we host, and some of our camera equipment and accessories.

We love procurring our wardrobes through a variety of ways – sales, thrift stores, hand me downs, eBay, etc – and would never want to trade that in. (In fact, stay tuned for an upcoming Weekend Workshop that I’ve been working on regarding budget shopping tips!).

As long-time followers of academichic know, we’ve always accepted items for review that mesh with our style and aesthetic and we’re especially keen to do that when our readers benefit in the process; that’s how we are able to host those awesome giveaways.

We are especially happy to review and feature products that benefit a particular organization or project that funds causes we believe in and we also loved getting to collaborate with Banana Republic because we are all long-time fans of their quality-made and classically tailored items. We did not receive free items from Banana Republic for working with them but simply a limited time discount and the $50 gift card as a giveaway bonus to one of our readers. Since we already feature many items from this particular retailer on a regular basis in our daily outfit posts, we were delighted to explore their new Spring line and to be able to gift one of our readers a spending allowance at a store we love.

That, in a nutshell, is how we see our role in collaborating with companies and small businesses. Other than the small sidebar ads, our policies are same as they have always been.

And, lastly, I also want to add that it’s been nothing but encouraging to read all the comments and reactions to our sponsorship post because it’s shown us all how vested so many of our readers feel in the future of this site. It’s wonderful to see so many people care enough to comment or write in regarding the future of our blog. Thank you for that! We love working on academichic and we love seeing how many people care about the site enough to write in, comment, and engage in lively discussions week after week. We look forward to many more posts and conversations with you!

Ok, and now on to a few words on the outfit itself…

After showing you my two dress(y) looks, here come my casual outfits. I loved everything about this look because it’s one I could easily see myself wearing day in, day out. And can you believe I actually fit into a pair of Banana Republic’s jean leggings at almost 18 weeks pregnant? I did leave the top button undone and used the hair elastic trick but couldn’t believe how comfortable these pants were even in my preggers state. I would have definitely bought this pair if I weren’t quickly expanding and uncertain of what my post-preggers size will be.

I added this comfortable tunic and belted above the bump to give the outfit a bit more structure. Embellished flats pick up the dark neutrals of the rest of the outfit as does this silver and ribbon bracelet. And the best part? The awesome yellow bag that adds a pop of sunshine to an otherwise more somber look.

You can find the striped tunic here, the dark denim leggings here, the skinny belt here, the vintage -inspired stud earrings here, the bag here, and for the flats and bracelet, you’ll just have to go to the store.

S: Pop of Sunshine

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§ 28 Responses to S: Pop of Sunshine"

  1. StephL says:

    I, too, was surprised by the set of BR posts and the relationship they imply. I am not a long-time follower, but I always have an extra swell of admiration for both your fashion and thoughtfulness when the post includes a thrifted, hand-me-down, or DIY item. Glad to hear that you want to preserve that and I appreciate the discussion around this issue. It’s good to wrestle with the question of supporting big retailers and how and where their clothes are manufactured (but still patronize them occasionally…) I visit responsibleshopper.org regularly to keep challenging myself to make clothing choices that consider people and planet.

  2. bella says:

    I personally see no objection to creative collaborations with sponsors as long as you declare upfront what you’re getting in return.

  3. Kathleen says:

    More power to the four of you if accepting sponsorships here and there helps with the upkeep of your blog and doesn’t detract from your overall mission and goals.

  4. THanks for the commentary on your BR sponsorship. Honestly, I wasn’t surprised to see this as you girls wear A LOT of stuff from Banana. IT just makes sense. Anywho, keep on doing your awesome fashioning and sharing these adorable outfits with us.

    PS- Love the bump accentuation with this tunic!

  5. Jess says:

    I think academichic’s approach toward sponsorship and collaboration is admirable and well deserved. I concur with others that I’m glad you’re having an open discussion, but I think for all the time and resources you all put into this blog anything that offsets the costs is truly well earned.

