London’s Fashion Week was, of course, an online sensation. Even if you’re not interested in any of it, avoiding mention of this coming Spring’s top looks required effort. And that’s because those involved in the Fashion Week are promotional pros, with powerful influencers among them.
Participants’ collective reach was set to dwarf other online mentions, much like award shows or popular TV series finales. We certainly took note of its trending conversations and captured insight that can inform any brand’s future marketing efforts!
So, in entirely random order, we’re sharing 15 notable fashion influencers who understand the art of audience engagement. Emulating the audience understanding each demonstrates will help transform any brand into a category fashionista, of sorts. It will certainly help you keep some trending topics top-of-mind as you investigate target segments’ online sentiment!
To kick it off, we noted that many of these fashion-forward folks are advocates for larger issues around social change, of which there are sub-categories.
Positive Fashion at London Fashion Week
Supporting social change and the environment is a hot trend right now – and one that isn’t likely to go away. And social change goes beyond just environmental concerns though. It’s also about helping people in manufacturing communities who would not typically be recognized for their contributions. Both Alisa Ruzavina and Pjoys seek to change that.
Alisa Ruzavina’s work focuses on encouraging the industry to adopt a co-design mentality that cares for the environment. Her sustainability-driven approach has her using only discarded and organic sources in her fashions. And her collaborative collection “Stories from the Faraway Land: Armila” was one of her efforts on display in London, showcases pieces fully co-designed with a local community from Guna Yala, Panama, and tagged in her Instagram posts.
And if this sounds like “upcycling” to you, it sure is! We’ll get to that more in a moment. First, another Fashion Positive Influencer deserves recognition – Pjoys.
This is a pyjama brand with a passion for spreading mental health awareness and making it part of everyday conversation. “Using the symbolism of the PJ day, often happy and sometimes sad, Pjoys creates gender neutral organic cotton pyjama sets . . . made from organic cotton, designed in London and produced by a family run team in Portugal who have been crafting garments for three generations.”
And with every purchase, the company donates to Samaritans.
Now, back to upcycling, as we have at least two influencers laser-focused on the process – RE;CODE and Ahluwalia Studio. And online approves, as “sustainable fashion” is a top trending term:
Upcycling & Sustainable Fashion from Influencers
RE;CODE was launched in 2012 in response to fashion industry overstock that’s either discarded or incinerated. RE;CODE decided to launch an eco-conscious brand to revitalize outdated but perfectly good unsold inventory. And they show upcycling in action on their YouTube channel, with DIY demonstrations:
Ahluwalia Studio shows the stark reality of fashion discards. After having discovered the existence of Panipat, known as “cast-off city,” where people live among mountain ranges of discarded textiles, she committed herself to practicing fashion in environmentally non-damaging ways.
And as much as there are audiences for this humble approach to life, irreverence is paradoxically big online. Huge. And irreverent brands capture the hearts and minds of consumers just as often as the environmentalists do.
Fashion Influencers’ Irreverent Branding
Though nothing new, being able to “stick it” to whomever thinks you should fail is a popular sentiment online. And online culture has added a new twist to it in recent years, making bold displays of success or “flexing” on others popular. And influencers have caught on to the trend.
It’s a strange dichotomy though, as they’re also typically very socially conscious, but with excessive consumerism on display.
House of Holland speaks to all of this. Henry Holland, the business’ namesake, became known initially for his slogan tshirts featuring catchphrases such as “uhu gareth pugh” and “get your freak on giles deacon”. And now he can be found answering fans’ questions on Instagram, with a nod to both saving the environment and doing what he wants by buying countless pairs of glasses. Austerity be damned. Irreverence for the win.
Air of Exclusivity a Common Fashion Week Theme
Though far from irreverent, the House of Temperley offers sentiment similar to as House of Holland by way of posh exclusivity:
It’s bohemian, confident, British and dripping with delicately crafted embellishments. Offering bespoke and ready-to-wear styles in its High Street shops, the designs are a bit beyond the typical budget and evidently worth it.
The same can be said for well-known Burberry, offering styles priced from just beyond what’s affordable for most, to entirely impossible.
It’s Burberry and exclusive though, so the masses are left to dream.
And can there be a discussion about fashion that’s “posh” without bringing Posh Spice, aka Victoria Beckham into the mix? But the buzz wasn’t really about her clothes so much as her new beauty line, which she chose to launch during fashion week.
It’s a #cleanbeauty line that’s committed to being #crueltyfree. Online sentiment certainly approves.
