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Street style stars are fading out, disgraced designers return seeking redemption and brands are competing with each other for social media glory. Is the future of luxury fashion creating a new kind of celebrity, a new face?
The new celebrity
Your conventional off-duty model shots and street-style stars are slowly petering out when it comes to influencing the future of fashion. But I’m not necessarily arguing that bloggers will be stepping in to take their place. There’s a long long way to go for those in our industry before we, as a collective, will be fully accepted by the fashion industry. But that’s for another post.
Because of millennials and our penchant for heralding positive change, Fashion has had to sit up and take note of the discrimination that it has allowed to go on in the past. Key figures in the industry, like Ulyana Sergeenko and Mira Duma have been knocked off their pedestals, and are no longer on-brand in light of the racist slurs they have publicly used (and this is a big change now because transphobic things that were said years ago have only just been called out).
And okay, you may be thinking, what about John Galliano who took a hiatus from his fashion career after making a loud and ugly anti-semitic scene? Forgive him or not, the honesty about rehab and what drove him to do such a thing is probably what has allowed millennials to accept Maison Margiela and Galliano’s vision. Whether or not sales are good, I’d like to find out.
Okay, so who is the new celebrity for luxury fashion? It’s the individuals who are willing to talk about the problems that are deserving – and guess what, on a grassroots level, the ones speaking out are the bloggers. Take Aimee from Song of Style who has been very vocal in response to the criticism that Revolve does not promote racial diversity. Or people like Ellie from Slip Into Style who are standing up to the issue of unequal representation in Fashion Week images.
Influencers aside, there’s another kind of celebrity for luxury brands. And this one feels oddly familiar but with a twist.
All brands, whether beauty or fashion, have always relied on an ‘it’ product to generate sales and interest. But now, brands can’t fall back on their classic and renowned hero without it having a relevant online presence. That’s right, I’m arguing that a brand has to be a social media star in its own right, with it’s key product as it’s face.
This is an especially tempting route to explore when the more exclusive a brand, the more guarded it can be with its image and representation. However, this is not to say that nothing else matters but just that brands are behaving more like the influencers they approach and rightly so.
This year sees the first ever Vogue Beauty Awards, which features an influencer category for the brands that have made themselves known through social media – think Glossier and Anastasia Beverly Hills. What we are seeing is competition between companies, not for sales or design/function but for their online reputation and appeal. The same follows through to fashion, where Business of Fashion publishes reports on the designers with the most buzz on Instagram. And as I’ve predicted before, the luxury market is a niche that is set to boom in social media marketing and influencer activation, and this will only accelerate and support its efforts.
shot by Anastasija, @anastasija__je
This is part 2 of The Future of Luxury Fashion, if you missed the first post, here it is!