COVID: Fashion’s Elite Are Taking Cues From Digital Influencers

Fashion media might be using influencer marketing tactics to create content during the novel Coronavirus, but the tactic might be vital in ensuring a positive rebound for the fashion industry.

Just a few years ago, the idea of elite fashion houses or labels taking marketing cues from digital influencers was scoffed at. Why should Olivier Rousteing take marketing advice from bloggers, let alone, invite her to a show? After all, seats at fashion shows are incredibly valuable, and how dare anyone who begins an Instagram story with “Ok… so…” think he or she is worth the investment? Well, in the era of the novel Coronavirus, all bets are off, and fashion houses are being forced to revert to influencer-driven marketing tactics to create content, and inevitably, sell products.

Last week, model GiGi Hadid posted on her Instagram, “Fashion is finding it’s new normal … so when @vogueitalia sends you a @chanelofficial look, you create a fantasy scene of what we actually do in sweats ?❤️ still featuring Goldfish tho !! ? shot @ home on the farm by my quarantine sis @leahmccarthy (v proud of your photography career debut…. major ???) for Vogue Italia’s April 2020 Issue.”

For years now, brands and designers have been sending bloggers or digital influencers clothes, accessories, products, or various memberships to services for undisclosed rates or terms. And for years, fashion’s elite has scoffed at the idea, often treating the concept like a piraña in high-end waters. After all, designers, creative directors, and photographers all seem to be in tandem when It comes to having complete creative control over how their products are presented, especially when the line is intended to elicit a certain feeling. For example, the Chanel fashion shows in Paris are an ethereal escape to gardens, beaches, airports, French chateaus, and other places that make the buyer want to travel, escape, or experience a life change. Without creative directors guiding those creative decisions, how are we supposed to “feel” in those products? What story are we supposed to tell?

This is particularly difficult in an economic environment where the majority of high-end purchases are in the accessories lines.

Perhaps, GiGi Hadid’s Instagram post–where a magazine sent her clothes and gave her creative freedom–might be an indicator as to how designers and companies approach marketing in the post-Coronavirus world, where financial losses might dictate a sort of transparency the fashion industry has never seen before, in terms of models controlling how their viewed (objectified), or how they connect with the brands.

For Hadid, when Vogue Italia sent her the brief, “create a fantasy scene of what we actually do in sweats,” her creativity had no boundaries. She was sent a Chanel ensemble and had complete creative direction. Instead of a seductive, coquettish look and photo that Instagram models have perfected, Hadid interpreted the brief in a way that even the most unassuming “soccer mom” could relate to, as she plays her hand at her kids’ video games while they do their chores.

Perhaps the idea of high fashion being presented as an intangible cap on top of the upper crust of society provides a tremendous value for those who crave social order, however, in a post-COVID-19 era, luxury brands will need to review their strategies to move products, and if it means throwing the pretentious gloves off and sending models or digital influencers products and a brief with complete creative control to give the rest of society a sense of relatability, it might provide a blueprint for how the fashion industry could recover with grace.

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