The current wave of online engagement within the style and beauty community has changed the way in which millennials, including myself, approach and admire fashion. Before YouTube hit its vlogger peak, I received my fashion fix from monthlies like Glamour and Elle, flicking through various editorial shoots and interviews with style icons of the moment from Jennifer Lopez to Gwen Stefani.
These glamourous stars heavily influenced my taste for fashion, after seeing their outfits on the red carpet or in music videos. I would spot the same images in magazines with arrows drawn all over the page, pointing out places where you can “buy the look for less.” This cycle of celebrity, style and commerce would go hand-in-hand when it came to magazine publications – one would help the other flourish and vice versa.
However, through the rise of the digital age, particularly around 2008 onwards, the way in which we consider fashion has majorly transformed. YouTube began to reach new realms after regular girls would post videos showcasing what they bought that week (now widely recognised as “Haul videos”). They spoke to the camera as if they were your friend from school catching up after the weekend. This feeling of familiarity is what has caused these types of videos to gain such popularity on YouTube.
The close connection we feel as viewers watching online content created by regular people, has become a powerful tool in navigating style influence, as opposed to the dated way we used to pine for celebrity looks that we’d spot from the distance of a magazine.
Fast forward to 2017, and due to the increased popularity of fashion vloggers and content creators, there is a new form of celebrity and new style icons appearing. Companies have realised that they can benefit heavily from working with this new wave of “influencers” as they have a large online following that buy into their opinions on clothing, beauty products and other brands they decide to associate with. L’Oréal has gained a lot of headlines recently for its latest True Match campaign, which sees the leading beauty brand work with a number of British vloggers to promote their foundation range.
L’Oréal understood the benefits they would receive working with these online stars, however the campaign took a turn for the ugly when they fired transgender Monroe Bergdorf from the campaign after commenting on the state of racism today. Monroe has since gone on to receive numerous other campaigns and exposure from this mistreatment, and has ironically gained more Instagram followers and support through social media as a result of her dismissal. This shows that the influence cast through online platforms is stronger than ever. More opportunities are now available for millennials who want to create something for themselves instead of relying on a household brand to push them forward.
Style icons that existed before this era will always remain icons, however the ones that stay relevant are those who move with the digital time, creating an online base alongside fashion bloggers upon which they can post iconic looks and notifications of their other business ventures to their fans. Rihanna has found major success with her designer collaborations and Fenty Beauty largely through promoting her work on her Instagram page, as well as Victoria Beckham who has recently been seen inviting vloggers to her fashion launches. Beyoncé also promotes her charity organisations through her Instagram and official website. Even designers have created pages to establish that connection with potential customers.
It’s all about intimacy when it comes to creating an influence. Show people your genuine passion for fashion. Build an audience on the back of your originality, it’s the way forward in this new fashion world.
Written by Escher Walcott