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Finance & the Fashion Blogger: “Haul Videos”

by Ashley on May 26, 2010

After the response on my first few Finance & the Fashion Blogger posts, I thought I’d try to make it a regular series– talking about my own interest in finances, how I use different tools to manage my money (and save for shoes!), observations I’m seeing in the blogosphere, and more.  I hope you enjoy them as much I’m enjoying writing them– and if you have anything you’d like to ask, please feel free to email me!

The gorgeous Jennine recently tipped me off to an article in the NY Times about the rise and popularity of “haul” vloggers.  I wasn’t aware of the phenomenon before (though as Jennine commented, it’s kind of always existed within fashion blogging to some extent), but then my charming Beau confirmed it– he’d recently heard a radio piece on these videos.

Haul videos are, in short, online videos of women showcasing their recent purchases, where they got it, often discussing how much it costs.

It’s interesting in reading articles about this phenomenon, because ‘haul’ videos aren’t exclusive to fashion shoppers and didn’t even begin with them.  They began with boys & their toys– called “unboxing” videos, it featured geeked & teched out boys unboxing the newest video games & electronics before using them.  The new haul videos aren’t limited to young women shopping either–apparently they’re quite big within the crafting and scrapbooking communities, where crafty gals and guys will showcase their most recent hauls of paper and supplies.

It seems like the press has caught in the past few months to the trend of young women doing it and spending money on fashion & beauty items, though, especially based on the number of articles I’ve found about it within the past 3-4 months.

The phenomenon behind it is really intriguing– many articles dismissed or overlooked important factors (I thought), such as teenage vlogger’s working 2 jobs to support their shopping habits.  (While I wish I could shake them and say, “Learn to save now! Learn it, because in 4 years, you’ll wonder where all of that money went!” I know I was the same way at that age & can’t condemn them.)

Thoughts, Reactions, & Questions

  • My first reaction was that these videos would contribute to excessive buying– but it seems from most reports, that women feel disinclined to spend money, because they’re receiving the same thrill from seeing another’s purchase.
  • Is it unfair for the media to sensationalize these videos because they’re made by young, pretty women, who are spending a lot of money (and perpetuating this idea of women’s shopping habits)? Afterall, if you Google Unboxing Videos, you don’t find as many news sites reporting on the subject.
  • How do you feel watching these videos? I find myself morbidly curious about them– overall I don’t like the products I tend to see, so it doesn’t inspire me to want to go buy things.  On the other hand, I get really curious about the exhibitionist side to it.. how does it feel to create a haul video, to receive the comments back bonding over your purchases.  Do you regularly watch haul videos?

Extra Reads:


Kate @ Undeniable Style October 23, 2010 at 9:22 pm

I just came across this fashion blogger and finance series and found it fascinating. I’ve been blogging for 3 years and lately have found myself more inclined to make purchases because the most popular posts are the ones that are about me. I have been toying around with the concept of vlogging in general, and have to say that I had the same reaction as you…very curious about the exhibitionist side to it.

WendyB June 16, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Jennine at The Coveted did a great one in which she showed her drugstore purchases.
.-= WendyB´s last blog ..Knickers Are the Next New Thing =-.

rollergirl June 5, 2010 at 3:04 pm

WELL! I have to agree with Liz, that girl in the birthday haul video is SOOOO boring! How can anyone sit through the entire ten minutes? And yet… it’s the Lauren Conrad factor isn’t it? To Little Miss Average in Nowheresville, these videos of cookie-cutter pretty girls are probably the height of glamour. They probably aspire to look/be like these girls with their shiny hair and perfectly-blended eye-shadow and ‘gorgeous’ but unthreatening clothes. I guess the fact they are achieving a level of fame and no small amount of freebies and – hello – cold hard cash for their efforts is pretty appealing. And as Lady Julianne puts it, ‘I expect that it’s like any form of blogging, though, you get into hearing about the blogger’s life and enjoy their particular voice, so I can see why people get hooked into watching.’

I am certainly finding it quite compelling. And from a business perspective, it’s a great opportunity for brands to reach consumers via social media which we all know is the thing to do these days. I’m fascinated!

lisa June 4, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Very interesting topic and responses so far from all the commenters. I’m a bit conflicted about the whole haul video phenomenon. As other commenters pointed out, similar “look what I bought” posts have been on fashion blogs for the last few years. However, haul videos seem inappropriately consumeristic in my mind somehow whereas I don’t mind text and photos as much. Maybe it’s just the medium that bothers me.
.-= lisa´s last blog ..Product Review: Skoah Hydradew Mask =-.

Natalie June 3, 2010 at 4:20 am

Until shortly before that NYT article came out, I had never even heard of this whole shopping haul phenomenon. Really I don’t know if I have room to criticize — I agree with Stylish Thought in saying this isn’t much different from fashion blogging. Granted there are lots of posts on fashion blogs that are more witty or thought-provoking than this, but there are plenty of posts (that I enjoy reading) where bloggers just post cute stuff they’ve bought or are wearing.

