The New Class

It’s obvious to see how much social media has changed the world of fashion over the last decade.

Major agencies are now showing the number of followers on their boards, the stipulations and major contracts now all include clauses for social media.

This internet thing doesn’t exactly look like it’s slowing down, so what does it mean for the modeling industry?

What’s happening?

There’s a shifting power balance in terms of what talent is being represented in online advertising.

We’re seeing a massive shift in the faces companies seek to represent their brand and they seem to be pulling from 3 different tribes.

1. The Model — The OGs

2. The Insta-Famous — Social media accounts that have hit a staggering amount of followers, yet are still developing a voice.

3. The Influencers — The belles of the internet Yule Ball. They have created an audience that will trust them enough to help make purchasing decisions.

What?

Like many things creative, modeling is driven by two usually opposing forces.

Commerce VS Art

Lets examine commerce first. For years brands have been unable to accurately track the success of advertisements. Television, radio, publications have used loose metrics to determine how engaging their content is and what success of these campaigns look like.

With social media, every interaction, every click and engagement can be tracked. Through all of the hearts, the thumbs ups or favorites, it ultimately comes down to — How much does it cost to get someone to click through and purchase a product?

It leads into questions like, ‘Can this person that is being hired to add to the value of my brand? How much? How little?’

Will these individuals drive purchases? If so — Where? In which region? How often?

But it seems like everyone is turning so quickly to the influencers and the insta-famous?

They are, but at the moment, retailers are having trouble discerning between who is a true influencer and who is considered instafamous.

We should remember that not all followers or subscribers are born equal. An individual following an influencer may have a different profile from someone considered instafamous. Why? Because of the influencers ability to… well, influence purchases, beyond a picture.

As the tools to understand true engagement become more accessible, so will the behavior of the clients. Having 10k followers that can be influenced can have much more meaning than 100k of bots/fake followers.

But they’re still getting paid. What up with that?

Not for long.

It’s becoming expensive. Very expensive to hire the right ambassadors and talent. Right now the use of influencers is still seen as a growth hack. The cost to use these influencers will continue to rise. As the tools used to measure the success of influencer campaigns improve, their decisions with who to use will become increasingly limited and focused.

I’m a model. Does that mean I’m being phased out?

No.

As much as fashion is a business, it is also an art. The power shifts dramatically towards the models for campaigns not solely foced on online marketing.

Along with being vetted by the fashion community, I find that the traditional fashion model’s options to transition to an influencer expands as their careers grow.

The real question is whether or not a model wants to participate in this social media culture.

The truth is, I’m sure everyone knows the type of posts on Instagram that get followers. But it’s not for everyone.

It’s not hard to see why certain people have followers, whether it’s the content or the company they keep. Why they have so many followers isn’t the question.

The real question to ask is, do I want to be the person that posts this type of content. If the answer is yes, then perfect. Get to work. If the answer is no, then there I think there is some soul searching to do. It will take time, but I think this will be an important step to the future of modeling.

I think influencers are leading the way to something very cool. I believe social media pushes the modeling industry in a way that, instead of waiting in line waiting to be chosen, models can have the power and voice to create a brand for themselves and choose the clients they wish to represent. Something a small number of talent have been able to create for themselves.

The fashion industry is changing rapidly and with that the shape of a model’s career. I thought it would be a cool place to occasionally ramble about where I think things are moving. I