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“Dear Simon. We are big admirers of Permanent Style here at Luxit PR and think that several of our brands would be a great fit. Could you let me know what your rates are for articles on the site, and what other options you have for sponsored content?”

I get this kind of email more and more these days. Random inquiries from PR companies are always a nuisance, but they used to ask about coverage and advertising. Now the majority inquire purely about ‘advertorial’ or sponsored articles.

The fashion industry has always been like this. Advertising contracts with the big magazines usually include a guaranteed number of pages of editorial throughout the year. Brands that advertise complain that they don’t get enough ‘support’ when they’re not in one piece or another.

But blogs used to be different. Indeed, many used to proudly carry a badge declaring ‘Ad-free blog’. I’ve always had advertising on Permanent Style, but I feel (and readers have told me they agree) that this is the most transparent way to fund it. There is no advertorial. There are no sponsored links. There are no affiliate programmes.
  

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PRs themselves often find the new world frustrating. “There used to be lots of little blogs run by enthusiasts, who wrote what they thought and loved being involved with the brand,” a PR at a Jermyn Street company was telling me last week.

“Then at some point they get big and decide to monetise it. That’s fine I suppose – but they have no clear policy on anything. It’s not clear if brands are paying for content, what product is provided for free, how advertising works. It’s confusing for me and I’d guess it’s confusing for readers. I just want to sit down with them and ask: are you, or what is, for sale?”

I have a lot of sympathy with such bloggers. (Or indeed Instagrammers – which is generally worse; there are no ads on Instagram). It’s hard when you’re starting out, to turn down money or free things when they are offered. But at some point you have to decide on a business model and communicate that clearly.

“I often get to know these guys quite well – it’s a very personal relationship,” says a PR at a mid-size tailor (I asked a few). “One day they’ll phone me up and say ‘Guess what! I’ve decided to make the leap and quit my job.’ I have to stop myself from sighing. Everything gets more complicated from then on.”

“Things are particularly hard as media and platforms merge together,” she adds. “When every shop has a magazine and every magazine has a shop, it’s hard to know where content is coming from.”

I believe there can be a better model. One that sits between brand-led magazines and ad-free blogs. Where opinions can be open and honest, independent and substantial.
  

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I’ve always been clear that no one can buy content on Permanent Style. We have some great advertisers that fund everything we do – from clothing to photography to travel. The fact they’re advertisers makes no difference to how much I write about them.

(You’re free to disbelieve that of course, but at least you know who the advertisers are. There’s no way to tell that a link is sponsored.)

We have collaborations with brands, which obviously make money. So do the books – though they often, like Permanent Style 2015, involve a good deal of investment and risk.

And finally, we often get discounts on clothing. But as I have said many times, that’s never going to make a difference to what I write about. The blog’s income means I can afford anything I wish to cover, and I have far far too much clothing to accept things just because they’re free.

As many of you know, I also have a regular job as the product manager for a FTSE 250 publisher called Euromoney. Which helps to not worry about where and how fast the blog is growing.

This is a lovely position to be in. But hopefully it has benefits for readers too. It means I can write about all products equally, and from personal experience. It means I don’t have to listen to people saying I should have a Permanent Style clothing line. And it means I can write bad opinions as well as good ones. (I never understand people who think just not writing anything is the same as writing a bad review.)

Thank you.
  

Image: Outside milliner Pauline Brosset in Paris, photograph by Jamie Ferguson @jkf_man

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T

I’m always concerned when journalists become the story. Good to have a clear editorial strategy but when it comes across as smugness and ego it’s not good. Let’s get to great content please!

Matt S

T, Simon runs one of the best clothing blog around, and this article isn’t just about him but about clothing blogging in general. I don’t think it’s fair to criticise him for this article because it’s relevant to the menswear blogging world. I see blogs where the articles are clearly paid for because the clothing looks terrible and only positive things are mentioned. There’s no lack of great content on this blog, and this article is still excellent content. To me, however, this article was unnecessary because Simon has proven the honesty and quality through his work here.

facebook_David Pan.10153500523734296

Respects Mr. Crompton for making your stance and sharing with us publicly about where your stand. I guess one can’t blame PR companies for trying to pay for content, but it’s really important for the writer and editors on the content side to have a clear policy (like you do) and sticking to them. This is why I love reading PS, because you have your own opinion about things.

noblackjeans

One thing that comes to mind when I read your blog is the constructive critisism one can find in your texts. It´s a rare thing these days when a lot just seems to be about praising and liking. In my opinion that is one of the major facts why your blog keeps beeing interesting and urgent.

