Fashion bloggers and influencers are taking over the world
With brands paying bloggers up to £12,000 to post a single Instagram image and internet fashionistas arguably more powerful than their print rivals, a huge shift in fashion’s tectonic plates is underway, discovers Fiona Hendrie
G one are the days of supermodels, celebrities and high-end fashion magazines dictating what’s hot and what’s not in the fashion world. In their place has emerged a new breed of fashion e-cons; the fashion bloggers. From their humble beginnings uploading simple posts to their own little corners of the internet, these digital style gurus are taking the fashion industry by storm and have brands snapping at their designerclad heels, keen to get a slice of their new found fame.
Ten years ago the term ‘fashion blogger’ referred to someone who was just that; an individual with an interest in fashion, who took time to post their outfits online to a small following of family and friends. But as their audiences have grown, often into the millions, today’s ‘bloggers’ manage multiple social media pages as well as their blog and occasionally, their own product lines. With regular content uploaded across their Instagram, Twitter and increasingly YouTube, many now refer to themselves as ‘social media influencers’ rather than the, perhaps soon to be redundant, title of ‘blogger’.
Although the financial success of this new breed of fashion guru varies wildly, for those at the top blogging is usually a fulltime occupation. Attending London Fashion Week, partying at designer launches, collaborating on fashion and beauty ranges and jetting off on VIP press trips all the while creating posts detailing their adventures is all in a day’s work for this new breed of celebrity, with the promise of course, of a payday at the end from the brands they feature.
As influencers have built up their loyal and devoted audiences, the quality of the content they create has also improved and now magazine-quality photos fill their Instagram pages, quick-witted copy populates their Twitter accounts and professionally produced videos litter their YouTube channels. Understandably, along with this increase in quality comes a jump in price for those wanting to ride on the coattails of their success. Charging anywhere from £50 to £12,000 for a single Instagram post and from hundreds to thousands of pounds for a blog post or YouTube video, social media influencers, and the brands who employ them, are very aware of what they are worth.
The rise of the fashion influencers shows no sign of stopping as, according to Fashion Beauty Monitor, 66% of luxury brands expect their influencer marketing budgets to increase over the coming year whilst reporting that, so far, the money they have spent has proven effective for 73% of brands with the impact these online influencers are having on sales traceable through website analytics.
The increase in influencer-brand collaborations is linked to the changing consumer attitude and scepticism towards traditional advertising. A report by MuseFind recently suggested that 92% of consumers trust the opinion of an influencer more than an advertisement or traditional celebrity endorsement. Let's face it, the average consumer is far more likely to relate to an averaged sized, (relatively) down-to-earth blogger than the airbrushed, size-zero, multi-million pound world of celebrity previously relied on to push luxury fashion.
However, not everyone is so enamoured by the rise of the social media fashionista. Most vocal are those who used to be considered the fashion elite.
Sally Singer, Vogue’s creative digital director said following a visit to Milan Fashion Week: ‘Note to bloggers who change head-to-toe, paid-to-wear outfits every hour – please stop. Find another business. You are heralding the death of style.’ Echoing her sentiment Alessandra Codinha, Vogue.com fashion news editor described the ‘whole practice of paid appearances and borrowed outfits’ as ‘gross’.
Despite this high-fashion put-down, social media fashionistas are proving unstoppable and specialised agencies to facilitate the relationships between influencers and brands are also on the rise.
Glasgow’s Colours modelling agency is one such business already paving the way for this new wave of paid collaborations having recently launched a service representing top Scottish social media influencers, the first agency in Scotland to do so. Agency founder Alison Bruce explained that the launch is a reaction to the demand from brands to work with these influencers and is an exciting prospect, particularly for a Scottish-based agency.
‘Our agency is based in Scotland but when it comes to social media, it doesn’t matter where you are based, geography doesn’t count and we're excited by the change.’
John Robertson, whose blog Everyday Man is based in Glasgow, admits there are drawbacks to not being in London where so much of the UK’s fashion industry is based, but says the perks of being based in Scotland outweigh the negatives. ‘It’s a point of difference,’ he says. ‘I have access to loads of cool locations that those in London don’t. It helps me to stand out.’
Ten years ago, the notion that the sunglasswearing, cashmere-swaddled fashion editors would be at risk of being dethroned as the Queens of Cool by a band of bedroom bloggers was unheard of.
For many, this change is refreshing, but with new digital platforms being developed all the time, who know who’s waiting in the wings when it comes to the next generation of style icons.