Also, these shopping haulers seem to be quite young. My cousins are about that age and they and all their friends put so much of their lives online anyway — on YouTube, Facebook, etc. This seems to be an extension of that.

Elena May 31, 2010 at 12:32 pm

This is very, very interesting!

Laura Kim Connell May 27, 2010 at 9:20 am

This girl was featured in a social media seminar I attended. Not my approach to fashion and beauty but it works for her!
.-= Laura Kim Connell´s last blog ..ShopSribali Exotic Escape =-.

Alicia May 26, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Honestly, I went from morbidly curious to nonplussed. Seeing other people buy that I don’t really like or wouldn’t be into is not my idea of fun. I have cat videos to catch up on. =P

I can’t knock them for hauling, though. As you said, I’ve definitely been there (and occasionally, still go there). To each their own, and if people enjoy watching, more power to them.
.-= Alicia´s last blog ..…printastical… =-.

Trishna May 26, 2010 at 9:53 pm

I personally only liek those fashion bloggers who display pretty creative outfits on a regular basis. Dressing creatively and beautifully is a form of art and is very different from a list of things I bought today. Beauty and hair tutorials I understand, but I unfortunately do not see the art in haul vlogging. But that’s just my opinion.
.-= Trishna´s last blog ..Finding a sense of direction =-.

jennine May 26, 2010 at 8:42 pm

this is certainly an interesting turn in the medium… but i dont’ see how it is any different from bloggers showing off their new goods.

however i do think it’s strange how in the beginning of the birthday haul she says three times that if you don’t like her video to turn it off. just sayin’
.-= jennine´s last blog ..Current/Elliot High Waist Skinny Jeans =-.

Lady Julianne May 26, 2010 at 7:45 pm

I’ll admit, haul videos make me uncomfortable because they’re so much about ostentatious consumption. Yes, all fashion blogs are about consumption, but there’s a line in my mind. I like blogs that involve creativity and comment. I don’t like blogs that just show off purchase after purchase. I do agree that it’s getting a bit sensationalised – this is a very small subculture. I guess that make-up tutorials are too mainstream now to be worthy of further comment!

I only heard about clothing haul videos recently, via one of the articles you mentioned. I don’t think I’ll ever watch one – I’ve watched make-up haul videos and was bored. I do like watching make-up reviews by vloggers I trust though. Luana in the comments mentions that some haul videos provide clothing reviews, but that doesn’t appeal to me because it’s very unlikely that I’ll consider buying an item of clothing that I’ve watched or read a review of, let alone actually be able to buy the item. I can say that next time I need a mascara I’ll buy that one I saw a review of, because that mascara will probably be available for at least four years. Whereas a skirt will only be in shops for a few weeks! If it’s even stocked in my local branch of that chain!

I expect that it’s like any form of blogging, though, you get into hearing about the blogger’s life and enjoy their particular voice, so I can see why people get hooked into watching.
.-= Lady Julianne´s last blog ..PSA: Charity Shopping For Summer =-.

Luana May 26, 2010 at 8:39 pm

I guess I should mention that the ones I watch are makeup haul videos, not clothing hauls! I just grouped them all in there. You’re right, I’d see no point in clothing hauls as the items would only be available for purchase within a limited amount of time, not to mention it might not even be available in your country (I live in Spain so anything AF, F21 etc. related is pretty much useless to me!). Of course I might also be slightly biased given my recent makeup addiction out of nowhere…
.-= Luana´s last blog ..Working Backwards to Achieve Your Goals =-.

Michelle May 26, 2010 at 3:23 pm

They’re certainly not my thing, butttt I think I almost prefer someone being totally up front about the fact that they take such pride in consumers as opposed to someone being slightly disingenuous about it, you know? Like, you compared them to Sea of Shoes – personally, I would rather someone being like “I bought this and this and this today”, and being upfront that they’re all about consuming, rather than someone being like “Look, there’s magically 50 pairs of designer shoes on my closet! Aren’t they pretty?”.

…does that make any sense at all?
.-= Michelle´s last blog ..Sandman and American Gods: Problematic Portrayals – Part One =-.

liz May 26, 2010 at 3:29 pm

The video’s annoy me mainly because they are boring. I think the difference between my favorite bloggers and these videos is two things. 1. Bloggers usually create outfits and there is some artistic quality to that, they are styling the clothing, editing the photos. These video’s are of teenage and 20 somehting girls showing off, usually in their bedroom, a bunch of crap they bought. 2. It’s usually crap. I’m not trying to hate on them, but I have browsed a few of these, and they show the most god awful and plain clothing and accessories and its always from forever 21. (* I like forever21 but c’mon, expand your horizons!)

With that said, I think the whole statement of “rich young girls showing off” is ridiculous. These girls are shopping at forever21, in 20 video’s they probably still don’t spend as much as say, sea of shoes does, on one pair of shoes. If they like it, let them be.

