It’s crazy to fathom how fashion enthusiasts, starting out with only their opinion and the know-how of digital avenues, turned into influential fashion bloggers. This new breed of entrepreneur has had an effect on the way brands reach the consumers. While fashion companies such as H&M and American Apparel may have started blogs as a valuable asset for the company, it doesn’t compare to the pulling-power of a blogger. For example, American Vogue managed to have 2.8 million followers, which is just shy of The Blonde Salad’s 2.9 million followers. The fashion bloggers influence is so great that notable designers will reach out to them to push their brand. Marc Jacobs, for example, collaborated with Leandra Medine of ‘The Man Repeller’ to live-host one of his 2012 shows. While Steve Madden collaborated with Chiara Ferragni from The Blonde Salad, to promote a Spring 2014 shoe collection. So what has given these bloggers such power to impact the global fashion industry?
For starters, the fashion industry isn’t static. Thus the marketing campaigns that traditionally worked, such as print, aren’t as captivating as the current power of online marketing. For example, British luxury brand, Burberry, initiated the ‘Burberry Acoustic Project’ in 2010 after realising their traditional strategy wasn’t appealing to a younger audience. Working with popular recording artists, the project featured a series of music videos where these artists sang acoustic versions of their most popular songs dressed entirely in Burberry. This initiative took 60% of their marketing budget but it gave them the boost in online presence that they needed. Not to mention an overall rise in sales.
But even on the online landscapes, a brand requires a little blogger magic to create a truly captivating campaign. Whereas the acoustic project was entertaining, we’ve already discovered that bloggers have a way of affecting consumer behaviour and building bankable brand awareness. Calvin Klein tapped into this for his #MyCalvins campaign where the brand encouraged people to get on social media platforms and share images of themselves in their Calvin Klein underwear. Now, this idea in any other circles would have been ludicrous, almost equivalent to the raised thong straps massacres of the early 2000s. However he carefully selected well-known bloggers with large audiences including The Man Repeller, Love Aesthetics, Fashion Toast, and The Blonde Salad. He then sent them the iconic underwear to be the first to uploaded photos of themselves wearing CK underwear briefs with the hashtag #MyCalvins. Once this phase was completed, the call out for everyday folks to share their own underwear selfies and showing how they incorporate the CK briefs into their lives began, with Calvin Klein sharing all selfies under the hashtag on the Calvin Klein blog. No doubt it became a viral success. Instagram alone had over 17,000 underwear-revealing selfies.
On the flipside, a bloggers influence can go the negative route and directly alter a brand or products’ visual identity. Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) know this impact only too well. American blogger, Kelly Mau, took on their sizing guidelines when she posted, “Abercrombie & Fitch introduces Size 000 – A Triple zero madness? Girls, this is exactly what we all have waited for so long: Size triple Zero 000. – It will give us a reason to eat even less, to work out even more, to get even more self-conscious at an even younger age. Hallelujah!” the reaction to this post was so strong that that A&F bosses had to release a statement on the issue and adapt their production methods which includes sizing, to the views expressed. Whether your Calvin Klein or A&F the fact is that as a designer doesn’t have full control over the kind of content that comes out.
Accepted and trusted “trend-setters,”
Bloggers not only keep up with the constant fashion industry changes, but they also dedicate time and effort to produce visual media for multiple channels so that the fashion hungry audiences have the insider look into new trends, seasons and what is in or out. That is why designers will place bloggers in their front rows, at their events and shows. In the hope that the blogger will be an advertiser and promoter of their work to their large following of geographically dispersed spectators. A larger audience means more awareness, especially in untapped markets, and increased sales.
Build new designers
Another major role the fashion bloggers play is introducing new designers into the exclusive world of fashion that revolves around those who have essentially made it. It’s hard to compete with iconic brands that, over time, have developed and preserved their influence. Through a blogger’s personal style that is similar to that of the designer, coupled with the blogger’s transparent, accessible and relatable persona, a new designer can reach out to a broader audience of prospective customers who sincerely appreciate the particular style. And the perks don’t stop there. Blogs and bloggers create the avenue for honest product reviews where the consumers can converse with each other freely or with the designer (or their team). This adds to their awareness, especially if they’re pushing a specific product or item.
Megan Elliott, the founder of the successful fashion and lifestyle blog ‘Lush to Blush’ noted that providing candid commentary of featured products can turn bloggers into trusted sites that readers will consult for all fashion inspiration. These blogs will even be considered the gospel-truth over the content the producer or company puts out.
There’s no denying that the fashion bloggers are not only embedded in the fashion world, but they have a focal role to play, especially in the case of new designers. In a society that relies so heavily on digital forms of marketing, designers are reaching out more to top fashion blogger sites such as the Style Bubble, Go Fug Yourself and High Snobiety to increase their exposure and relevance in a dynamic industry.
The fact is that Kenya does have the best of both worlds – fashion and blogging – but they aren’t fully tapping into the online power the fashion blogger yields to grow the industry even further. If we are ever going to build ‘Brand Kenya’ in the fashion arena there’s got to be more audience awareness and brand exposure. Not to mention the introduction and growth of new players too. It’s time we really embraced the role and power of the fashion blogger.