In the changing platforms of fashion who we look to for guidance and inspiration has changed along with trending habits. Our Editor discusses this change to assess whether social media influencers have overtaken models and celebrities as our go-to gurus of the industry.
History of Fashion Influencers
It begin with Vogue and high society. Upper class waifs were deemed the only ones worthy of gracing an editorials pages for a long time, before fashion standards and practises began to change. Twiggy became the model of the working class girl, showing opportunity for change and a want for something new.
Next came the celebrity era, with actresses and musicians become flavour of each month, making front cover models take a temporary back seat. This continued throughout the nineties into present day, trawling through the regions and definitions of celebrity to venture through A-List right down to reality stars, notably exampled in the Vogue Kim and Kanye cover which divided readers opinions. The ultimately lead to bloggers taken centre-stage, see Zoella on the cover of Cosmopolitan and Tanya Burr on Glamour for reference.
Where Blog meets Magazine
Never before have media consumers had so much variety of content to choose from. Whereas purchased magazines were the bibles of fashion’s past, users can now get style inspiration, motivational features and inspiring interviews at the tips of their fingertips without spending a penny.
Bloggers take conventions of the classic magazine format, from style guides to shopping wishlists. Even part of the marketing ploys resemble that of magazines, with the inclusion of media packs and some welcoming press releases.
With so many bloggers offering the type of content we are used to paying for, we become conditioned to expect this content for free and shy away from paid for outlets unless we are truly invested in that brand. Magazines everywhere will note the decline in print circulation, with many of our favourite content hubs going out of business as a result. This poses questions for magazines of how to adapt and where to re-position themselves in the future.
What users engage with in bloggers is a level of authenticity. Videos handheld and shaky, low value production photoshoots and local recommendations outside of London. It began as a platform for people you see as your friends making honest recommendations from personal experiences. Naturally this too has changed over time, with expectations weighting on bloggers to facilitate perfect flatlay instagram shots and SLR quality photoshoots. The stakes upped and so did the competition.
In this new wave of blogging it seemed every man and his dog suddenly had a blog. This disheartened some longstanding bloggers, making it harder to be noticed in a sea of identikit layouts and post templates. With the surge in interest in blogging, this also opened brand’s eyes to collaborative opportunities, giving established blogs the chance to monetise their efforts and bag a few freebies in the process.
The influx in affiliate programs, collaborations and sponsorships posed an interesting dilemma for bloggers; do they sell out and advertise anything that gets chucked their way for cash or do they stay true to brand and turn down the chance to make money? This is debatable amongst different bloggers as to who has gone down which path, but has begun to create a landscape of distrust and conflict within the industry, with many smaller bloggers unhappy about the unfairness and lack of transparency amongst this new blogging agenda.
Measuring Genuine Engagement
The methods used to get ahead of the game have also very recently caused uproar within the blogging community, with the past month’s #instafraud trend of bloggers outing other influencers who buy their social media following and use bots to mass follow/unfollow in a bid to boost their fanbases. In an unregulated market it is very confusing for both brands and bloggers to be clear on costs of collaborations, the value of genuine engagement of a bloggers following and what can be asked of a blogger. This is something which crucially needs addressing in both industries to level the playing field and educate all on the true benefits of opportunity.
Despite disparities and false-made influencers, there is still space in the market of fashion for bloggers. On the whole, brands are moving away from traditional methods and embracing the digital benefit of bloggers both through websites and social media platforms. Many of us are guilty every day of seeing something on instagram or twitter and bookmarking it for payday because we’ve seen it styled on our favourite bloggers.
The brilliant side of this is the fact that bloggers allow anyone to be put on that pedestal of influence. Whereas the fashion indutsyr was synonymous with tall and thin models, now girls of all heights and sizes are shaping our views on fashion. It could be said seeing clothing on other shapes and sizes gives us more confidence to buy certain items as we begin to visualise the fit on ourselves.
However played out, this broadening of persuasion in the fashion industry can only be positive. Women and men are being empowered to set standards for themselves and not simply look to the elite for ideas.
At STYLE etc we love to bring you news of the latest on Manchester and local bloggers. Read our full Manchester Bloggers hub.