“One day you’re in, and the next day you’re out.”
In the age of influencers, Heidi Klum’s infamous quote from the reality TV show Project Runway has never felt so true. What was once controlled by an exclusive group of designers has shifted into a multi-billion dollar industry ruled by public opinion, which is often being communicated through social media. While there are still many of the same players left in the game, such as large-scale fashion houses (Gucci, Dior, and Louis Vuitton to name a few), new voices are leading the pack when it comes to what’s trending in the fashion space. Gone are the days of having an elite clique decide what’s cool or not cool, as we move into an era where everyone’s opinion is easily available at the click of a button. Now, it seems, anyone can be an influencer, in that their opinions will, well, influence people’s decisions.
More and more, fashion enthusiasts are taking to platforms such as Instagram and Twitter to discuss the social and political changes within the fashion industry. An establishment formerly known for its exclusivity based on physical appearance is now being faced with the public’s demand for diversity and is feeling the pressure to accommodate. Referred to as “watchdog accounts,” certain groups are known for exposing biases within the industry, particularly when it comes to runway castings and the treatment of models of different cultural backgrounds. Victoria’s Secret has had one of the more public blows to its reputation after its former CEO’s transphobic commentary was publicized in 2018. By mid-2019, the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was canceled indefinitely. The decision was met with widespread cheers across Twitter.
And, while the fashion industry becoming more inclusive is (obviously) a positive change, the way in which we’re achieving this sets an interesting precedent. I think, too often, we as consumers forget how much our opinions are taken into account, and especially on how large of a scale. While social media platforms can numb us to the sheer amount of images we see in a day, it’s important to remember that what we put out does have an impact. In just the last decade, the speed in which our world moves has increased a tenfold, and fashion brands and companies are scrambling to keep up. The idea that all social media users are “influencers” in their own right certainly seems to ring true, particularly when opinions start getting more and more passionate.
In the coming weeks, we’ll continue to discuss the impact that social media has on the fashion industry, including how influencers have started oversaturating the market, why you like the latest trends, and what you can do to make a difference in the industry right from your phone. You hold a lot more power than you think, and your phone is where a lot of it is used. You have an opinion. Share it. You never know what you could change.