  6. syd says:

    I appreciate the efforts for transparency, and agree that sponsorship is a valid way to offset maintenance costs, as long as it’s clearly explained. I guess I’m just a bit disappointed because this blog seems to have the potential to contribute to the growing field of digital humanities, particularly as it often attempts to bridge theory and praxis and to move academic discussions outside the bounds of the academy. These are valuable enterprises, especially considering the myriad crises facing the academy right now (and, I think, might also be valuable on an individually professional level). Sponsorship, no matter how innocuous, seems at odds with that potential. Which, of course, is fine–that may not be a direction that interests y’all. In any case, thanks for the clarification.

    • admin says:

      Syd – thank you for your comment and your thoughts on the field of digital humanities. I’m not very familiar with this term but I’m intrigued! Based on how you describe it, would you mind clarifying why you think sponsorship and a discussion on gender/theory/academia would be at odds?

      - S.

  7. syd says:

    For more on digital humanities, you might check out HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaborative–http://www.hastac.org/about-hastac). To the extent that this blog uses technology to mediate discussions about gender, theory, and pedagogy, as well as to publicly (and I mean that as a public distinct from the academy) explore the ways theoretical concerns affect everyday practice, it seems very much in line with many of the interests of digital humanitites.

    As far as sponsorship goes, my reactions are a mix of practical and philosophical. On the practical level, I think partnering with companies, and even accepting things for review, raises questions about the rigor of the undertaking–which is of course only a problem if you want to assert that the undertaking is rigorous. I also think there’s a distinction to be made between the personal and the professional, as well as the type of profession. If your profession is style-blogger, then sponsorship might be appropriate. If this project is framed as an outgrowth of your profession as an academic, then it seems less so, much as you would not accept corporate sponsorships for your scholarship (again on a practical level–it would look a bit iffy on your CV). However idealized, we like to think of the academy’s separation from corporate interests as a necessary element in critiquing power structures. Of course, that same separation plays into the anti-elitist ivory tower view of the academy, which is what makes projects like yours important–they demonstrate the significance and applications of academic work, and they do so in a public space outside the academy. But if that work is to be at all radical, then it seems to me that corporate sponsorship of any kind undercuts the project’s credibility.

    I remember you writing a couple of years ago about your uncertainty about whether or not to direct a student in need of style advice to this blog. I think there’s a lot of productive potential in directing a student to a blog that both gives style advice and addresses the attendant academic and theoretical issues, and that could arguably be a great pedagogical move. A blog that offers sponsored posts by an instructor, however, might blur some lines, professionally-speaking. I would direct one of my students to the former, but perhaps not the latter.

    • syd says:

      I would also add that, practically speaking, the price of fame is notoriety, and it seems increasingly likely that you may get recognized when you go on the job market, in which case it might be prudent to be able to speak to the ways your blog functions within the context of your research and pedagogy.

      • admin says:

        Thanks, Syd, for taking the time to reply to my question! You make some really interesting points and I would need to look more into Digital Humanities and the things you bring up before I could say more to that.

        I guess I view this project differently from how you frame it within the digital humanities matrix. I can’t speak for my co-bloggers and how they conceive of the blog in regards to their academic work and its role within the academy, but for me, the site has always been a hobby, a past-time, an outlet OUTSIDE of my work.

        I guess I conceive of it the way one would think of an involvement in a band (if only I could carry a tune or play an instrument!) or any hobby or craft that provides another aspect to life other than work and career. And if I played in a band, I’d have no problem accepting paid gigs. Similarly, I make jewelry as a hobby (or used to). I wouldn’t see a problem with selling some of that jewelry on Etsy.

        That’s how I conceive of receiving sponsorship for blogging. Just as I don’t think getting paid to play at a show or to sell my earrings on Etsy would compromise the integrity of my work there, I don’t see why paid sponsorship would conflict with my work here.

        I am aware that we might get recognized by future work colleagues or hiring departments and I’m not sure what I would say to them about that if they asked about the site. But I don’t think I would contextualize it within my research or pedagogy because I wouldn’t contextualize my running (however contemplative the action) within my reasearch. It’s something I do for me outside of work.