Adam Jones

I find it a shame that you have to justify yourself sometimes.

Quite frankly if you didn’t accept advertising and the income from it you would not be able to make as many commissions as you do. That would leave us with a blog that has 80% less articles that we all love to read. Also I don’t think you could get much more transparent about it, you publish your advertising rates on your site so anyone can read this.

Some people I suppose are suffering from jealousy. That a normal guy with a regular job can buy £5000 suits. I hope the blog carries on as it is in that respect.

Arnie

Keep up the good work, Simon! I don’t always agree with your views on style and tailoring. But that is also what makes me read Permanent Style. I have the greatest respect for your work and hope to enjoy (and get annoyed) by your blog in many years to come. Merry Christmas to you and your family! Greetings from a sartorial Scandi-hooligan.

Néstor

The thing I like most from your blog is the respectful approach to any maker and the commitment with quality. That is enough for me. Discerning minds should be able to distinguish when an article is honest and when it is mere advertising.

By the way, are the shoes in the picture your faux wingtips from Cleverley? They look amazing in this picture, sleeker than I though they were.

And also another question that comes to my mind now I have to send to resole my first pair of goodyear welted shoes: How long they last you until the first resole if you wear them, let’s say, twice a week?

Best,

Néstor

Nick Inkster

I think it is great that you have created a model which allows you to fund your commissions in such a transparent way.

When you started up there was some very vitriolic stuff written about “Cromps Comps” on a forum which has some very highly educated contributors, both in the widest, and sartorial senses, but this fell away quite some time ago.

Keep,up,the good work.

Dan K

I definitely see Adam’s point in his earlier comment that it’s a shame you have to justify yourself, however I disagree. I think it’s great that you have done so. As we have come to expect from you, this is a totally upfront and honest account of both the approaches you receive and the manner in which you deal with them. Great stuff.

Fingers crossed that the blog continues to go from strength to strength; it certainly deserves to.

Adam Jones

I don’t know if I got my point across entirely the way it was meant. I agree with you this is completely honest.

The other point i (badly) tried to make is that what I have always liked about the blog is that it is credible. I have used shirt makers recommended on here, bought knitwear and scarves. That has now become a form of trust. I don’t really care how much one pays for an item as long as it is featured for the right reasons.

If this blog recommends something you can usually trust it. Not all blogs can say that.

Just like the collaborations, I have never bought one myself but I have seen, handled them and they are truly fantastic.

Ola

Looking fresh to death in that photo Simon, I couldn’t really concentrate on the text as I kept scrolling back up! Is your sac a depeches togo or epsom leather? If it is togo, have you had any issues with it slouching due to the softness of the leather?
Happy holidays by the way.

Ola

Well thats how it is pronounced but it is spelt with ‘s’ at the end, at least on Hermes’ website… except of course if you were referring to my using a small ‘d’ but I’m not particularly anal about such matters when writing on blogs. I’m about to purchase one and although I have handled both togo and the stiffer epsom, I wanted to sound you out as I know you’ve had your’s for a while.

I had a slight hesitation in using the expression fresh to death (wan’t sure how deep your street vocab is – there’s always urban dictionary either way). Easy to fit or not, you look hot! Ciao.

Wes wp

Simon – You never fail to amaze, surprise and delight me as a reader, and as a sartorial enthusiast. I cannot count how many times I’ve been taken aback by your bluntness and candor. It’s not clear what “T’s” problem is. This is your blog. You are the one commissioning the work (getting a bespoke leather jacket, for instance, or an Italian suit of clothes), and so you are the vehicle through which we experience these fittings. You are the story. Your voice is distinct and delicate (while simultaneously being blunt – not an easy feat). I come to this blog to read about your sartorial journey – in your words. It’s a delightfully voyeuristic ride. Salut!

