Brands vs. influencers: Who holds more power?

Brands vs. influencers: Who holds more power?
Brands vs. influencers: Who holds more power?

This is Connecting the Dots, a series in which writer José Criales-Unzueta looks at how fashion, pop culture, the internet and society are all interconnected.

If you’ve ever wondered why some influencers wear tiny shorts and skimpy tops from spring collections to attend autumn shows in the middle of winter, sit back and stay on for this ride.

Once upon a time — pre-Instagram — bloggers and VIP guests would rarely be offered a piece from a collection or to attend a brand’s show. “The point [of blogging] used to be to be impartial, but then this subcategory of ‘influencers’ developed,” remembers Camille Charrière of her blogging days, “and you started to get the opportunity to attend [shows] but also get dressed by the brand.”

Influencers were born when brands decided to meet their consumers where they were — online — and realized they could leverage bloggers’ attendance to promote not just their shows, but their current collections too. In return, the bloggers received clout from the brand association.

“But it was never about a full look,” notes Charrière. That much has changed. What used to be a casual practice between brands and attendees has developed into a fully fledged strategy. “Social media has made fashion about going viral — it’s not about style,” says Charrière. It’s a short-sighted move: customers become jaded when their favorite followers start donning full, and fully-paid-for, looks.

“We used to have more power because we had a strong and direct relationship with our audiences,” says Charrière, “but as influencers gained more power, they also got more greedy.” Influencers, says Charrière, started to work to satisfy brands in order to get more access, which has given brands all the power, often to the detriment of the audience.

What’s in it for me?

A publicist friend tells me that brands want influencers in full looks even though mixed-and-matched outfits are more interesting for audiences. The whole point, after all, is for the brand to leverage attendees and create a ‘moment’ around their shows. “What is the brand supposed to do with an image where someone isn’t in a full look? They can’t use it,” says the publicist.

The entirety of the front row at Chloé’s autumn 2024 show wearing the same pair of clogs.JULIEN DE ROSA/Getty Images

The article is in Czech

Tags: Brands influencers holds power


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