        I hope this responds to some of your comments because I really appreciate the time you took to write and find your obervations fascinating! I was just struck by how differently I think about the site and wanted to illuminate some of that (although author intentionality is neither here nor there, right? I definitely agree with Foucaut that the author is dead, meaning that my take on what the site is isn’t any more relevant that what your take on it is).

        - S.

        • syd says:

          I think intentionality is absolutely relevant in this case, especially as this text is far from static. And I don’t disagree that academichic should probably be read as a hobbyist blog, particularly if that’s the way it is conceived and framed. And within that context, accepting sponsorships can be appropriate (although other hobbyist bloggers might disagree with you–smittenkitchen, for instance). My reaction was more to the sense that the blog had a certain professional/academic potential that might be diminished by sponsorship. In other words, I don’t want to argue that you should frame the blog in the terms I’ve outlined, or that I necessarily read it through that lens, just that I think it would be interesting and productive if you did.

  8. Eleanorjane says:

    Hmm… I’m less fond of the Banana Republic thing, mainly because I live in New Zealand where we don’t have that store and the shipping is prohibitive to order online. So it’s all a bit less relevant.

    I also agree that these posts have seemed quite diffferent to your normal posts and even your normal style (even if you all used lots of BR stuff before, it probably wasn’t head to toe previously!). I love seeing how you all work and re-work your various items from various places. It’s not the same going into a store and developing an outfit from all new stuff.

    • Rosa says:

      Long time reader, first time commenter :) Just chiming in with EleanorJane to say that to those of us who don’t live in countries with Banana Republic shops, their new spring line is irrelevant. Which isn’t to say that you shouldn’t discuss it, or that you should only talk about global brands, but just to say that your readership is much much wider than the U.S.?

  9. Lisa J. says:

    There’s a great article in this weekend’s (forthcoming) New York Times Magazine that focuses on “Mommy Blogs” — but it raises a lot of really interesting questions and perspectives about the lines bloggers have to continually cross – between personal life and what you expose and a lot of nuances about commericalism, sponsorship and revenue: http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/23/queens-of-the-mom-blog-kingdom/?scp=1&sq=Queens%20of%20the%20Mom-Blog&st=cse

    • admin says:

      Hi Lisa,

      Thanks for linking that NYT article. I thought it was particularly interesting that the author likened blogging to “18th century journaling and 19th century magazine serials.” As someone who has journaled for years, I do reflect occasionally on who exactly it is that I’m writing to/for or is it just for me. Would I be upset if my family read them? My future children? After my grandparents died my father burned a whole stack of letters that they had exchanged during the first years of their courtship and marriage. I was irate, but he said that they were their’s and not ours to read. Maybe because I was removed a generation I felt differently, but it seemed to me that I’d lost part of my heritage and would never have a glimpse into the past to see what my grandparents were like when they were my age in the 1930s. Because our blog is mostly about style and not about our personal lives I had never really thought about it as a “journaling” type endeavor, but I’m going to have to think about that more. Anyway, thank you for sharing the NYT article – very thought provoking on many levels.

      ~L.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for this link, Lisa! It was a great read, especially since I love Heather Armstrong of Dooce and follow her on her blog and have read her awesome book “It sucked and then I cried”. It was interesting to get more background story on her site and the business aspect of it.

      In terms of the debate going on here, I thought there were some interesting points made in the article about the sentiments expressed when bloggers advertise on their sites, particularly the notion that it disrupts the idea that “we’re all friends here”.

      I prefer to see it through the lens – also offered in the article as another viewpoint – of powerful women making a lucrative career out of their personal narratives. I think it’s admirable and, yes, even enviable.

      Thanks, again, for a great read! S.

