Social media influencers
Fashion was advertised in magazines such as Vogue and on catwalks. But since 2018 platforms such as Instagram have taken over, with fashion being presented on social media platforms by influencers. Of Instagram’s total audience, 200 million users follow at least one fashion account.
In Britain, 45% of these followers claim they follow fashion accounts to gain inspiration. On Instagram #fashion is mentioned 13 million times a month and #ootd (outfit of the day) has featured in 140 million posts up to 2018.
Social media has allowed fashion brands to interact and communicate with their customers. Instagram has become the biggest platform for fashion brands to connect with their audience directly. There is no longer a need for brands to organize as many catwalk events or print advertising campaigns in magazines.
Due to this change, brands are encouraged to use ‘real people’ with different bodies, skin tones, gender, ethnicity and disability to showcase their clothing.
Influencers and diversity
Influencers and consumers no longer have to wait for the latest Vogue magazine to be on sale to discover the latest fashion trends. It is now all published on social media. Displaying images of outfits and clothing, friends’ and celebrities’ outfit photos, outfits that influencers have tagged and so on.
Beauty influencer Arshia Moorjani has over 600,000 social media followers and works with top brands like L’Oréal and Estée Lauder.
“I have turned down many campaigns because the brand is not inclusive, and this goes beyond the products. Before agreeing to any campaigns, I study the brand from looking at their products, social media accounts, and past campaigns.
I want brands to continue to work with a diverse group of people, not for the sake of being inclusive but from an understanding of why actually diversity matters. Everyone should feel represented in this industry and that goes beyond one’s skin tone. True diversity means showcasing people with different backgrounds, gender, body type, age, sexual orientation, audience size, and more.”
Influencers have so much power on social media taking into consideration the importance of promoting diversity in their posts and work. This is achievable by choosing companies that embrace different bodies, race and gender to help drive diversity through fashion, bringing it to the attention of their audience.
Influencers need to work with other inclusive brands such as Mac and Nars, creating beauty products attracting a wider consumer audience. Influencers can help these forward thinking brands by advertising their products on their social media accounts.
How brands are embracing diversity
Many brands have had problems in the past due to their lack of inclusivity in their choice of influencers. It is of the utmost importance that a brand includes diversity to make a connection with influencers and potential customers. If a brand’s influencer shows diversity in their campaign or posts, the followers will feel associated with the brand. Which in turn makes it more likely that the follower will purchase the brand’s clothing because of their recommendation.
Brands have to understand that inclusivity is not limited to race and colour. Diversity in influencers should highlight people of all race, cultural background, social class, age, gender, religious beliefs and sexual orientation.
Successfully showcased diversity by influencers
Sephora is one brand that has used influencers to showcase diversity. They launched a #SephoraSquad campaign to find new influencers. To be more inclusive Sephora accepted every influencer that showed interest regardless of their followings.
Choosing influencers who represented a diverse range of ethnicities, gender, age, sexuality and nationality. By creating #SephoraSquad influencer campaign, Sephora’s customers could identify with the brand. In return the brand gained a better understanding of the consumers’ perception of beauty.
Another brand that has used influencers to showcase diversity is undergarment brand Aerie. The brand started to be inclusive in 2014 when they released an influencer campaign for the brand’s #AerieReal campaign. This campaign featured non-professional female models of all sizes. Their photos were unedited wearing Aerie underwear. Aerie empowered every woman, and as a brand they stood out from other brands with their inclusive campaign. They encouraged women to have confidence in their bodies regardless of their shape and size.
In 2018 Aerie showcased even more diversity by representing women with disabilities, physical and mental illnesses. The brand featured women with chronic illness, diabetes, surgical scarring, prosthetic body parts and many more.
Aerie has chosen the most diverse group of influencers for their campaigns over the years with different racial backgrounds, colour, body types, sexual orientation and age. As a fashion brand it has embraced diversity via influencers by doing this as a marketing strategy. Aerie continues to empower women and send out positivity on social media.
Brands vs diversity
Brands have learnt how to be inclusive via social media influencers. By creating influencer campaigns, it encourages brands to embrace diversity. Before fashion influencers became popular, fashion brands were not as inclusive as they are today. Social media has helped brands cater for all shapes and sizes.
Since 2014 influencers have acknowledged, encouraged and succeeded in the diversity agenda through fashion on social media platforms such as Instagram, promoting inclusive brands.