HAK

Does the problem really lie in the fact that in the earlier days of the blog you stated that you could never afford a suit from someone on the Row but within six months you had commissioned 4-5 new suits from the great and the good of the Row? I think this was all around 2009ish? Anyhow, that has evidently created the suspicion that you were asking for freebies in return for a favourable review alla Francis Bown.

Anyhow, I enjoy your blog and like to see what you have coming next. Keep up the good work.

Reader

That’s one way of looking at it: The person whose judgment is to be corrupted has invited the corruption by his or her behaviour – like the girl who got raped because she deserved it.

The arrogance shown by this clothes manufacturer may be conscious or not, in any case, it shows no reflection on the part of the letter writer. No reflection if Permanent Style has either honour or any kind of ideal.

Simon Crompton, Oxonian, is the wrong address for prostitution, and it’s quite right that this problem of disharmony between the cultural sphere and the economic sphere be publicised.

Kristian

Openness is key, isn’t it? As long as the readers are able tell what is sponsored and what isn’t, you’re not completely off the mark. So that you have dedicated your sidebar to ads I have no problem with. They aren’t “in your face” and even function well as a source of inspiration.

Petronio

Bravo Simon !

John

Hi Simon,
I think it seems hard for many PRs in the menswear industry to understand that a community of gentlemen could be rising up – thanks to internet – around the simple quest for – yes – permanent style. And yet it’s quite an understandable concern in a world in which even the simple sense of “occasion”, as Bruce Boyer would put it – has been lost. Last Summer I saw a guy at a wedding party wearing – presumably what he thought to be a smart outfit – a black suit, a white shirt black tie and black derby! So under such conditions there is a need for areas where ideas could be shared without being for sale. And PS is one of them, to my mind. But to be honest, I really do not know any other blog where this happen so much consistently. Mind you, such an endeavour has become a real challenge today!
From that perspective, a piece such as the one on “Drake’s philosophy” or the interview with Bruce Boyer or Alan See are all to be seen as mere contributions to the ongoing conversation within the said community. That is why – I presume – any PS’s readers, let alone yourself, could easily recognize anywhere a fellow or potential fellow, not just because he would happen to be wearing a Cifonelli suit or a Gaziano & Girling pair of oxfords.
Of course taking up such a challenge is also about, willy nilly, turning a huge tide to make this world a better and congenial one!
By the way, Simon, I thought you wouldn’t wear black oxfords without a suit.
John

suffolk

Simon,

I’m a very happy and regular reader. I have one of your books, and have now commissioned two tailors as a result of your writing. I expect to become a customer of another two next year. So for the tailors, the business model is working.

I’m confused by this article though. You justify the blog at some length, but then gloss over the main criticism with just one sentence: “And finally, we often get discounts on clothing.”

Unless you intend to start pricing the clothes you are writing about – and disclosing the actual price you paid, I suspect many people may continue to think they are free and gratis.

facebook_Andreas Gartner.10208154955573715

Thank you always for your great articles!

Wes wp

Simon – what do you mean by “there are precious few things in the world” you’re interested in? Do you mean you are only looking for the best of the best – and being “comped” something by a mid-range atelier wouldn’t appeal to you anyway?

Colonel Sahib

Hi Simon – nice article, it’s worth reminding us how you operate. It boils down to sincerity and integrity: we trust what you say, even if we disagree on the finer points from time to time.

dave

Of course you are for sale. They just have to buy the site!!! Love the site, so please don’t sell.

Anonymous

I have to agree with suffolk. Why not print a small disclaimer under the pictures or the article saying if you paid full price or received a discount (in percent or £)? It would add value to the site. You can’t expect readers to remember everything that has been “covered many times before”.

Anonymous

Usually in the comments section, someone will ask how much something cost, and Simon has always given an answer. This blog has been such a help/education for me. Keep up the good work

Charlie

Two questions about your pictures outfit above.

I see you have a brown case with you, and black shoes. I’m not criticising, simply asking, does case colour not need to match the other leathers in an outfit? Brown with brown/black with black?

