Why Luxury Fashion Influencers Are Becoming Irrelevant?
The recent years have not been kind to luxury fashion influencers. And now, they’re at the brink of extinction. In this article we want to explore the causes behind a decline of influencer coverage in the designer sector, how has it been affected by the digital transformation of the industry, and what’s coming next.
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Despite its birth and rapid growth around the year 2009, the lifecycle of a fad that was fashion influencing is steadily coming to an end. Although the era of social media, especially visual platforms such as Instagram, has turned this into a marketing tool for big brands, tools tend to get broken. And then, we ought to replace them.
This is exactly what’s happened to luxury fashion influencers - the model simply stopped working. And a fast-paced cut-neck sector such as the designer clothing industry cannot dwell on outdated practices. But let’s discuss what are the reasons behind high-end fashion influencers losing their footing.
Authenticity is Trending
The word ‘influencer’ itself has long since become a synonym of insincerity and controversy. The problem here is that the purpose of luxury fashion influencers is to share their expertise in the sphere with the general public, therefore translating trends seen on the catwalk to their audiences.
These trend predictions and early adoption are meant to be something the influencer believes and actively utilises themselves, which makes it authentic. The power of fashion influencers to lead the public to purchase particular brands or styles is what designers from all across the globe try to harness.
By either offering freebies or financial compensations, luxury labels have the influencers manipulate their audience into purchasing specific products by featuring them as something they recommend. When, in reality, they may not be interested in the item and would not consider it otherwise.
While this approach was largely successful at the beginning of the movement, the audience was quick to learn they’re being deceived. And, of course, no one enjoys being manipulated. Now that social media users are more careful and more prone to judge for themselves as opposed to listening to luxury fashion influencer recommendations, the popularity of the latter is beginning to fade. Whereas the demand for authenticity is on a steep rise.
The Scam of Relatability
The term ‘Scam of Relatability’ was first used by Bobo Matjila, cohost of the Bobo and Flex podcast. In the interview with Teen Vogue, she expressed the idea that although the influencers are trying to be highly relatable to their audience, this could not be further from the truth. The recent pandemic has highlighted that despite projecting their lives as not dissimilar from the day-to-day lives of their follows, the public and the influencers actually live in different universes.
This again ties back into authenticity concerns. So far, the luxury fashion influencers are caught projecting advertisements as their opinion and creating an illusion of living lives identical to the audience they’re addressing. These two factors are particularly damaging to their credibility. And an influencer that loses credibility cannot influence the masses anymore, therefore becoming irrelevant.
Shifting Influencer Stereotypes
As Gen Z, who’s been raised by social media and has witnessed the consequences of unethical fashion influencer practices growing up, are entering the arena, we can see the landscape of the influencer marketing change.
The unique trait of new generation influencers is that they strongly oppose inauthenticity and are big advocates of embracing imperfection and diversity. This resonates with their audience that shares similar values. And, therefore, the new wave of influencers that are focusing on spreading ideas instead of selling products is steadily pushing the existing luxury fashion influencers out of the ring.
The Impact of the Pandemic
As we’ve briefly mentioned, the recent pandemic has put an emphasis on the issues and controversies the current state of the influencer industry poses. Most issues arose from the fact that the actions of many social media figures during the lockdown combined the two of their faults: being inauthentic with their opinion and being misleading in their efforts to appear relatable when they are not. We will look into both cases separately.
Throughout the lockdown, a notorious luxury fashion blogger has posted series of Instagram stories with a cry for help, having shared they’re facing financial difficulties due to loss of revenue. However, not even a week later on their YouTube channel, they were reviewing their newest purchase, a 900$ Prada handbag.
The audience was quick to notice the inconsistency in this story and it didn’t take long to confirm this was, indeed, not a purchase but a paid promotion. However, the influencer has hidden the fact of the review being sponsored. After a public backlash and huge losses of followership, the blogger has posted a video apologising for being insincere, but that was also met with hostility and the influencer has since disabled their accounts.
The example of emphasising the gap between themselves and the audience when trying to be relatable was much wider spread. From complaining about how brands would pull out of collaborations due to revenue losses to bringing covid to a luxury resort upon its early days of reopening for the sake of a photoshoot, many luxury influences have proved to be very distant from their followers.
Damage of Luxury Fashion Bloggers on the Industry
The negative opinion and loss of trust in influencers have affected the luxury fashion industry. Similarly to how promotions from highly regarded opinion leaders would drive sales for the brand, and influencers losing credibility would result in consumers choosing to avoid brands they’re associated with.
In other words, fashion labels that invested in promotions from influencers that were caught into controversies didn’t receive the return of investment. In many cases, they ended up losing even more. Given the status of the luxury clothing sector during the pandemic that was on a decline due to store closures and widespread redundancies among consumers, the damage sustained had even more negative implications.
Will Luxury Fashion Influencers Disappear?
Simply put - no. The influencer market is just another form of advertisement. As a practice, however, it is likely to cease to exist in a near future. Both the brands and the audience are no longer finding it as relevant as before, and both are crucial for the influencers to remain.
The new format to replace it is already emerging. And it is a community mindset built around cooperation and sharing with each other as opposed to following the same leader.
The pandemic was certainly the last straw for the public that has been growing impatient with the lack of authenticity and insincerity of the influencers. These flaws, as well as the true scale of the gap between the general population and social media celebrities, is what led to the eventual downfall of the industry.
Brands were quick to identify what’s happening and pulled the control out of the hands of the Instagram divas, handing it to the public instead. We, as a community, are now in a position to make a new landscape.
Online is a good place to start. Join our forum to start building your own circle.