Influencers in the System: The Instant Media of Fashion
It was a Saturday morning at The Grove shopping mall, one of the biggest outdoor retail and entertainment complexes in Los Angeles. The West Coast’s winter breeze was still warm enough for Rebecca Minkoff’s off-shoulder tops and sundresses.
A rail car arrived with a sign reading, “REBECCA MINKOFF, #RMGoesGrove.” With live performances from MILCK and #ICantBeQuietChoir going on in the background, the show finally was underway. The first Rebecca Girl stepped out of the train and started to stroll down the cobblestone runway, but there was something unusual about her. She was about a head shorter than most runway models. She looked like an average girl, excited to walk on the runway. She was Aimee Song (@songofstyle), one of the most successful fashion bloggers on Instagram, and it was one of those rare occasions when a designer chose a “real person” over supermodels to open and close a show. Understanding the value and influence that bloggers like Aimee possess today, Minkoff decided Aimee was the best choice to present her collection.(1) Who would question Aimee’s average height and features, when she is capable of bringing her over-4-million-strong blog audience to the event by livestreaming the runway show?
Including Aimee, Minkoff invited eight “digital influencers,” each with a large fan-base in their social media empires. Minkoff wanted those fans not only to watch their favorite bloggers on the catwalk during the livestreamed show, but also to become prospective consumers of her collection—immediately.
Traditionally, runway pieces are available for purchase six months after they appear at a fashion show, but in today’s culture, in which fast access to information and products is critical, the fashion industry is currently testing a See-Now-Buy-Now strategy, in which audiences—watching either online or in person—can purchase pieces during or right after the show. For the past few years, media technology has made fashion shows available to the public online, but See-Now-Buy-Now has added another dimension to make fashion more easily accessible to consumers. As audiences watch livestreamed runway shows online, they can place orders concurrently.
In recent years, fashion audiences were able to engage with the industry with active help from fashion bloggers. Bloggers have become part of the routine marketing strategy, as they can intimately approach their audiences while promoting brands and events. However, leaping from blogs to runways, fashion bloggers became physically present in marketing campaigns by brands and designers. In other words, it was a moment when fashion bloggers proved their influence over the fashion industry.
1 Stephanie Chan, “Rebecca Minkoff’s Social Runway Show Was About Female Empowerment,” Pret-a-Reporter, February 4, 2017, http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/rebecca-minkoffs-la-show-at-grove-972063.