top of page
  • Saumya Sonkar

FASHION AND INFLUENCER CULTURE: THE POWER AND PITFALLS OF ONLINE FASHION INFLUENCERS

Author: Saumya Sonkar,

Faculty of Law, University of Allahabad

FASHION AND INFLUENCER CULTURE: THE POWER AND PITFALLS OF ONLINE FASHION INFLUENCERS

Introduction

Isn’t fashion in the 20th century a complex and dynamic phenomenon? Indeed it is because in true sense, it is not confined to dressing up in trendy and exotic outfits, but also about expressing one's personality, comfort and authenticity. Fashion has taken in awe the fashion industry along with various domains of life, such as law and management. The rise of fashion influencers is among the key drivers of fashion in the digital age. Now, who are fashion influencers? They are the people who create and share content on fashion, products and lifestyle tips on social media platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and TikTok. Although they possess a huge popularity, the role and impact of fashion influencers have underwent a significant change, or even decline. In this particular article, the strengths and weaknesses of fashion influencers are dealt with in brief.

Fashion and Influencer Culture: Co-related or independent?

According to the Forbes magazine, Fashion influencers are the new celebrity endorsements. They are the personalities who generate and spread fashion content on social media platforms, such as Instagram, YouTube, or even vlogs, nowadays. They have a huge number of fan base who blindly rely on them and fashion influencers sway the fan base via collaborating with the brands and sponsoring their products.[i] They are considered the epitome of fashion world and are responsible for affecting the purchase decisions of others. The advent of social media platforms and online culture has made it possible and even accessible for anyone to become a Fashion Influencer. What it takes is just that the consistency and the kind of content that general public finds it relatable and useful. Nevertheless, this calls into question the credibility and reliability of such voices. Were these influencers ever credible in the first instance? As was previously noted, profuse numbers of influencers promote brands for financial means instead of a genuine endorsement.[ii]

History of Fashion Culture and Influencers

The rapid growth in the strength of the fashion influencers owes its origin to the early 2000s when social media platforms such as blogs, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest had initially emerged. A new trend emerged when Fashion enthusiasts began sharing their styling tips, outfit of the day (OOTD) and reviews with online audiences, thus forming a new form of digital era. The growing menace of brief videos and pictures on social media caused a reduction in the attention span of the public who are in hunt for something new and crazy content at every instant.

Eventually, Fashion influencers discovered methods to monetize their online presence, mainly via brand partnerships or franchise. They lend and recommend quite a good range of goods and services to their followers, thereby sky-rocketing the recognition and sales. The Covid pandemic

compelled people to stay indoors and rely on social media for amusement and inspiration which further sparked the online fashion market. Influencers in the fashion industry calibrated to the circumstances by interacting with their followers and producing content from their own studios or even homes.

Power of Online Fashion Influencers 

1)   Impact on Gen Z

No wonder how quickly the Internet took place as an integral part of our lives, especially for the younger generation aka Gen-Z. Gen Z is stuck with their smartphones, social media platforms and online communities without paying a heed to the outside world and reality prevalent so far. They are in touch with the content creators who have a large following and influence on their audiences. They hail from the fields of entertainment, business, sports or journalism. Sometimes their inherent ability and many a times, acquired abilities to shape the opinions, preferences and demeanors of Gen Z through their posts, videos and stories grabs them more support and likeability to them. Some may argue that these influencers have legitimate authority and respect in their domains, while others may question their credibility and motives.

2)   Kings and Queens of the Virtual World

They have become the rulers of the digital age with their skills of persuasion. But they are not immune to criticism. Sometimes they face backlash for the amazing content that they share. However, they don't let that bother them because the haters are always outnumbered by the fans and admirers that they have.

Pitfalls of Online Fashion Influencers 

1)   Credibility or incredibility? 

Since a hefty amount of influencers can be seen on the internet, there is a hustle among the influencers to make their channel or page the most trending or visited. In this race, they start posting a lot of content which may or may not be reliable. They collaborate with the brands for the sake of money and in this way, the credibility and authenticity of the products are left in question. Co-founder Alex Payne, who’s also a Sky Sports host, said more people than ever are trying to get into the influence boom and the industry finds itself at a crossroads. Viewers are now craving authenticity and expecting more from the creators they follow.[iii]

2)   Fast-Fashion

Fast Fashion and Slow Fashion are two different approaches to clothing consumption. Fast Fashion involves buying a lot of clothes without caring much about their quality or durability. Slow Fashion, on the other hand, is a more mindful way of choosing clothes that are high-quality and long-lasting. Fast Fashion is often associated with environmental and social problems, such as pollution, waste, and exploitation of workers.[iv] Slow Fashion is seen as a more sustainable and ethical alternative that respects the environment and the people involved in the production process.

An exemplary Fashion Influencer Alix Earle

Alix Earle is a rising star in the micro-authentic fashion niche and a young influencer of twenty-two years old who grabbed more than a million fans in just a single month. A well-known and prominent firm named Ubiquitous took notice of her content quality and style. Her ‘Get ready with me’ aka GRWN videos and genuine demeanour have made her popular. With just a TikTok video, she has acquired a product’s search traffic from zero to one hundred. Since she is a genuine person in her videos and shares her frequent battles with acne, dark circles, and other issues, audience catch her highly reliable.[v]

Conclusion

Millions of people's lives have been transformed and groomed up by the internet, and many of them now find it impossible to picture life without it. Similarly, Influencers are among those who have turned producing and disseminating content across numerous channels into a career. Some even have quit their employment to follow this pathway since it can prove to be financially more rewarding professionally and personally gaining popularity. In a nutshell, it is best ought for the Influencers to be genuine and ambitious, particularly when it comes to sustainable fashion. Fast fashion has undoubtedly played a significant role in societal and environmental issues like inequality, exploitation, waste, and pollution. Taking this opportunity, they can raise their voices and be a didactic personality for their fan-base regarding the effects of fast fashion and influence them to ponder thrice or even more while making choices and being an extravagant. Influencers are not devils, however, they play an incessant role in reducing the quick fashion’s detrimental effects on the society as a whole.

References

[i] What is the role of influencers in the Fashion Industry? (September 27, 2023), retrived from https://www.myhubble.money/blog/what-is-the-role-of-influencers-in-the-fashion-industry.

[ii] Pang Lili, Imperfect Idealist, (2020) May 27, retrived from https://imperfectidealist.com/the-problem-with-fashion-influencers/.

[iii] Halliday, S. (2023, January 13). Analysis: how influencer culture is embracing authenticy. Fashion network. Retrieved May 19, 2023, from https://ww.fashionnetwork.com/news/Analysis-how-influencer-culture-is-embracing-authenticy,1475613.html 

[iv] Hayes Adam, Fast Fashion Expalined and how it impacts retail manufacturing, (2023) September 27, retived from https://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/fast-fashion.asp .

[v] Neve Fear-Smith, Digital Voices, (2023) October 12, The Alix Earle effect: How the Gen Z influencer took TikTok by storm retrived from  https://www.digitalvoices.com/blog/the-alix-earle-effect-how-the-gen-z-influencer-took-tiktok-by-storm 


Comments


bottom of page