The other day, I was reminded that the BBC are running the second season of American Crime Story which focuses on the untimely demise of fashion legend Gianni Versace. That got me thinking. Versace not only had an eye for fashion, but a keen eye for business. He took his risky fashion sense and combined it with the idea of the ‘celebrity’; to concoct a potent potion. What he did with his brand, is what today’s brands are doing with social media influencers.
Naturally, people gravitate towards celebrities; wanting to know what they’re doing, where they’re going and in this case, who they’re wearing. Versace realised the power and relevance of the celebrity and harnessed it to propel his brand. He ensured that the hottest celebrities were at his shows — often wearing his garments — and in turn, the models from his catwalk shows blossomed into bona fide celebrities themselves; solidifying the Versace name in the fashion hall of fame.
Influencers and bloggers are the new ‘must-have’ celebs
Fast forward 20 years and you can begin to see a similar trend – or concept, emerge with the rise of social media influencers. It appears that influencers and bloggers are the new ‘must-have’ celebs. With their thousands of followers, fashion brands are realising their lucrative potential in helping to advertise.
Young consumers are obsessed with fast fashion and fads; rather than investing in longevity and quality. This is due to their incessant need to post on social media – refusing to get caught wearing the same thing twice. Their continual need to wear new outfits has changed marketing habits, and is that influencing designers to change their approach to addressing market demands?
Social media collaborations
They are numerous ways for a social media influencer to collaborate with a brand. Either products discussed in a blog or mentioned on a video. Or the influencers themselves featuring in videos and attending fashion shows in the brand’s threads. However, fashion editors don’t seem to appreciate influencers easing their way into the fashion scene.
The truth is, fashion OG’s and these millennial newcomers are butting heads. A 2016 article published on Vogue.com, made it apparent that editors aren’t taking kindly to bloggers and social media influencers who are occupying seats in the front row of fashion shows. These influencers are constantly changing into borrowed clothes, and being paid to attend. This raises the question: Are social media influencers comprising the integrity of fashion to make a quick buck and accommodate digitally obsessed consumers?
All you really need is a large online following and the world is your oyster. Similarly to how Gianni Versace tapped into the secret formula of the celebrity; turning women on his catwalks into supermodels. Models today are no longer just models. They are social media influencers and come with an army of loyal followers. That explains why the ‘supermodels’ of today like Kendall Jenner, Gigi and Bella Hadid and Hailey Baldwin are featured on countless campaigns and catwalks.
Are social media influencers comprising the integrity of fashion to make a quick buck and accommodate digitally obsessed consumers?
Fashion brands adapting
With such shifts in the fashion and retail market — presumably provoked by online access and social media — major brands like Tommy Hilfiger, of which Gigi Hadid is the face, are starting to adapt and test out newer and unconventional business models. These business models may even begin to bypass the official fashion week calendar, in order to keep up with their consumers.
The ‘See-Now-Buy Now’ model, essentially allows brands to give their consumers immediate access to new seasons, rather than waiting for months to secure the current item of their dreams; like traditional high fashion has traditionally permitted.
In 2017, the Tommy Hilfiger and Gigi Hadid collaboration was available for purchase immediately after the collection showed; available for purchase in stores like Selfridges within two days. TeenVogue.com reported that the second season collaboration was available for purchase online before the show. The two collections almost sold out.
While Fashion Week continues to hold allure to some, designers like Proenza Schouler, Tom Browne and Altuzarra are opting out of the official New York Fashion Week schedule and are also moving towards more unconventional releases. Opening Ceremony dropped Fashion Week all together and opted for a presentation at the New York City Ballet in 2017 instead. Whilst for AW18 Monse also ditched their traditional runway show in favour of a party and short film featuring their new collection narrated by Nicki Minaj.
Increasingly, designers looking for that industry buzz — which helps to get them talked about online — are taking on a fresh perspective regarding Fashion Week and their consumers. Fashion Week shows are now full of social media influencers, and brands are paying big bucks to have them there.
Social media influencers and fashion
Fashion editors may not welcome influencers with open arms, but its safe to say that they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. The relevance of the once all-important Fashion Week certainly appears to be minimised. Even without influencers, designers can directly interact with their consumers through social media. And, with the right formula or face to represent your product, designers can build a brand and customer base on their own terms. Upstart brands such as Supreme, have even thrived from creating new business models to gain attention and online success, so why can’t others? So, although influencers are infiltrating our fashion shows, I’m not sure social media and influencers truly threaten the structure of the fashion industry…
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