Helen Berkun is one of the veterans of the Fashion Blogging Industry. If you can even call it an Industry. One of the unique things about being a Fashion Blogger and a social influencer is that there is no blueprint, business plan, or script that you can study or replicate and apply it to yourself. At its core it really comes down to being creative first for most and how you are able to utilize your creativity to “influence” others and how they resonate with you. Helen Berkun has been able to all of that and more in her years working in the fashion industry.
She has truly become one of Chicago’s Fashion “IT” Girls as her sense of style and killer shoe game has garnered her a large following. Taking a break from hosting many events the city and more importantly about to deliver a third baby, Helen spoke with us about her passion for fashion and how she has forged her career.
HFL: How did you get started in becoming a fashion blogger?
Helen Berkun: It’s funny because fashion blogging really was a hobby. I’ve been ‘working’ in the fashion industry for almost 20 years now. I started out as a fashion photographer and stylist, then moved on to fashion editor and creative director. I still photograph and style as well so my hands are deeply rooted in all things fashion related!
I’ve been wearing many hats in this industry for a very long time. All throughout I’ve always loved to dress. I think I went into the fashion business just because I couldn’t imagine working corporate and wearing panty hose and suits (back then this was the requirement).
So because of that I’ve always photographed myself in my outfits. Whether it was on a street or a full shoot where I dressed up. I started this back in junior high, we’re talking almost 25 years ago (I’m totally dating myself here), and way before blogging.
My brother is extremely techy and in tune with the digital/techy movement, which I’m totally not. He’s been telling me to start my own blog for years now and I was lazy or didn’t know how. Fast-forward to the birth of my second child about four years ago, I decided to bite the bullet and start the blog. I first started HEL DEL CHIC with my assistant and friend at that time. After a few years she moved on to work for Dana Rebecca and didn’t have time or interest in blogging anymore and I needed a break because travel for styling and photography and juggling two kids and a home life was crazy. At that point I was getting emails from fans who missed the blog. I realized there was a market for it and my hobby wasn’t just a hobby anymore. In 2014 I revamped www.HELENBERKUN.com and since then it just blew up. I’ve done collaborations with Teen Vogue, Guess, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Seraphine, Luminess Air, SKII, Babor, Wala Swim and so many other amazing brands.
HFL: Who are the fashion icons that inspire you?
Helen Berkun: Honestly there are so many. I love Gwen Stefani, Miroslava Duma, Anna Dello Russo, Edie Sedgwick, Debbie Harry, Jane Birkin, and Brigitte Bardot.
HFL: You have been a fashion blogger now for over 10 years. In your opinion what is the impact fashion bloggers and influencers have had on the Fashion industry?
Helen Berkun: I’ve actually been a fashion blogger for only about five years but have been in the industry for almost 20.
Fashion Bloggers and Influencers have made such a drastic change in the industry. Fashion is so much more accessible now to the general public thanks to influencers and social media. It used to be that fashion shows were only for editors and buyers and to get the scoop you had to be in the industry. Then you would get your fix via editorials in fashion magazines. The industry has drastically shifted. People are in the know via bloggers and influencers. I think the industry has even reversed, where designers are now getting inspiration from street style and bloggers rather then vice versa. It’s quite an incredible shift that really blew up the last 7 to 5 years I would say. Now brands gift bloggers items, knowing that these bloggers will style the look, photograph it and expose it to their mass markets. You will scroll their feed, like what you see and buy or simply move on. Most bloggers use their unique hyper link provided by fashion houses, therefore they can directly track as to what the mass market wants and loves. It’s quite incredible and genius really!
HFL: Your focus has primarily been as an editorial fashion photographer. How has your skill behind the lens helped you in front of the lens?
Helen Berkun: Oh in so many ways. I understand and know light. Therefore I always pick clothes based on that concept. How will certain something look in particular lighting?! How will it photograph?! It’s also made me very particular about what I put out there in the social media world. My blog and instagram, heck even my facebook is finely curated. I don’t like to put just junk images out there. Everything must have a voice, make a point and be photographed beautifully. I’m also very particular about locations when I photograph my style looks, or even my flat lays. The photographer and perfectionist in me is always there.
I’m also extremely comfortable in front of the lens. I can move, contort my body, jump, smile, and really act when the lens is on me. Living on photo and film sets all these years taught me so many invaluable tricks!
HFL: What is your personal style aesthetic?
Helen Berkun: Rocker glam. I like to be feminine and glamorous with a rocker boyish edge.
HFL: What is currently your favorite piece of clothing in your closet?
Helen Berkun: I’m currently 9 months pregnant with my third child so I have to say anything black and anything with stretch. Now don’t picture me in a black leotard! I do love some stretchy leather leggings and a cool black tee or a turtleneck with a black leather jacket on top.
HFL: Describe the Chicago Fashion Scene and what makes it unique?
Helen Berkun: Chicago is eclectic with that Midwestern charm. Everyone here is so sweet and kind. It’s no hustle and bustle of NYC where no one gives a damn. I’ll always love that about this city. People actually genuinely care about you and what you’re doing! The Fashion Scene here is also not particularly large and you know pretty much everyone. We’re like magical gold fish in a clear pond!
HFL: Finish this sentence…. Style is?
Helen Berkun: Style is NOT what you wear, it’s creating the mood of your life.
We would like to congratulate Helen on the birth of her third child, Thalia Sky! If you want to learn more about Helen you can do so by visiting her website www.helenberkun.com and following her on Instagram, Twiitter, and Facebook.
Written by Evan Marshall @Its_what_ev