(Above: Josh Quinton and Andy Bradin, aka DJ duo Disco Smack, have ben enthusiastically embraced by the fashion crowd)
Fashion bloggers brought a wave of fresh, democratic air to the industry. The lucky ones were able to turn their thousands of followers into a business, with brands paying to feature in their Instagram posts and YouTube videos. In the first waves of influencer collaboration it was a numbers game, with brands scrambling in hot pursuit of the mass market influencer elite. But now that we have reached saturation point, both brands and bloggers are turning to a more focused approach in order to make an impact.
Influencers are increasingly becoming more niche, allowing them to build audiences that are identifiable and focussed for brands who want to be able to target consumers clearly. Many are also going beyond just fashion itself to carve out distinct lifestyle identities.
Pari Ehsan, an Instagrammer with over 207k followers, combines fashion with art and architecture. Her unique approach is to take looks straight from the catwalk and shoot them against coordinating artwork in New York’s galleries and museums. As Ehsan’s popularity grew, so did the offers from brands to the extent that she has now collaborated with a wealth of fashion powerhouses including Missoni, Barneys, Chanel and Christian Dior.
Karen Robinovitz, chief creative officer at Digital Brand Architects, represents Ehsan as well as influencers such as art director Isabelita Martinez (@isabelitavirtual, 742k followers) and interior designer Athena Calderone (@eyeswoon, 56k followers). “The lens of the fashion influencer has widened to other genres outside of fashion because those who consume their content and brands in general are interested in multiple things,” she says. “Brands don’t market with just their product but larger cultural zeitgeist moments and trends in order to bring their items to life. The same is true with an influencer.”
It’s not just luxury brands that are in pursuit of influencers that offer more than just general fashion. Ever quick to embrace and extend their influencer collaborations, Topshop have spotlighted a wave of ‘New British Influencers’ whose content now plugs directly into the Topshop site.
Credibility can now count for more than quantity of followers as brands become more sophisticated in their use of influencers. Disney Roller Girl’s Navaz Batliwalla and Yasmin Sewell may have a fraction of the reach that some of their peers have, but they both began their careers within the fashion industry.
Batliwalla was fashion director at CosmoGIRL! as well as an experienced stylist, while Sewell was buying director at Brown’s and chief creative consultant at Liberty. This experience cements their reputation and guarantees an audience of industry peers, as well as promising an informed and experienced perspective.
Despite the sheer numbers available, creative influencers are becoming increasingly popular and lucrative channels for brands. Unlike many celebrities, they are not just mouthpieces for brands. Instead, audiences view them as authoritative and trustworthy – which in a world that is increasingly reliant on word-of-mouth over traditional advertising can be priceless.
Five Influencers to Watch
By Amy Scrimshire of Fashion and Beauty Monitor
Aka Charlotte Roberts and Bertie Brandes, The Mushpit is a tongue-in-cheek ‘zine that has been described as ‘Just 17 meets Private Eye’. Charlotte is a stylist and consultant, Bertie is a freelance writer, i-D contributing features editor and former VICE Fashion editor. The pair have strong industry relationships, championing upcoming creatives and so far have forged collaborations with brands including Claire Barrow and Baby G.
Fashion photographer Rory DCS has worked with titles including the Sunday Times Style, Observer Fashion, Glamour and The Debrief. A graduate of and lecturer at the London College of Fashion, Rory’s stylistic, dreamy images of girls feature in the coffee table-friendly ‘visual self-help’ tome, How To Be Fun, which was released earlier this year.
Jeanie Annan-Lewin, or Jeanius82 as her Instagram moniker goes, is a freelance fashion editor and consultant. A frequent contributor to fashion and music titles, Jeanie has worked with i-D, Wonderland, NYLON, Burberry and Topshop.
Recently named YSL Beauté UK make-up ambassador, and already contributing beauty editor at i-D magazine at 25, Isamaya is a makeup artist/illustrator with a bold approach. She’s worked with creatives including designer Tim Walker and photographer Nick Knight, and with clients including Chanel, Selfridges, Liberty and Vogue.
The DJ duo, aka Josh Quinton and Andy Bradin (see previous page), teamed up through their love of disco music. They’ve been wholeheartedly embraced by the fashion crowd for their fun attitude and individual looks, playing for the likes of Mario Testino and Kate Moss. They’ve also featured in British Vogue, a Lanvin campaign and on the catwalk for Saint Laurent.
Sarah Penny is the editor of Fashion and Beauty Monitor for the UK and US , fashionmonitor.com