Retro Chick May 26, 2010 at 2:18 pm

I’d heard these mentioned recently, but didn’t really know what they were and the name suggested it was probably something I wouldn’t be interested in enough to go and look!

I feel that it’s no different really to when I used to come home with loads of stuff and make my poor Mum sit and look at everything I bought, it’s just there’s a global audience now, and that makes these videos a commodity and part of popular culture.
.-= Retro Chick´s last blog ..Perfect Picnics =-.

Luana May 26, 2010 at 10:28 am

OKAY, I admit it, I’m guilty of watching these! But I don’t think they are all negative and promoting consumption. A lot of times I watch them because it feels similar to how you’d chat to a girlfriend about something you bought that you were excited about. Also, many times these vloggers talk about quality and the result of the product, they offer reviews and price/quality ratios that I find immensely useful especially if I’d been thinking of buying that recently. I also don’t feel they are to ‘show off’, because then the same could be said about popular fashion bloggers that take outfit photos and list where they got everything. Of course I can always think of better ways to spend my own money, and if this is what these vloggers have decided to spend it on and it makes them happy then great! As long as you know where you stand as a viewer I see absolutely no problem with it.
Great post!
.-= Luana´s last blog ..Decisions, decisions! =-.

Fajr | Stylish Thought May 26, 2010 at 10:17 am

I agree that the attention on it casts it in a negative light when it’s really no different than unboxing videos or what fashion bloggers have been doing for the past few years.
.-= Fajr | Stylish Thought´s last blog ..Music Meets Fashion: VV Brown =-.

Franca May 26, 2010 at 10:00 am

I’ve only watched a couple, when there was an article about in on threadbared, and my initial reaction was ‘how weird ‘, but on reflection I used to do ‘charity shop finds’ photo post s a lot and it’s really no different. My main reaction to the videos now is that I find them quite boring. It’s not that I’m jealous or makes me want to shop, just that I don’t actually care, mainly because I’m not into high street shopping much. With thrift shop finds at least there is an element of other people having found hidden treasure. I agree with the first commenter that I would prefer to have more information on why people bought stuff rather than just ‘look! new things!’.

I also agree with you that the sensationalist reaction is unwarranted.
.-= Franca´s last blog ..Outfit 20.5.10: Houndstooth dress and the new bag =-.

Renee May 26, 2010 at 9:55 am

Hey Ashe, what a great topic!

To be honest, I’m not sure what I think about them. I’ve seen some haul vids in the past due to curiosity but it’s really not my cup of tea. I’m sure they mean no harm by the videos but it seems a bit like showing off to me – I’m not sure what the real point is. Have you seen ‘haul’ posts, which are pretty much the same in written form? Some bloggers just like to write posts about what they buy on holiday, everything from makeup to deodorant to tampons… I find it’s a little weird. It’s like, OK, you bought 14 new skirts, what’s your point? Still, to each their own! I guess it’s part of our ‘over-sharing’ culture today, with Facebook, Twitter, Formspring, etc, people can just share everything about their lives online.

DailyDivaDish May 26, 2010 at 9:41 am

The “haul” video does not appeal to me. For some reason, the name itself just really turns me off. I’d much rather see one or two purchases and what made these one or two items special enough to buy.

A few years ago, I suspect my feelings on this subject would have been quite the opposite. Unfortunately, it was that thinking lead to some poor financial choices. This probably explains why I’m not a fan of these videos. But that’s just me. ;)
XO Piper
.-= DailyDivaDish´s last blog ..Welcome to the new DailyDivaDish! =-.

Ashe Mischief May 26, 2010 at 9:24 am

I think the sensationalizing is what bothers me a bit about it, a bit more than the process itself– one of the girls above, Blair, is being homeschooled so that she and make blog videos full time (I think she does hair/make-up tutorials too). To be compared to another teenaged-blogger-gone-homeschooled, Jane from Sea of Shoes…. she has an impressive wardrobe, but has she been on Good Morning America to be filmed while she shops? (Maybe she has and turned it down…) Why is there a difference suddenly, because of the format (youtube videos) and one is explicitly saying, “I went and bought this,” instead of “Aren’t theses new Givenchy shoes beautiful?”

I dare say it’s another form of sexism to sensationalize these girls for their videos, when boys don’t get it from their unboxing videos.

Fajr | Stylish Thought May 26, 2010 at 9:12 am

How is this any different than fashion bloggers taking pictures or video blogging their wardrobes or their outfits? I personally don’t see the appeal in talking about what I’ve bought (which is why I try to refrain from it on my blog)
I think this certainly speaks to our culture of consumption, but I don’t think it’s a huge issue, certainly if these are hard working young women that understand that what you buy(or are bought) shouldn’t define you as a person. The media just likes to sensationalize everything.
.-= Fajr | Stylish Thought´s last blog ..Music Meets Fashion: VV Brown =-.

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