Are Influencers The New Fashion Designers?
Instagram has given us a lot of things: a surplus of avocado, filtered thigh gaps, death-by-Coachella and, of course, the The Fat Jewish, which makes all the agony of social media worth it. But what of the app’s contributions to creativity? They are myriad: witty illustrators like Angelica Hicks; pen and ink artists like CJ Hendry; emoji wunderwits like Yung Jake, whose brief missives to me when we were trying to once set up an erstwhile interview, is possibly the funniest conversation I’ve ever had. And what about Instagram’s specific contribution to the fashion industry?
Many would argue that whilst Instagram is indubitably an aggregator and a platform for young designers – buyers from all major multi-brand stores scour Instagram with as much zeal as they make showroom appointments in Paris – that it doesn’t offer much in the way of actual design. It’s the same level of snottiness that dictates that hemlines must be as raw as social circles must be slick. I’m not saying that dozens of Alexander McQueens exist among the Insta-famous, but then there aren’t many (if any) McQueens in the world right now, full stop.
What is, however, emerging in their esteemed swathes, are designers borne of Instagram; heavy-hitting Instagram or streetstyle stars, beginning their own covetable, instantly (literally putting the ‘Insta’ into ‘instant’) successful labels. These influencers (I hate the word, but it’s a more accurate term than ‘Instagrammers’, because their influence extend beyond the sqaure-by-square) have adeptly achieved something two-fold: identified a gap in the market place. And secondly, harnessed their following from drooling fan to cash-dollar-bills consumer, shelling out shekels for their handiwork. Or, at least, ideas. And aren’t the ideas what you pay for?
Mirror, mirror, on the wall: who’s the greatest of them all? First up, we have Réalisation. Bearing homage to Reformation (a brand which knows well the power of translating a social media following into a consumer base), so well-suited to the lithe limbed, pouty-lipped Insta-squirl, it’s the brainchild of Alexandra Spencer and Teale Talbot, who also founded the sassy Australian brand, Friend of Mine. Specialising in boob-tastic open shirts, tea dresses and backless minis, this is one of the greats for the sun-baked.
Rouje made this suede mini skirt. So brief it cannot legitimately be called a mini skirt, or even a pussy pelmet, but rather a minge fringe. NSFW, as I realised having worn it on a shoot for an entire day. The hotly ancipated fashion label from the supremely sexy French IT girl – and Paris’s answer to Alexa Chung – Jeanne Damas, who turned her phenomenal style into a genuinely impressive and reasonably-priced line. Next on my shopping list are the Alix sandals. Rouje’s collection makes a European break seem like the only kind of break.
Then there are the super-sellers. The Haute Pursuit blogger Vanessa Hong’s THPSHOP whose faux fur coats sell at Avenue32 (proving that these influencer lines are not niche – but extend to the discerning and unaware public who often know nothing of a piece’s provenance). Not to mention the soon-to-come: the luxurious boudoir-style line, Attico, created by Italian street style heavyweights, stylists and consultants Giorgia Tordini and Gilda Ambrosio and hitting MatchesFashion exclusively later this summer; and German Instagrammer Maja Wyh – whose mysterious Instagram feed looks like one big, artfully mussed road trip – and her chunky gold jewellery that she’s been teasing her audience with, for the past few months. It’s very now and very modern – which is the trademark of an influencer fashion line. Because when your image is very ‘now’, why would your label be anything different?
A distilled version of all this is the collaborations. The selling power of these – when a successful brand and successful influencer combines – is not to be sniffed at. Lucy Williams‘ successful collaboration with British jewellery line Missoma has been carried over for a repeat season; Leandra Medine‘s with Atea Oceanie (dropping 24th June – watch out for it in the 19th June issue of The Sunday Times Style) has produced the best double-breasted blazer I’ve seen for the summer. SPOILER ALERT: I have my own collaboration hitting mid-July, but that’s all I will say for now. DISLCAIMER: I am not a fashion designer, but I did do the sketches!
Chiara Ferragni’s wonky-face glitter slippers may not be for everyone – but to dismiss these creative outlets would be missing a trick. If entire careers and relationships can be borne of Instagram, who says successful fashion houses can’t be?
Photos by Eva K. Salvi | Hair by Hershesons
I am wearing a Realisation Par Goldie dress, vintage Louis Vuitton bag, Chanel ribbon as choker and Marc Jacobs Victoria platforms | Re/Done tee, Rouje Elodie skirt, Annelise Michelson earrings and Georgina Boyce gold bangles.comments powered by Disqus