      • syd says:

        Lisa, I thought of this blog when I read that article, as well. :) I agree that the “we’re all friends here” attitude S. pointed to is not the best way to think about blogging, and has some troubling gender implications (although it might also speak to the gendered corners of the blogosphere–mommy blogs, style blogs, craft blogs, etc.). But if sponsorships reminds your readers that we’re not all friends here–that this is a commercial venture, to whatever small degree–it also reminds them that they are ultimately what is being sold. The difference between the band or the Etsy seller is that it’s a fairly straightforward transaction in which the person receiving the service provides compensation. The service you provide is to your sponsors–bringing readers’ attention to their products. The much smaller sponsorship-related service provided to your readers–the giveaways–is, from the sponsors’ perspective, entirely intended to get more pageviews (or facebook page likes). All your readers go “like” BR’s facebook page, one reader gets a gift card, y’all get some compensation (which sounds pretty minimal in this case). The big winner, then is BR, who has increased their facebook presence by buying “likes” from your blog.

        Not only does sponsorship highlight that we’re not all friends here (which is fine–I don’t actually know any of you), but it also introduces an adversarial element that comes with consumer capitalism. Which, again, is your call, but I do think it deserves to be fully acknowledged. The blog is your service to readers, who do not pay for that service, but whose pageviews and facebook “likes” are in turn sold to advertisers and sponsors.

  10. Bex says:

    Well, I really appreciate the clarification about BR and its overt appearance here. I see the sponsorship thing from a different perspective…I think every style/clothing/design blog ends up being (de facto) a long advertisement for brands, objects, lifestyles. I’m not sure what the difference is between that and overt sponsorship, really. Certainly, I would prefer for your blog to be financially supported in some manner (via readers or ads or…) rather than see it go away.

  11. kaiting says:

    Thank you, S., for addressing this issue in more detail. I’ve always enjoyed your style because it so closely mirrors my own- travel-ready, largely thrifted and inherited, comfortable but colourful and inventive.

    In regards to sponsorship, I second Syd’s thoughts. You’ve so graciously spoken to some of these concerns and that invites frankness in return. I will need to read future posts with less-neutral eyes and an awareness that you all are no longer amateur writers. If it’s what you all need to do, then so be it.

    The intitial draw for me was that you all were on limited budgets and finding your ways (sartorially and professionally) in environments that one essentially must break into (e.g. youth often counts against one in academia, whether you’re faculty or staff).

    Aspirational dressing does little for me- instead what is instructive is how others are managing this transition and finding support (from colleagues, even students) about their presentation, in so far as it’s part of the total package of who they are and what they can contribute in the workplace.

  12. Bettina says:

    I have to say I agree a lot with what Eleanorjane and Kaiting have said (to some degree also with Syd). I was drawn to your blog because I thought I was in a similar situation as you: that of a grad student with a limited wardrobe and a limited budget, and I’ve always really enjoyed your posts on how to work with these limitations. I also love the way you try to bring your personal style into academia, as you put it, going “beyond the polyester suit of academic yore”. I have to say that I am a little bit worried the identification factor that has made this blog so interesting for me might go away as you professionalise.

  13. Cardinal says:

    A few thoughts: Of course your own personal styles evolve over time, and that might well include more retail pieces in addition to the thrifted/traded/adapted pieces. If some readers are disappointed because your style is diverging from their own, that’s a shame for those readers, but I’m enjoying watching all of you develop (to the extent that you choose to share) as women, scholars, and Chics! Most BR clothing doesn’t fit me very well but I still learn from seeing how y’all combine various pieces.

    I wanted to reply to syd’s suggestion that accepting sponsorship somehow invalidates scholarship and point out that this attitude is pretty much confined to the humanities. In the physical sciences and engineering, a good many research grants (and even more research facilities) are funded by private corporations or by public-private partnerships. While purists and idealists might tear their hair over this state of affairs, it is a fact of life in those fields. Perhaps the humanities and social sciences can learn something from that model!

