Fashion, and the way we access, view and then make our style choices, has certainly seen a lot of changes over the past decade. The heyday of the glossy fashion magazine as the key to our fashion influences seems to have passed, and although we still look to the red carpet, and to celebrities like singers, Hollywood stars and the supermodels, to see just what they are wearing, we are more than likely to be looking at what ‘normal people’, or those that have gained fame at the drop of a photograph, are wearing. We are living in the age of the online fashion and beauty influencers.
The Online Influencer
In the last ten years we have seen a massive rise in the number of online influencers, whether they be finding fame through a blog, or through a series of glossy photographs that show off a dream life on Instagram. Instagram, in particular, is now seen as a way to make a trend, and fashion brands have seen the power of what can happen if a key influencer picks up on one of their items. Online fashion sites, and magazines like Grazia, now try to predict what the new years trends will be on Instagram, whilst in previous years, the tassle style earrings, the rise of leisure wear worn with heels, and most recently, Zara’s floral midi dress have all reached iconic status thanks to being worn by stylish and influential bloggers and influencers on the Instagram platform.
Whilst the majority of the really big influencers have followers that go into the hundreds of thousands (think The Blonde Salad and Pernille Teisbaek), with the likes of Victoria Beckham and Rihanna going way over the million mark, micro influencers are also seeing their sphere of influence grow. My own Instagram feed has less than 6,000 followers at present, but I am still sent clothes to wear and asked to be a brand ambassador for jewellery and fashion brands on a regular basis. The reason is to do with engagement, I have worn items that have then led to conversations about the brand, about the quality of the products, about what size I wear, and whether the items are true to size. When I wear something, it is a real person, with a normal body wearing it, so those who view think they may wear it too, something that can be an issue when we see the glossy, picture perfect models in magazines wearing the designer look that seems so unattainable for the rest of us mere mortals.
Of course, still photographs are not the only way that influencers are selling us fashion and beauty. The rise of the You Tube beauty vloggers who offer us tutorials in the best products and how to wear them has seen major changes in the way that beauty products are marketed and promoted. The Vloggers are young and approachable, can sometimes have the same problems with their skin as their audience, and are often very skilled in the looks they create. Zoella is the most famous example of a vlogger who became a brand, with tie ins with the likes of Superdrug, and a best selling book all before the age of 30.
Fashion micro influencers can also see big viewing figures for their unboxing videos, which come across as enjoying shopping without having to leave the house (or even get dressed!). They often film hauls for High Street brands and give their opinions on the clothes that you have been considering buying, hence their popularity. Some Vloggers go live, so they can answer any questions you may have about the products they are looking at, once again bringing their accessibility to the fore.
We may still buy the odd copy of Vogue, but for most people these days, the influencers are the ones they turn to when they need ideas for an outfit for a big night out, or our holiday wardrobe, or just whether or not to buy that dress we have been looking at for weeks. Their power is their instant accessibility, the beauty of their flat lays, and their styling that doesn’t actually need a stylist. They will continue to rise and thrive as the internet becomes all consuming.