17/01/2016

Things I Love: Techbitch Book Review



















First of all - I never,  ever would have thought of reading this book if I'd spotted it with its US name, The Knockoff, and the cover it has in the US. It looks and sounds like just another chick-lit book, which stops it from standing out from the enormous and rather low-quality sea of books out there, with which it has nothing to do. Hey US, there are worse things in the world than allowing the horror that is the general public reading something with "bitch" in the title - so loosen your rules.

I won't do what every reviewer does and rehash the plot, letting that fill up a good 60% of my review, but the basics of Techbitch is this: Glossy magazine editor Imogen Tate (the magazine is actually called Glossy) returns to work post-cancer break to find her former assistant Eve has now decided to turn the magazine into an app - with herself as top dog, natch - putting an end to Imogen's beautiful editorials and shiny pages, but is Eve also aiming to end Imogen's career to move into the top spot herself?




This book is so right now - it perfectly captures not only the technological revolution that has so thoroughly infiltrated the fashion industry, but it also expertly mirrors the start-up culture, with 20-something "managers" (hands up everyone who's known of someone who was Social Media Manager at, say, 23 or 24) clicking away on their devices at every hour of the day and night, while plotting their own start-up in their nonexistent spare time. Content is everything and "more is always better" seems to be Eve's motto.

Some parts of the plot aren't believable - like many other reviewers, I agree that Imogen's complete lack of tech skills is unrealistic. A high-profile magazine editor who's not on Twitter, or even knows what it is? Unheard of. And the process of Glossy going from the type of high-end magazine that has designers like "Lucia van Arpels" (who is DvF, by the way) on their speed dial to a juvenile online outlet overflowing with cat photos and "what shoe are you" type of tests is editorially unimaginable.

But, on the other hand, I have to say that rarely have I read a book about the fashion industry that's easier to relate to than this. That's because I know what "techbitches" are like - I've worked with and for them. Not so long ago, I was working for a start-up that had a very similar culture. It was all excruciating hours, talk of trends and "what's hot right now" with a complete lack of regard to substance and style, plus a never-ending "buy it now!" mentality, similar to what is projected by Eve throughout the book. I've seen people fired the way Eve fires people, for "not being the right cultural fit" (translation: you can't sit with us) and I've been on the receiving end of work emails at 23.45 on a Sunday night (since starting my charity job, I've been known to send a few myself, but that's because I'm doing something that I consider to be world-changing, which I didn't when my job was peddling designer shoes). I've met the people putting every hour of their day on Instagram and blogging three times a day. I've yet to meet people sleeping in the office, but I hear in NYC it's pretty normal.

Aside from being exceptionally well-written, Techbitch is a fantastic mirror of the fashion e-commerce and start-up industry, with a touch of bitchiness and a very warm and human heroine. Like I told one of the authors on Instagram, I kept my reading slow, to keep it from ending too soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Speak your mind.