In the official definition, an influencer is one that influences. Thank you, Merriam Webster. In 2016, influencer marketing is considered the next big thing. Forbes states that influencer marketing can be loosely defined as a form of marketing that identifies and targets individuals who have influence over potential buyers. Within an industry that’s getting faster and faster, sometimes even confusing to fashionistas themselves, finding a fashion guru with whom you can relate to has become the grail quest. With fashion month upon us, we thought it would be helpful to highlight the various influencer types.
The classics. Actresses, Actors, Models… Need we say more?
These babes are cash cows. Harvard did a case study on The Blonde Salad’s Chiara Ferragni who pulled a cool $9M in 2015. She has 5.5M followers on Instagram and gets paid anywhere from $30-40,000 to attend an event. Another great read is WeWoreWhat’s exposé on how bloggers make their earnings via the photo-sharing social platform.
Who to know: The Blonde Salad, Song of Style, Susie Bubble, Gizele a Go-Go!, Margaret Zhang, okay, this list is infinite… on further thought, check out the Harper’s Bazaar list of Top Instagram Fashion Bloggers in 2016.
Their strength lies in journalism and killing it editorially. Despite all the doomsday- digital warnings, print is not dead and magazines did not die. In fashion, magazines are still influencing and swaying the shopping habits of their readers. Refinery29 has become the ultimate millennial powerhouse connecting over 25 million monthly visitors and 75 million users across all platforms.
While publications are influential at large, the editors are really the bread and butter. Nicole Phelps is the Director at Vogue Runway, and while her social footprint on Twitter and Instagram is more along the lines of us common folks, she is undoubtedly an influence who also happens to get the top number of invites to NYFW. The same goes for Anna Wintour. They may not be instagramming their breakfast, but they are definitely fashion influencers.
A bit more behind the scenes, buyers are the ultimate fashion influencers and the intermediaries to us, the consumers. Shira Suveyke, VP of Global Buying at The Outnet described what makes a great buyer: “In terms of actual technical ability, you have to be balanced between art and science. You have to have a strong sense of numbers and you’ve got to have a good eye. You’ve got to be creative. One in absence of the other makes a lopsided buyer.”
Determining which pieces make it to the department store or e-commerce site, and resonate with a global audience is a very challenging data request. Additionally, as store shipments are six months behind the runway premiere, this requires a killer planning team. Sizing, trends, price point, city preferences, and color are all huge factors when ordering for the mass market. The buying market is changing quickly with designers embracing direct-to-consumer shows. Tommy Hilfiger, Burberry and Tom Ford are all pioneering the new “seasonless” cycle.
Models/ Muses/”It” Girls
A tale as old as time, the designer/muse relationship is extremely prevalent in fashion. The most iconic have been Hubert de Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn, YSL and Betty Catroux, Hedi Slimane and “rocker” chicks including Grimes, Courtney Love, and Kim Gordon. Oliver Rousteing has declared Kim Kardashian as “the perfect muse for Balmain.” Karl Lagerfeld has been through many muses including Claudia Schiffer, Tilda Swinton, Cara Delevingne, Kendell Jenner, but it started with Jacques de Bascher de Beaumarchais, who was a Parisian aristocrat.
Who to watch on the red carpet: Katy Perry & Mylie Cyrus (Jeremy Scott), Julianne Moore (Tom Ford), Michelle Williams (LV), Kristin Dunst (Rodarte), Rihanna (Adam Selman), Kate Hudson (Michael Kors), Kristen Stewart (Karl Lagerfeld), Jennifer Lawrence (Dior)
While the average Joe Schmo might not know what’s happening in the background, fashion aficionados are acutely aware of who is the current creative director or head designer at their favorite brands. Raf Simons and Alber Elbaz both departed from Parisian Fashion Houses, Dior and Lanvin, and the news shook the industry.
Who to know: Olivier Rousteing (Balmain), Jenna Lyons (J.Crew), Karl Lagerfeld (Chanel, Fendi), Hedi Slimane (Saint Laurent), Alexander Wang (formerly at Balenciaga), Ricardo Tisci (Givenchy), Christopher Bailey (Burberry), Kim Jones (Louis Vuitton)
Put simply, a stylist helps translate a designer’s idea and create an image. During fashion week, they can be styling models to match the designers theme or inspiration. What does “technic romantic” look like anyway? “A stylist takes a designer’s vision and makes it practical,” says Stockdale. The clothing worn in print, e-commerce, editorial campaigns and any music videos of the brand is dictated and pulled together by the stylist. It’s a head- to- toe outfit that creates a look, beyond clothing or garments.
Celebrity stylists are the ones responsible for the buzz-worthy red carpet looks. Petra Flannery, who styles in-demand A-listers such as Emma Stone, Zoe Saldana and Claire Danes, explains the celebrity stylist role in the fashion cycle succinctly: “The process used to be that it went on the runway, then straight to sales, then it would be available for editorials. Now, red carpet is in the middle of all of that. Yet one helps the other. If [a piece] on the red carpet gets great recognition, then sales can boost.”
The New Kids on the Block
You would have to be living under a rock not to know Kendall, Kylie, and Gigi at this point. Don’t discount them because of their age, these girls reportedly pull in six figures for a single product endorsement on Instagram. Kendall and Kylie have also launched their own clothing line and apps. Kylie Jenner’s lip kit launch crashed the site and sold out the product immediately. Today, brands equate a high number of followers to how valuable an endorser is. We have a feeling that these girls aren’t going anywhere for a while.