The fashion industry has often been synonymous with the glitz and the glam. For a long time, conservatives often considered people working in fashion not to have an actual or even proper job. Now that some people have finally come to understand that not only you can get a great career in fashion, you can also make a pretty good living out of it; the misconception has now shifted to what it means to work as an influencer. And funny enough, the same fashion insiders that were once criticized are now that are sentencing and accusing influencers of not having a proper job.
Right after Suzy Menkes “The Circus of Fashion” article for the New York Times, 2016 was the year of the battle: Vogue editors vs bloggers. In a Milan Fashion Week review, these editors accused bloggers of being “desperate,” and “pathetic” outside of shows, and of being the death of style! We understand how it could be frustrating for these editors as they feel some of these influencers haven’t paid their dues but now have a seat at the table. It is true that there’s always a girl posing in the middle of traffic and that in fact could cause an accident as one of the editors pointed out. It is also true that they do tend to have the same style since the same brands are dressing them and they don’t add their personal touch to the outfits. But in our humble opinion, that’s not the real issue here!
It’s troubling that, some influencers have become A-listers and are considered celebrities instead of fashion critics. They’re being paid to wear head-to-toe clothes, and now we can no longer distinguish which post is an ad and which isn’t. Although there’s nothing wrong with an influencer being paid to promote a brand as it is a business, after all, they seem to have forgotten that we turned to them for their honest opinion! Whether they’re shopping, giving their impression of a particular product or even when they’re unwrapping a gift, the only word that seems to come to mind to describe what they think or feel about it is: “I’m obsessed”! Even their use of words has become “blogger universal.” Talk about lack of individuality! These personalities go to shows after shows barely looking at the collections that are right in front of them only because they’re more focused on posting and on who’s watching their stories. But at the end of the day, they are being invited to fashion shows and getting paid because of the number of people the products can reach. However, what’s even more disturbing, is that being invited to these fashion events might feel like it comes with a “price.” Let’s face it; they are entering an industry that was once only open to just a niche of people, which could make them feel a certain type of way towards these brands and ultimately making it hard for them to criticize the labels, (which explains their behavior). Attending these events and having a relationship with some brands has become more important than being real. Who would want to be on any brands bad side? For example, most influencers would rather say that Stefano Gabbana started following them instead of Stefano Gabbana blocked them. As a result, every single designer’s collection is always “so beautiful” and “amazing.” Who would have ever told their audience for instance that the latest Versace show was dreadful, but the original supermodels saved the day or that Irina Shayk was a distraction to the non-existing Philipp Plein collection.
All that said, influencers do have their importance, and in the Middle East, it might even be more significant since, overall the fact that they are blogging full-time and are taken seriously is a positive message, as to how far the region has come. According to Campaign Middle East, “94 percent of UAE marketeers acknowledge the importance of influencer marketing to enhance their brand”. Influencers now have a platform to adequately express themselves, share their different experiences, raise awareness on specific issues, and in the long run, create conversations that wouldn’t have taken place otherwise. Being an influencer does require actual work, and it’s not always glitzy and glamorous. Nevertheless, until some changes happen, the following questions will always remain the same: How can brands trust influencers according to the number of followers, when some influencers have been caught buying them? How can influencers maintain a good relationship with the brands while being honest? What will happen when influencers no longer feel the need to promote other brands, but their owns? The most crucial out of all: How can the audience trust again when their entire feeds are full of ads?
By Anne-Isabelle Saint-Pierre
@WeWoreWhat / Instagram
@SongofStyle / Instagram