Your umbrella, James Smith I’m assuming, do you know the wood? Stripped cherry?

Thanks!
Charlie

Hristo

I stopped reading the Parisian Gentleman after he published some articles on Sartoria Formosa which sounded like a ridiculously exaggerated advertisement.
I am glad Simon, that you hold higher standards on your blog. For sure you get discounts or suits for free once in a while, but you don’t hide it, if you don’t really like the end result of your order. Example was your Kiton suit. I don’t believe that a guy used to bespoke would pay the normal Kiton price for a MTM suit when you can get any great bespoke tailor for less money. So most probable you got a very good discount for the Kiton suit. But you did not started telling us that this was the greatest suit of all time, like some other blogs would. And I think this is a great. Thanks, Simon!

mike

when you say “we” how many people are involved in the site?

Philip

C&M trousers, Caliendo jacket?

Philip

Damn, that’s a nice jacket. Looks like the French do Neapolitan better than the Neapolitans.

RTW Jacket Seeker

What impressed me at once about Simon’s beautiful jacket was its length! I consider that perfect, and forwarded this Permanent Style to my student colleague from Singapore who’s studying in Rome as an example. It seems to me that many Italian and English RTW jackets are too short in length. Have you discussed this anywhere, Simon?

Sam

Simon,
I’d echo what one of the other reader said about publishing prices next to articles. You seem to invariably state the price in the comments section anyway. Price £x with y% press discount would kill two birds with one stone. It will give us dreamers hope that if we live on baked beans for long enough we might manage to commission an A&S jacket and proving that there is not a corrolation between the size of discount and the favourably of the review. I (and I suspect most other regular readers) implicitly trust you reviews, maybe it’s worth trumpeting it a bit more loudly for those who are yet to become regulars?
Sam

Sam

Thanks for the reply. It’s a very good point about upsetting the brands, that would be counter productive.
S

Anonymous

Hi Simon,
I notice that you like to wear your A&S knits under tailoring. However, when I try to do the same I realise that they are normally quite thick and mine grip the shoulders. I am a bit worried about stretching the jacket in a way that it is not meant to. Do you run into a similar problem?
Anon

Rabster

Having worked up to your blog from Real Men Real Style and Alpha, both blogs which I still hugely enjoy but now recognise are partly ‘sponsored’, I think Permanent Style should consider some sort of more clearer ‘disclosure’ and please do always mention the cost / price of things.

Oliver

While I’m not suggesting that you’re not honest in your reviews, I must admit that I have never really considered your reviews to be particularly candid or blunt. Perhaps I miss the subtleties in your reviews, but it seems to me that while praise is often given, there is rarely any significant criticism. I think this is something that you’ve conceded previously in a post on items that weren’t successful (three good, three bad). Since then, I think the J Addler shoe review is the only explicitly negative review I have seen – and I don’t think it came as a great shock to anyone that a £450 bespoke shoe offering from a one-man-band wasn’t very good.

It may be that this is because the names you tend to cover are always at the top-end of the spectrum quality-wise, where pretty much every offering is objectively very good. But then again – and without wanting to impugn your partiality – I do sometimes think that it must be very difficult, personally, to have to write a biting review of a tailor who you are used to seeing and chatting with on friendly terms at industry gatherings. Are there any traditional “big name” tailors on Saville Row that you would tend to avoid (for reasons purely of make or value for money (but not expense))? Similarly, at the £1000-bespoke end of the spectrum, I think you have only really ever said good things about Graham Browne / Choppin & Lodge. It may be that’s because their offerings are the best you can reasonably expect for the money – but the lack of any material criticism at all from what I remember did always seem a little surprising to me. Perhaps this is because that was the best product you had used at that time (and therefore the rush of satisfaction with proper English bespoke obliterated any negative thoughts in your mind). It would certainly be interesting to read a review of this level of bespoke (or, say MTM like Cad and the Dandy) – and its shortcomings – in the context of someone who is used to £4000 bespoke.

Anyway, not a criticism as such, just my tuppence worth – and I certainly echo the views expressed here that the blog is great. While not wanting to sound obsessive, I visit it pretty much every day and have really enjoyed watching it develop and improve. No doubt I’ll be telling people in years to come that I remember reading it back in the days when Simon got his suits made in HK and took all his pictures on a mobile phone!

