Those who don’t work at fashion magazines might not be familiar with the industry’s propensity for gifting. It could be anything from flowers to cupcakes to flip-flops to a $500 handbag. Brands hope gifts will at once express their gratitude and encourage you to publicize their products again. So as Style.com reviews the matter of Derek Blasberg allegedly asking Yves Saint Laurent for $2,500 to cover one of their parties, more reports of his coverage in exchange for stuff are emerging! The latest tipsters tell Jezebel that Blasberg picked out more than half a dozen pairs of free shoes from Cole Haan to take home. He then presumably tweeted this to thank them: “Here is something I didn’t think I’d ever say: I am in LOVE with Cole Haan’s shoes for men. Truly. I blame @theselby.”
In addition to gifts, there are press trips! Caribbean Fashion Week might call and ask if you’d like them to fly you down and put you up at a beach resort to cover it. A label might offer you a three-day pass to Coachella. Another might say, “Come to Vienna on our dime and write about the clothes!” Some outlets fire their journalists for taking press trips on the sly, but fashion magazines are traditionally more lax about this kind of thing. According to Jezebel, Blasberg took advantage of these opportunities:
Meanwhile, when he covered the art fair Art Basel Miami, Blasberg allegedly demanded first-class return airfare and a private chauffeur for the junket. Blasberg is rumored to have pulled quite the diva routine — when he wasn’t initially given a private car service, he became upset, and according to several witnesses, threw a fit. None of the other writers on the trip were catered to the way that Blasberg was. According to one tipster, Blasberg made “threats” to one publicist that if “the necessary travel arrangements weren’t made for him at Art Basel, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to commit any coverage for them.”
Soliciting gifts or payment in exchange for coverage is unethical, even if it is commonly accepted on the fashion beat. But if these anonymous tips are to be believed, Blasberg has been uncommonly blunt about his back-scratching. One can only wonder how the alleged gifts and trips may have shaped his journalistic philosophy, which, he told the Times in April, is all about writing nice things about people.