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What did Man Repeller stand for

Leandra Medine's blog that marked an era (and a generation) is about to close

What did Man Repeller stand for  Leandra Medine's blog that marked an era (and a generation) is about to close

In 2010 I was 15 years old, I used to go to a classical-linguistic high school where the Latin homework would regularly kick my ass and I spent the summer holidays in my grandmother's garden reading Elle or Vogue - that at the time was very different from today. The other place where I could immerse myself in the world of fashion without limits was the Internet, on Pinterest, where my mood board was flooded with photos of Alexa Chung at Glastonbury, and on the first blogs that began to populate the blogosphere. The best one was Man Repeller, by Leandra Medine, now Cohen. Ten years after that of Leandra Medine is one of the leading names in the fashion industry, influencer OG, blogger, forever trend-setter with a degree in journalism. In 2010 Man Repeller was a small niche product, but so new, fresh, fun and innovative, that within a few months it began to make waves even on Refinery29, on Instyle, even on The New York Times

The title of the blog contained in itself the whole concept of the site, that aimed at becoming a space where to talk about fashion, trends, but above all about self-confidence, the discovery and enhancement of ourselves, of the search for one's own taste and aesthetics, all for ourselves, regardless of men and their desires, far from the social and stylistic clichés imposed to appear attractive to their eyes. This is why the blog was so revolutionary, not only because it was genuine and sincere, but because it offered a completely new approach, which many women and girls like me had never found before. The blog's name came up during a Medine's trip to Topshop with her friend Rachel Strutgatz - who would later become a writer for the WWD and now for BoF, at the time the editor of the website's first articles - due to Leandra's tendency to choose only clothes that are so weird that repel men. Hence the title of the blog and also the first article, which dealt with those symbolic items of Medine's wardrobe. The blog took off thanks to captivating and unique storytelling, made up of quick and fun reflections, tips on how to tell when an avocado is ripe, on how to dress for a first date - obviously in a repellent way - on which jeans are acceptable for a person who calls themself an adult. It was well-received because nothing like that did ever exist before, especially in a historical moment when Instagram didn't exist yet (I feel so old now). The Man Repelling philosophy represented an innovative vision, a sort of precursor of that new feminist wave that would have soon arrived, in New York and then in the rest of the world, which shunned catchphrases and clichés, to focus instead on personal experiences that became universal.

And then there was her, Leandra. A disruptive personality, ironic and self-ironic, weird, as she defines herself, who often and willingly told of episodes of her personal life, even reporting on her dates with guys. She did not belong to the stereotype of the femme fatale talking about fashion - a stereotype that has returned with great popularity on Instagram -, with those very long and skinny legs, those bags under the eyes and perennially dishevelled hair, we just wanted to be like her. In the dozens of interviews that are still on YouTube, Leandra defines her style as a mix between high and low, between fast fashion and luxury, almost a paradox told by a member of one of the wealthiest Jewish families of New York, you just need to take a look at her outfits to realize that there was nothing democratic about them, even a Rodarte tee with a floral skirt screamed aristocracy, but it was fine. We all wanted to be like her, to have the same confidence and attitude when wearing ten different prints together, to play with exaggerated patterns, to always wear pieces with bright colours, even in the looks that she calls 'casual'. Leandra's words and images had the power to cancel the distance between us and her, transporting us with her to Manhattan, the place where we all wanted to be born. 

Over the years Man Repeller has become a full-fledged publication with an editorial team of 16 people, partnerships and contracts with major fashion brands, becoming an authoritative voice within the international fashion scene. Over the years Leandra has become an influencer herself, becoming the face of Louis Vuitton for a campaign and collaborating for a collection with Mango - here there are again high and low. Gradually she began to write less and less on the blog, for a period leaving it almost entirely, when she was trying to get pregnant (she told this in an interview with Forbes, in which she recalls how many doctors told her that stress was her biggest problem). In June, news broke that Leandra was leaving Man Repeller entirely, after allegations of racism and statements by former employees describing an environment that was not inclusive at all. The website became simply Repeller as if to erase the past linked to Medine, while yesterday the news came that Repeller will be closed down, according to what reports BoF.

There are several reasons that led to this decision, certainly the economic difficulties, but also a certain loss of originality, the difficulty in creating contents that always meet the expectations of a faithful but critic audience, that made Man Repeller disappear in a mess of online magazines and Instagram pages that are fresher and more up to date. Leandra did not succeed in the final leap, the one that brought Chiara Ferragni and her Blonde Salad into the mainstream or to the opening of a successful business like that of Aimee Song of Song of Style, all influencers who were once bloggers who started to become known in the same years as Medine. 

Whatever the reason, it's the end of an era - and I'm not exaggerating. With Man Repeller Leandra Medine was a forerunner. One of the first to know how to write about fashion, to be able to create interesting and fun contents, in fact inventing a job that today has been distorted and abused. Comparing Medine to today's influencers it's clear how the latter do not have an inch of Leandra's depth, content and storytelling skills - her videos shot during lockdown speak for themselves. 

Man Repeller was beyond, and that's why it left its mark, and that's why we're going to miss it.