Have a great Christmas.

O

Anonymous

On a related note, I’ve noticed that you write for the FT from time to time. What’s their view on this? Most newspapers don’t allow their reporters to accept gifts or discounts from sources.

Hristo

Hello Oliver,
I remember there was huge critique on Solito on the The Great Sartorial Debate blog. People were criticizing the low attention to the details and the fast work of Solito, but at the same time his suits are often great fitting (I have used his services myself) and one gets huge amount of hand work for a very good price. Yes finish is really bad compared to other tailors (as if everything is done very very fast), but trust me, I am looking much better in a Solito suit than other people do in much more expensive suits.
At the same time people were praising Camp de Luca suits which were 3 to 4 times more expensive and in some cases had machine padded lapels (everything visible hand made and what is not visible machine stitched).
So what should a blogger do in such situations?
I think it is best to list the facts – with this person you get such fit, such finish, such value for money. And people should decide for them what they want to buy.
For example I am not at all tempted by the tailors in Paris which are praised over the Internet. I am happy with a very good tailor in Milan which offers good fit, good finish and good price in the halfway between Naples and London. I would try Joe Morgan and David Taub in London or Volker Arnulf in Berlin when I am able to afford it, but I am not convinces in Cifonelli or Camps de Luca.
I hope you understand what I mean. It is very difficult to find a balance between critique and praise which would satisfy all. Best is to list hard facts as much as possible and to post a lot of pictures for the house style which is a subjective thing.

twitter_cavessons

Thanks for sharing. The world of PR can get a bit murky, but thankfully the internet can foster more transparency if you so wish. Keep up the great work Mr Crompton!

David Vawter

Let’s hope things never devolve to the level of “fashion” where everything is fabulous! and never seen before!! That’s what advertising is for, and why not. I love the imagery Drake’s is using, to offer just one example.

One small point of information: there is most definitely advertising on Instagram these days.

Winot

Simon – one of the frustrations of commissioning bespoke items is dealing with delays. I decided not to use an (otherwise good) tailor a second time after the first jacket took twice as long as expected. Have you experienced similar frustrations, or do you think one advantage of your position is that you go to the head of the queue?

twitter_NicoStromback

Simon!

I think this setup you have it terrific. I for one enjoy the ads as a way of finding and exploring new brands, regardless if they are my taste or not. Most new brands I have come to use these days come from your recommendations and ads on the site. So these ads combined with what you write about them is the best model I could think off in terms of giving us readers what we need to make informed decisions.

Hats off and congratulations on running a successful and insightful operation!

oh, and merry Christmas!

susan dos santos

Hi Simon
Your blog is awesome. I am female but I’m passionate about men’s suits. Yours is the first email I open in my in box. You have turned my interest into an obsession! (Joke).
Anyway keep up the great work.

James Marwood

Simon,

As you know I’ve been a long time follower of the blog and always Enjoyed it. I’m really glad that you’ve made these points clear. So much menswear blogging is driven by PR perks that it has quite lost it’s value – I only really pay attention now to your blog, Put This On and Die Workwear.

Whilst I can rarely afford the products you talk about I do get a lot of value from the way you discuss them, their qualities and how to get the most from colour and texture.

It’s a good thing that you’ve found a model to keep the site going, get a clear reward for good work and still keep your ethics intact. I imagine that had been a hard row to hoe.

joe cook

You’ve hit a few nails on their heads with that piece. Good journalism will always find an outlet, will always be read and will never need to kow tow to commerce. IKeep up the good work!

Anonymous

Firstly thank you for airing this issue. Credit to you for walking the very fine line between commercial reality and the ability to honestly critique products. It is a testament to your personable, pro-industry, informed approach. I think it a fairly unique position in the industry. One which, I think, is respected – as issue 41 of The Rake clearly demonstrates. Suggestions; as with others, would be a little more transparency on cost in your articles – though I absolutely accept that your fine discernment is not impacted by this. Secondly, accepting your pursuit of quality and the henceforth pleasure in ownership, for the broader readership we seek both education and access. The Row might be the pinnacle but there are many London/UK tailors never mentioned, I believe that we owe it to them (servicing many UK clients) and a more price limited audience to occasionally feature these hard working businesses. An honest report as to benefits/disadvantages would be welcome and not necessarily a hindrance to the featured brand. It may not have to feature a personal commission but identifying the offering would perhaps suffice. Otherwise thank you!

