The Fashion Magazine vs The influencer
– by Shaunamay Martin Bohan
In the early 2000s fashion magazines like Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Elle had a grip on the public’s opinion on what to wear (and more importantly what not to wear). Glossy, high saturated pages gave you all the latest celebrity looks, along with gossip and life advice. Nowadays, most fashion magazines have moved online either as a whole or at least in part and have half as many readers compared to the 90s and 00s. Instead of the Fashion Editor, the world has turned to a new source of style inspiration: the Influencer. There are many reasons the fashion magazine has lost its hype including the problematic advice and out of date fashion rules it promoted and Influencers are taking to social media to right their wrongs.
One of the notable factors fashion magazines lack today is relatability. Fashion magazines show us high glam, professionally shot photographs featuring ‘perfect’ looking, photoshopped models, far from the life of a viewer who bought their copy in a local Tesco. In contrast to this, social media creates a sense of commonality between the Influencer and the influenced through interactions and sharing of their day to day life with their audience. Audiences can watch an influencer grow their platform and develop their own style originally and organically.This builds trust between the two parties regarding what to wear, between follower and influencer in a way that impersonal, large-scale magazines cannot grasp.
Additionally Influencers create a kind of persona that coincides with their fashion sense. They build a fantasy world that is closer to real life than an avant garde fashion shoot. Audiences trust their favourite influencers opinions like they would a friend. Influencers can give their followers the impression that certain clothes will come along with a certain lifestyle or “vibe”, which in itself is something fashion magazines have been doing for decades. A pinch of the aspirational is great, but when is it too much?
Fashion magazines’ approach to inclusivity and representation of body image is another factor that led to their decline in power. In the nineties and noughties, there was a strict view on beauty, fuelled by the glossy magazines of the time. There was one simple message: pretty is skinny. This shined through in fashion magazines as we saw predominately thin models on every page.They also took to comparing women who wore the same clothing in insulting ‘Who Wore It Best” sections,often claiming the skinnier woman was the winner or ‘more fashionable’. Fashion magazines focused their advice strictly towards skinnier people, completely disregarding the plus size community, although, influencers arent perfect when it comes to this topic, they’re certainly making a difference in how we view body image and fashion. Influencers such as Barbie Feirrea and Gabi Fresh are avid advocates for body positivity/neutrality while inspiring their audience to be confident and dress bold regardless of their body type.
Finally influencers are breaking the fashion rules magazines set oh so long ago. While fashion magazines suggest that one particular style is what’s ‘hot’, influencers emphasise their own personal style. No matter where you are in the world, you can find someone online who discusses your kind of style, whether that’s goth, preppy, parisan or a little bit of everything! In the heyday of the fashion magazine, fashion fanatics were restricted to the styles printed in western magazines, however now, influencers across the globe express their cultural styles for everyone to see. There are even fashion influencers who encourage sustainability and teach their followers how to shop second hand and style vintage pieces according to personality and use.
Influencers are also becoming extremely favoured by clothing brands in comparison to their industrial advertising counterparts. By 2018, 87% of clothing brands in Europe and the United Staes had invested in influencer marketing, according to the Business of Fashion. According to Dive brief, 72 percent of Millennials claim Instagram photos influence their fashion and beauty purchases. it’s clear from this, that fashion influencers definitly have powder in the Stylespiration game.
The modern day fashion influencer is what the fashion magazine was in the early 2000s. Physical magazine sales have dropped significantly and some magazines have stopped being produced on paper all together, such as Teen Vogue in 2017 or Glamour magazine. The physical copies are outdated and the fashion magazines’ transition to online hasn’t been a smooth one. It’s clear that major magazine publishers such as Condé Nast have recognised their decline in popularity as Vogue US unwisely stated in 2016 that influencers were “pathetic” “desperate”and “heralding the death of style”. The age of the internet has reduced the magazine industry’s defining grasp on the public, allowing for personal style and creativity to gain prominence.