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How Hugs Are Helping Tumblr Innovate Fashion Blogging

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Personal style blogger Jaimen Sfetko, who was selected for this season's Tumblr Fashion Week Blogger Program, wears a sweatshirt from the Prabal Gurung for Target collection at Lincoln Center. Photo via <a href="http://www.jaimenlee.com/">JaimenLee.
Personal style blogger Jaimen Sfetko, who was selected for this season's Tumblr Fashion Week Blogger Program, wears a sweatshirt from the Prabal Gurung for Target collection at Lincoln Center. Photo via JaimenLee.

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In the six years since the blogging platform launched, Tumblr and fashion have become fast friends. It makes sense. Fashion thrives on beautiful, inspiring imagery, and Tumblr's likes, notes, and reblog functions make sharing those beautiful images online ridiculously easy.

But beyond the technological strength of the platform, Tumblr has another strategy that sets them apart: They've made the surprising decision to bridge the gap from the internet to real, live, human connection. Last year, they hired a "fashion evangelist," Valentine Uhovski, whose job it is to scour Tumblr for the best fashion blogs, reach out to their creators, and then nurture them—through invitations to networking events, introductions to brands, and, when necessary, hugs.

We shadowed Sfetko during this season's New York Fashion Week. Get a glimpse into her experience in the video above.

That's wildly innovative thinking. To put that into perspective, imagine someone from Twitter shooting you an email to tell you they love your feed and inviting you to a party so that you could meet more like-minded Tweeters. Not likely, right?

But that's exactly what Tumblr does with their Fashion Week Blogger Program. Each season, Tumblr selects a small group of style bloggers to sponsor during New York Fashion Week. There, they attend fashion shows and parties, meet brands, and, well, have fun. The program has proven so successful that its expanded into five additional international cities.

"This our fifth season doing the program and we honestly just want our group to have the time of their lives every single season," Uhovski told us. "We help with requests, scheduling, intros to brands, but at the end of the day our bloggers interpret and cover Fashion Week in their own unique ways. And that's what Tumblr is all about: empowering the creation."

The Tumblr Fashion Week Blogger Program is a powerful launching pad. Take a look at its first class, from back in 2010, which included Erica Domesek of PS I Made This, John Jannuzzi of Textbook, Jamie Beck of From Me to You, and Jessica Quirk of What I Wore. Not only have all these bloggers embarked on successful careers in the industry in the two and a half years since attending the first Program—Domesek and Quirk have both published books, Jannuzzi is a contributing editor for Lucky's website, where he manages the magazine's blogger network, and Beck now regularly photographs campaigns for major fashion brands, including Alice + Olivia and Rachel Zoe.

It's also worth noting that since 2010, the fashion blogging landscape has been flooded with thousands upon thousands of amateur personal style bloggers. Fashion blogs represent about 17 percent of Tumblr's top content. Since fashion brands are hungrier than ever to partner with talented bloggers or "influencers," Tumblr's Fashion Week program might be as useful to brands as it is to bloggers. Tumblr does the time-consuming work of sorting through the sea of content to find the standout talent, and everyone wins.

So how do they chose just six from so many bloggers? "We selected this group based on their individual vertical talents and unique points of view. We looked for fresh faces that would be excited and inspired to indulge in full Fashion Week schedule for the first time," Uhovski told us.

One such fresh face is Jaimen Sfetko, the adorably upbeat personal style blogger who runs JaimenLee.com and was selected as part of this year's Program. "I love her blog, and she looks ridiculously cool all the time," Uhovski told us when we asked what about Sfetko caught his attention. "Jaimen also has a wonderful encyclopedic knowledge of all brands and gives them all equal props, whether we're talking about Forever 21 or Fendi. She was just so joyful at every amazing show, and her energy was contagious from the start."

Sfetko says she's not necessarily looking for a job out of the experience. "I'm just so excited to be here." she told us.

But if she did want one, this would certainly be a step in the right direction.

Watch the video above to get a glimpse into Jaimen's Fashion Week experience.
· Jaimen Lee [Official site]
· The 13 Most Innovative Fashion Companies [Racked]
· All Fashion Week coverage [Racked]