A version of this post first appeared on The Telegraph.
Supermodel Kendall Jenner generated 1.5 million likes in 12 hours on Instagram last week for an image of herself wearing Calvin Klein underwear.
An official tie up for the brand’s spring/summer 2016 #mycalvins campaign (which also features pop star Justin Bieber), two further shots she posted, including a video, each gained upward of 900,000 likes within a similar time frame.
Last month she did the same for Mango. Her buddy Gigi Hadid similarly posted shots for Versace and Stuart Weitzman. Cara Delevingne meanwhile, was ‘gramming live from the Chanel couture show.
Brands are increasingly enlisting influencers to help promote their wares on social media in a bid to appeal to new audiences and reach much higher numbers than would be possible through their own accounts. For fashion, Instagram is the playground of choice.
“It’s the ideal platform for fashion because of the fact we’re a completely visual industry,” says Caroline Homlish, a digital strategist who recently launched her own agency following senior positions at Chanel and Alexander McQueen. “In the past you would have flicked through a magazine to see all the editorials and the ads to know what was going on, now you just scroll down.” The beauty of it is being able to discover fashion in real-time, and influencers are really helping to shape that, she says.
“It’s the most democratic platform. Smaller brands like Self Portrait and Mansur Gavriel blew up on Instagram, and that was because of the fact they were being worn by the right sorts of influencers,” she adds.
Indeed, as consumers, 81% of us trust the opinions and recommendations of such individuals (and our friends) over that of a brand, according to research firm Nielsen.
Amber Venz Box, president and co-founder of blogger monetisation network rewardStyle, says Instagram users are increasingly looking for an option to buy what they see. “When you look at the comments on influencer’s photos on Instagram, they are filled with questions from ‘where did you buy that dress’ to ‘what lipstick are you wearing?’ People are always asking about the ready-to-shop information, but bloggers and celebrities almost never have time to respond and people are left to search for the items themselves,” she explains. She created LIKEtoKNOW.it, a service that emails you shoppable links when you like certain tagged looks on your Instagram feed, as a result.
But with over 80 million images and 3.5 billion likes hitting Instagram every day, knowing who to follow and who exactly counts as an “influencer” is becoming increasingly complex.
“We are definitely in a much more diverse and diffuse landscape,” says Leila Yavari, fashion director of StyleBop. “Five or 10 years ago, one could easily list five or six [individuals] who were having an impact at any given moment. Today there are so many more of these figures in play across a broad range of platforms and each of them has their own sphere of influence.”
For Homlish, identifying creativity is particularly important in the run up to fashion weeks. During the autumn/winter 2015 shows there were 121,000 images tagged #LFW to wade through. “The problem is, you’re often hard-pressed to find very much that’s interesting from those,” she says. “There are always a lot of blurry runway photos or shots of sets that are now designed to be Instagrammed. It gets very monotonous. Anyone doing something creative with their posts is going to stand out.”
So who’s worth knowing about right now on Instagram? Head over to The Telegraph where a full list of 15 top influencers lives.