How to fix the Style Network

Lindsay from Broke & Beautiful wrote a hilarious and insightful post the other day about the Style Network’s weak show lineup, and I completely agree with her. The producers are missing the mark in a major way, and it all stems from targeting the wrong audience and producing shows that aren’t even related to style. Take a look at the current lineup:

  • Four shows about cleaning your house
  • "Supernanny"
  • "My Super Sweet 16"
  • "Too Fat for 15: Fighting Back"
  • "Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?"
  • "Plastic Makes Perfect" (yes, this is a show about plastic surgery)
  • Kimora Lee Simmons’ reality show
  • Former Spice Girl Mel B.’s reality show
  • "Run’s House" (a reality show about a former rapper)

I could go on, but I’ll spare you five sad minutes. How are any of these shows related to style? Your guess is as good as mine. The Style Network is trying to become a combination of Bravo, TLC and HGTV when it should be paving new ground and exploring one of the biggest gaps in the television market — true fashion coverage.

Look at all the brilliant, fashion-forward bloggers out there. What do they write about? Topics like their favorite looks from Fashion Week shows, trend reports, DIY fashion projects, beauty tips, declarations of love for insiders like Anna Della Russo and Lori Goldstein, behind-the-scenes footage at photo shoots, peeks inside the closets of their fashionable friends.

This is your audience, Style Network. We’re all right here, waiting for you.

I’m not an expert on cable television, but from what I’ve seen, we don’t have a channel that even approaches this level of fashion dedication. Practically every sport has its own 24-hour channel, and yet the one network allegedly dedicated to style is airing episodes of “Ruby,” a show about a southern woman’s quest for weight-loss. And she doesn't even dress well.

Lindsay offered some awesome ideas for shows we fashion bloggers would love to see:

  • "Fashion Week coverage, including video footage of the actual shows and interviews with the designers."
  • "Inside The Actor’s Studio-style presentations with designers, stylists, muses, models, bloggers, store owners, buyers."
  • "Emerging designer features, crafting/DIY programming, etc. Exposure for new talent!"
  • "News! Freaking news! WWD has been in business with daily 'newspapers' for how long? You can’t come up with a little 30-minute news program with the latest in fashion, style and beauty? Honestly."

She’s so right! I also had some ideas to add to the list:

  • How about a show like MTV Cribs, except it’s a walk through the closets of the fabulously wealthy, stylish celebrities and fashion insiders? Who wouldn’t love to see Kate Moss’s closet?
  • Or maybe a show in which a charming host goes shopping at amazing boutiques around the world? (I volunteer myself, of course) How fun would it be to see the offerings at tiny shops in Paris that don’t even have website, or a new luxury mall in Japan? Alexa Chung is apparently filming a PBS show about thrifting across America — wouldn’t a style network be the ideal home for this show?
  • Or what about a show that gives you behind-the-scenes looks at things like the factories where handbags are made, or a day in Chanel’s sewing room? We got to see the inner workings at People’s Revolution via Kell On Earth, a popular Bravo show. Why not expand that to even bigger brands?
  • I’d also love to see specialty shows, such as 30 minutes on the latest and greatest shoes on the market, new accessories, outwear, or, hell, even maternity-wear or children’s clothes.
  • And let’s bring back reality shows like Stylista, Joe Zee’s 2008 “competitive styling” version of Project Runway. It was truly ahead of its time and would probably be way more popular now with personal style blogs blowing up the way they are. I’m still pissed I missed it. The winner got a job at Elle, a Manhattan apartment and a $100,000 clothing allowance!

The opportunities are endless, and the Style Network is totally missing the boat by repurposing watered-down ideas that other networks have already mastered. Everyone claims the Internet is the way of the future, and that’s true to a certain extent, but people are still watching TV as much as they always did, so why not deliver to the television what the fashion world is already eating up online?

UPDATE: Apparently FashionTV, a premium channel developed in Paris, does provide quite a bit of runway and trend coverage. But I've never seen it, nor have I met anyone who has, so I can't say whether it's anything like the ideal Style Network I've dreamed up. And the odds of me paying an extra $50/month so I can watch it are slim to none. I still say it's up to the more accessible Style Network to step up its game and give us what we're looking for.

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