Once upon a time, it was every little girl’s dream to be a pop star. What could be better than being a Spice Girl? Singing, award ceremonies, music videos, dancing and David Beckham as a husband. Flash forward to 2018 and times have changed. Why be a pop star, when you could be an influencer? What’s an influencer, you say? My best bet is you have heard of one or two of them already since some have become household names. The queen of them all, of course, is Kim Kardashian, influencer par excellence. It’s a job that didn’t even exist 20 years ago. It effectively started as a direct result of Instagram giving everyone, not just celebrities, the chance to reach out to millions and influence what they bought.
In some ways, influencers are the new ‘It’ girls – remember Lady Victoria Hervey and Tara Palmer-Tomkinson in the
Nineties? – but with a whole lot more business acumen and self-marketing savvy. Plus they make a lot more money than those It girls ever did. The job description is certainly attractive: be paid to go to parties wearing designer clothes you’ve been given for free; be sent designer items just so you post them on Instagram; get paid anything from £2,000 to £30,000 per Instagram post/mention (dependent on the amount of followers you have); collaborate with brands on their campaigns or bring out your own collection of something (jewellery, perfume, shoes, fashion line, make up, fitness apps); be sent on holidays to promote brands, hotels or even locations. In a short space of time, fashion influencers have become a fundamental part of the fashion establishment.
They sit in the front row at major fashion shows; they land prominent ad campaigns; they star on the front cover of magazines. Indeed, social media following is now the most powerful currency in fashion: according to Launchmetrics $2 billion was spent on influencer marketing in 2017, with fashion and beauty accounting for 40 per cent of that figure. Some might say brands that aren’t using influencers, are losing out big time. However, influencers can have a negative effect on brands too: such is their pulling power that they can literally knock millions off of a company’s value with a single tweet. In 2017 Kylie Jenner famously wiped £1 billion off the stock value of Snapchat when she tweeted: ‘So does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me?…Ugh this is so sad…’ The most important mark of an influencer’s success is the number of followers they have, but while influencers who have millions of followers are fundamentally now celebrities, they don’t necessarily have the biggest impact on sales figures for brands. So-called ‘micro influencers’, with between 10,000 to 999,000 followers, are seen to be more ‘genuine’ and their followers ‘trust’ them far more. This means that there is an even stronger relationship between sales densities and that influencer mentioning a certain product in their feed. The key ingredient brands look for is ‘follower engagement’ which is essentially the ratio of the number of likes to comments to number of followers.
It’s not just the Kate Middleton effect anymore – these influencers can post a dress and make it sell out within hours. The data is tracked by platforms such as RewardStyle which can verify how many sales are derived from any given post and calculate how much influencers are owed for the mention. RewardStyle also owns Liketoknow.it which its claims drove $140 million of sales to its partners’ websites in 2016. The platform is by invitation only and, again, some of their best accounts aren’t people with 1 million followers, but those with 30,000 followers, who command the most trust and loyalty from their specific audience, some can earn $100,000 for one post if the sales figures are strong. Are influencers here to stay? While there are some who believe the ‘influencer bubble’ is set to burst, it’s far more likely that influencer marketing will become even more important. That said, influencers will certainly need to work hard to ensure their relevance and authenticity as brands use improving technology and digital platforms to measure their data and manage their relationships with influencers.
17.8M Followers (2019)
The 31-year-old Italian launched her fashion blog ‘The Blonde Salad’, in the pre-Instagram days of 2009. In 2011 Teen Vogue wrote an article on her which propelled her to stardom and when Harvard Business Review ran its first ever case study on influencers in 2015, it cited Chiara’s earnings in 2014 as $8 million. Chiara has her own accessories and footwear collection which earned her $20 million in 2016 alone and has collaborated with brands such as Gucci and Guess. It was even reported that she was paid $40,000 to attend the opening of Stuart Weitzman’s Milan flagship.
807,000 Followers (2019)
Labelled by BoF as ‘one of the fashion industry’s leading influencers’, French-born Camille was pursuing a career in law and finance in London when she quit to take the plunge into fashion. In 2010 she launched a blog called Camille Over the Rainbow; she later landed jobs at Net-a-Porter and Matches Fashion and today is a regular on the fashion circuit. Camille co-hosts a fashion podcast and has collaborated with brands such as Mango, Reformation, H&M, Chloé, Tommy Hilfiger and Harrods.
3. Aimee Song
4. Lucy Williams
450,000 Followers (2019)
Fashion and travel influencer, Lucy began her career as a fashion assistant at renowned online lifestyle magazine Sheerluxe.com before moving on to become an assistant fashion & beauty editor at Stylus. Since then she has swapped the 9-5 grind in favor of full-time blogging and collaborations with flourishing brands such as Missoma and Aeyde. In a recent interview with Harpers Bazaar Lucy discusses the importance of partnering with brands that feel right, she says ‘There’s nothing better than working with a brand you love to create something you want to wear, then seeing other people buying and wearing it too’.