But why didn’t this former singer/dancer not hosting experiential dance off events to promote her clothes and makeup? (Note to Beckham: get on that for next time!). Fortunately, at least one brand was hip to how viral audience experiences can be . . .
Experiential Fashion Events
Anya Hindmarch is known for her spectacular promotional events.
Once inside the maze, visitors discovered a series of recordings of writings capturing a range of emotions and global events.
It captured and created an emotional – and serious – connection with its audience. And that was in sharp contrast to the bold and outlandish imaginings of Dame Zandra, who we’ll speak to next! She’s nothing if not consistent in her approach though. And that is a tactic every brand should adopt.
Consistent Branding Key to Influencers’ Longevity
Being “on brand” is super important – and a designer that demonstrates this to an extreme is Dame Zandra Rhodes. Having been in fashion for more than 50 years now, she shows no sign of slowing down and is just as colorful and unique as her clothing styles. Her signature style is unique, yet consistent, and stands the test of time because of it.
And Stephen Jones Millinery is cut from a similar cloth. Described as “adding the exclamation mark to every fashion statement,” Jones is known for “making millinery seem modern and compelling. In materials that were often radical, and in designs that ranged from refined to whimsical, his exquisitely crafted, quixotic hats encapsulated the fashion mood of the moment.”
He’s been in business for forty years and continues to attract a celebrity clientele which includes, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Mick Jagger, and Royalty. Can you see why? He understands how to take his designs to the edge without crossing over into something unworkable. That’s audience understanding that most brands do not have 40 years to capture. Social listening gets you up to speed in much less time.
Similarly, Supriya Lele’s looks capture an ethnic mingling that’s intentional, on brand, and entirely who she is, as it’s powered by her own unique point of view.
Combining her Indian heritage and British cultural identity, she creates form-fitting, ready-to-wear cross-cultural pieces. Although they may not have the same flair as Jones’ hats or the flash evident in every Rhodes’ piece, Lele’s creations are uniquely her own.
But none of these looks can stand alone.
Accessories Make the Fashion Influencers’ Look
Stephen Webster’s jewelry designs are in top demand all around the world. Like Postbox, he hosted an interactive display during London’s Fashion Week. But he also added the most important – and category capturing accessory of all: a sterling silver reusable straw designed to reduce plastic waste.
His rings, brooches and earrings are amazing, and were on full display during the week, but you can bet the straw generates the most buzz, considering.
What adjacencies can you uncover, accessories of some sort, that could work well with your brand? Maybe you share a target audience, one that isn’t entirely obvious. Find that “pickle juice connection” to help you win in your category.
Opposite of exclusive, we find brands that are accessible and inclusive, like RIXO.
Fashion Influencers Focused on Inclusivity
RIXO seeks to evoke a wanderlust and free spirit in all of their wearers, with a focus on size inclusivity. And they showcase this commitment in their marketing, with a page devoted to promoting user generated content from followers (though the pieces look pretty polished, so some professionally photography was likely added in here as a bonus).
Their “Humans of RIXO” shares the stories of a variety of women, ranging from those just starting their careers and facing various struggles to established professionals sharing tidbits from their TED Talks.
Similarly, since its beginning in 2016, ROKER has been revitalising British footwear, by offering “non-binary shoes subverting traditional styles and made using techniques favoured by bespoke shoemakers.”
The eccentric, bespoke shoe brand describes itself as, “she, he and ze.” And the stories its audience could share, should it choose to tap into it, like RIXO, could offer epic promotional possibilities.
What stories could your audience tell while wearing your clothes or using your products? What emotions, attributes and brands and things they’re talking about in relation to your brand? And are there popular hashtags or terms that provide context clues?
This season, we saw K-Pop capture quite a bit of buzz with #KillThisLove by #BlackPink and one of its singers, #Jisoo trending more than once.
Pretty much anything she wore would have been of interest to followers.
Imagine having her partner with a upcycling brand to promote sustainability? Something like that could disrupt fast fashion with a quickness.
Understanding Online to Capture Adjacencies
And that’s the point, really. There are so many opportunities for brand to stir up a category, differentiators that are offered up online every day, but many brands miss them. And influencers do too. You can partner with the most influential folks ever, but if they aren’t “on brand” and authentically getting your message out, you’ve wasted effort – and likely lots of money too!
Next Generation Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered social analytics ensures brand have all the intel they need to inform bold, creative decision-making. You can be certain these influencers aren’t part of fashion week because they followed the pack. Reach out and we’ll show you how to strut your particularly amazing offerings online and off.