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What came first: The Followers or the Following?

The gateway to becoming a force in fashion has always been narrow. Not only is a mastery of technique and tailoring a necessity, but an infinite sea of fabrics, brand monikers, and philosophies must be sifted through to find a combination that stands out and stands alone. Then, of course, follows the huge, ever-growing influence of social media - call it “the Kendall effect,” as Vogue magazine has with ease, citing Kendall Jenner’s impact with over 57 million Instagram followers. Not a bad promotional vehicle for the new Kendall + Kylie fashion brand that launched this spring. 

Which poses a question for the anonymous designer: Is a plush social following the new ticket to design success?

Historically, trends have been dictated by celebrities and high-society types, who set the fashion pace through appearances in cinema, television, magazines, newspapers (and more recently, on social media). It’s a given that they generate that “gotta have it” factor, leaving us pining for a particular Balmain dress or a track jacket worn just so.

Of course, there are endless examples of fashion lines by celebrities and supermodels—some of the newer entries include Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James brand, Kate Hudson’s Fabletics athleisure line, Ellen Degeneres’ ED by Ellen, the aforementioned Kendall + Kylie, and model Gigi Hadid’s Gigi by Tommy Hilfiger line, due out this fall.

With Instagram and Snapchat tapping their way into our cultural epicenter, doesn’t it make sense that influencers not only wear the most popular designs, but create them, too?

This premise is one of the strategies behind Designow—a platform that enables influencers with large social media followings to be paired with designers in order to create styles tailor-made for their audience or for emerging designers to gain more social media fashion traction.

“We’re in a time right now where the ‘social media model’ as Gigi Hadid calls it, is everything. Social media models are becoming entrepreneurs, and there is nothing wrong or questionable about it,” says 21-year-old Canadian-born, L.A.-based blogger, Youtuber and model Sonya Esman. 

If a label doesn’t have an A-list personality attached to it in a design aspect, they most likely use a famous face to front the ad campaign or, as Esman reminds us, to endorse the product.

“I don't imagine it would hurt anyone to come into the industry with a following; [those who assume not are] perhaps still stuck in the old generation,” says Esman. “Times are changing and it's incredibly exciting for the youth.”

The lesson? Make noise. Be unapologetically noticed. And participate in platforms like Designow that promote visibility. Because these strategic moves are paying off for so many rising design stars.

All images provided by: Jonas Gustavsson/Fashionactive

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