    • syd says:

      Cardinal–I was, indeed, thinking specifically about the humanities. While I’m not thrilled by the amount of research funding that comes from private corporations, I understand that scientific research is expensive, and there is arguably a practical necessity for such sponsorships. Humanities research, on the other hand, is not terribly expensive, and tends not to have direct applications for corporate America (which isn’t to say it doesn’t have applications, just that they’re not all that easily monetized). For that reason, I would not want to see increased private partnerships in the humanities, as I’m afraid the result would be an increased emphasis on practical applications for corporate interests. This would not, I think, help me better serve my students, which is what I see as my primary function.

  14. Sarah says:

    I too am somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of corporate sponsorship informing or underpinning any supposedly independent blog. I read fashion blogs like academichic or kendi everyday precisely because I want to read the opinions, ideas and thoughts of individuals, not be advertised to or have products from a certain company touted to me. If I wanted that I would read Vogue.
    It is naive to think that sponsorship from a fashion retailer won’t affect what is written in a fashion blog: I know it will certainly affect how I read this blog in the future, since (try as I might) I will not be able to take any recommendations/praise for BR products without a large pinch of salt.
    I have also found the posts based on the BR clothes in the past few days much less interesting than previous posts: they read more like advertorial than anything else. What makes the outfits on academichic so inspiring is the mix of high-street, thrifted, borrowed, swapped and eBayed pieces, rather than just a bland mix of clothes anyone could pick up at a high street shop.
    I must admit I am disappointed, and will be turning more and more to Kendi Everyday as a truly independent daily fashion blog for inspiration untainted by any hint of corporate advertising.

    • admin says:

      Sarah – I love Kendi Everyday, it’s one of my favorite reads and I can’t say enough good things about her site. But it would be unfair to not point out that Kendi has quit her job and is a professional blogger, meaning that her business is her blog and she is highly sponsored. Just scroll down her sidebar and take a look at all the companies that sponsor and fund her site and sent her items for review.

      That doesn’t negate the quality of her work in my opinion, but if you’re looking for a blog independent of sponsorship, that would not be it.

      S.

      • Kim says:

        I think this is a fair point, and like another commenter posted below, I think that some of the criticism you ladies have received for featuring the BR posts has been excessive. I see very few prominent fashion blogs that don’t receive sponsorship of some kind and, as another PhD student, I know keeping this blog fresh while doing your studies on top of it must truly be a labour of love – I am happy to see you guys receive some measure of compensation for your work.

        That being said, I do agree that the BR posts felt a bit like advertisements – but I have really enjoyed reading the discussion that the week has generated. I think considering the role that a blog and blogger can and should play, how sponsors relate to those interests, etc, are worthwhile questions that you guys have been doing a great job of tackling. One of the reasons I really enjoy academichic is the thoughtful content and your willingness to investigate the deeper issues behind fashion and style. I trust that all of you won’t replace that with becoming a magazine spread anytime soon. :)

  15. Maria says:

    I’m glad you all are finding ways to defray the costs of blogging (and hopefully, eventually, to pay for some of the time it takes) through sponsorships that fit with your ethos. This blog is one of the most thoughtful I read each day. And one that I get a great deal of enjoyment from. While I agree with the comments of those who feel like a increase in sponsorship on a blog *can* be a cause for caution, I trust S, L, E, and A to navigate the challenges of sponsorship with the same grace that they navigate the many other challenges of blogging.

  16. SM says:

    I think this blog provides a service which everyone who commented here obviously values. As a regular reader of this blog, I don’t expect the academichic to provide this service to me without compensation, or at their own expense. I am perfectly happy to support this blog by occasionally looking at sponsored items.

    Also, I think some of the comments criticizing the style of this blog post are unfair. These posts were not a permanent departure from academichic style. If all future posts featured new, BR clothes, I would probably quit reading. But I also don’t expect all posts to feature the same style or only thrifted clothing. I think some variety is much more interesting.

  17. [...] outfit look familiar? Well, if it doesn’t, let me just remind you of where you might have seen it last. I loved how E. took one of the looks she created with the items from Banana Republic’s [...]

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