David Craggs

Dear Simon,
Ultimately you will be judged by the independence of your opinions rather than a statement of editorial policy.
That said, in general I think that people sacrifice their independence at their peril because there is really something in the zeitgeist of our time that really values a free spirit. All of the great brands that have been hoovered up by LVMH & Richemont have been harmonised and homogenised out of sight. They are in the process of having every ounce of character ironed out of them and this inevitably leaves the stage free for the genuine independent that has a real eye for style, quality and customer service and if you continue to unbiasly champion their development this will prove endlessly fascinating for your readers and advertisers.
Regards,
David

john C

I’ver always assumed Simon was not on the take; much too ticky boo to even suggest raising an ethical question.. Since PS is the Simon Show, I would expect he bears most responsibility for decision making to accept right column promos. Even so, I don’t view the blubs as a Simon endorsement, nor conversely would I imagine he accepts promo for stuff that fails to meet tangible quality and an aesthetic sensibility. As for so much uniquely bespoke stuff worn or commissioned by SC, full disclosure would seem welcome. De facto endorsement or not, for sure: SC is not going to flog goods that fail to meet his discerning standards.

Johann Perzi

I hope it comtinius this way,
For the coming Festive Season all the best
Johann Perzi

Johann Perzi

last e-mail should have the word CONTINUOUS not …………, sorry

Johann Perzi

Rob

Simon, I just wanted to take the chance to thank you for all the inspiration and education over the past year.

I think people are often surprised by how much a successful blog can generate (not at a quit your job scale, but in enabling you to invest in the passion you write about) and this leads to strange questions about what is lurking behind the scenes. The fact you are making a success out of this endeavour in a principled way is a testament to your passion and professionalism. Of course one of things we cherish as bespoke customers is the relationship with our tailors; knowing the people who will actually make the products is such a different business model to so much of modern consumption, and it makes a big difference. I tend to think of your blog with this transparency as a similar relationship. It feels like we now what you think and why and therefore we value the relationship with you and not just the information.

I hope you take some time off over the holidays and I look forward to the next year of permanent style.

John Edmund

I can only agree with most of the others who have commented; respect for the way you operate the blog and thanks for everything else.

John

Hi Simon,
Sorry to come back to the jacket you are wearing here. As to its length, isn’t it cut a bit longer than the ones you usually commission? Any way, it would have been less smart if cut shorter.
I do also have the impression that this outfit is presumably the highest level of formality one could get with a jacket even though it isn’t darker. I don’t think a navy blazer could have achieve that.
John

John

Indeed!

Parth Phiroze Mehrotra

Hi Simon. I have been a loyal reader for years. And I really do believe that you have editorial integrity. But I still have a suggestion. You mentioned that “discounts make no difference to what I write about. If it’s discounted, great, but if it’s not I’ll buy it anyway”. And also that “The blog’s income means I can afford anything I wish to cover”. I also under stand that “The brands would also never want that [price and discount percentage] published, so I would potentially piss off a lot of them by doing so”. But then why not refuse discounts altogether? The point is not whether your actual review has integrity but whether it is seen to have integrity. And accepting discounts without prominently printing a disclosure is bad form. No respectable newspaper would allow it, and I don’t see why your readers should expect any less from you, the gold standard on men’s style. Just saying “but if you believe me that the discount makes no difference to the review” the disclosure is “not really relevant” doesn’t cut it. Disclosure is the fount of trust.

Anonymous

Simon, an excellent point of view.

Paul

Reassuring clarification in these times of often blurred, sometimes smeared agendas, behind much editorial/advertorial. I personally love the blog and understand that products you like, will necessarily receive positive output from you. Not the same as receiving positive coverage in exchange for payment by a long chalk. Keep it up.