Fashion Influencers: the good, the bad and the never ugly

86% of marketers have spent on ‘Influencer Marketing’ in the last twelve months according to the Digital Marketing Institute. Influencers are big business, but are they using their power of influence for good? In this article, Praba Ellawalla, a Fashion Media & Marketing student at Mode D’Art university in Paris, explores her thoughts.

What is a fashion influencer?

A few years ago, if you’d asked me about “Fashion Influencers” I would have given you a sarcastic smile and a lecture about being naïve and not respecting the English language. Today, however, I can give you a long list of fashion influencers and plenty of information about what they do.

The term “influencer” refers to a person who is powerful enough to affect purchases and the decisions of others because of their knowledge, authority, position or the relationship with their audience/fanbase. If you take a look at who you’re following on Instagram you will quickly realize you’re following them for their amazing outfits, collaborations or exquisite lifestyle, which sometimes you tend to imitate.

Influencers come in many forms such as models, bloggers and trainers, showing off their daily routine, the clothes they wear and the brands they like. They start off with a small number of fans but before long can be considered the new “It” crowd with huge influential power of social media.

What makes a successful fashion Influencer?

Chiara Ferragni, known as the world’s first fashion influencer, made her debut into the public through her blog “The Blonde Salad” but it was Instagram where her fame really took off, reaching 16million followers in 2019. Chiara posts at least 20 Instagram stories per day which include her outfit of the day, her family, her business and her dedication to luxury brands.

Another world-famous influencer is Huda Kattan. Like Chiara, Huda also started off with a personal blog and later went on to reach 36.8million followers on Instagram. She is an expert in beauty and demonstrates this perfectly on her social media. She even went on to found her own makeup line, Hudda Beauty, and provides free make up tutorials for her fans. #GirlPower

So how do these people become famous? It’s things like their good sense of humour, different points of view, powers of persuasion and their knowledge on a particular subject that makes them popular with fans.

It is a well-known fact that “consistency” plays a major role in being successful and keeping a good reputation among the fans. Another imporant trait is relatability; when an audience can relate to what an influencer is saying, it creates a connection between them.

Influencer Marketing is on the rise

What happens when these influencers get famous? They get paid. Most of these influencers represent a high end brand; they are either a huge fan of the brand from the beginning or they were hired by a specific brand because of the amount of influence they have.

Before hiring an influencer, brands make sure that their fan base is large and influential. They either create a collaboration or a sponsored partnership whereby the influencer posts about the brand frequently as they are using the brand in their daily routines.

For an example, Kim Kardashian is very well known to sponsor different types of brands on her Instagram page and in her stories. She shows how she uses it and why she likes it, and at the end she gives a promotion or a discount code. Supermodels like Kendell Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid each gain over $300,000 per Instagram post for a brand promotion. 

The good, the bad and the never ugly

It is very important for people to identify the true goal of these influencers. There are influencers who misguide people and it is not 10 or 20 people but millions. Some influencers only do it for money and fame and being a fan, we can be blinded by what they say or do. We believe that they could do nothing wrong because you think that they are as truthful as you are. But the sad truth is, they can be deceitful

There is something wrong in a system which allows influencers to collaborate with companies and take advantage of their fans. A person’s ethics and actions do matter and can have a big impact on people.

It’s good to know there are a few influencers who want to do the right thing. Famous influencers like, Jessica Olie, Jera Foster, Kelsey Lindell talk about mental health, and make videos or posts to overcome such hard obstacles. They use their field of speciality to convey these messages to their followers and there are many fans who got help because of them.

One of the very famous tattoo artists, Kat Von D, developed an eco-friendly, vegan, cruelty free makeup brand which she then extended into a shoe line. She believes in producing products which can be less harmful to other living beings and she shows the consumers what goes in her products and what does not. Kat Von D also has a charity to which she gives a percentage from her Makeup line.

These few examples show there are influencers who want to do good and give back to society. Conversely, there are also those who want to earn money by posting whatever is beneficial for them. 

No matter how much we talk about the good and the bad, at the end of the day, we should be wise enough to see through all of these fancy filters of lies. And I end my piece with a quote that might come in handy for you in the future:

“Not everyone can be trusted. I think we all have to be very selective about the people we trust.”

Shelley Long

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