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The Face of New York Fashion Week Has Changed For Good


By Sedge Beswick, MD of global influencer marketing specialists SEEN Connects (https://seenconnects.com/

Image credit: Instagram @NYFW & @Moeez

For a while there, the streets of New York in February were cold, quiet, and desperately missing its biannual splash of glamour. As Fashion Weeks around the world return to their pre-pandemic swing, with it a throng of new faces will be scoring seats in the front row. 

TikTok, which reported more traffic than Google in 2021, has single-handedly ushered in a flock of new influencers. The surge in popularity reflects the exponential rise of my industry, influencer marketing, which is expected to be worth $15B by the close of 2022.

For decades, Fashion Week was an exclusive club, occupied by editors, buyers and a peppering of celebrities. Since the dawn of Web 2.0 – it was reported this week that 58% of the global population now use social media – the face of Fashion Week has fundamentally shifted. 

Coupled with the decline in print media’s power and the blurring of lines between celebrities and platform creators, influencers now shape how, when and via which platforms we receive fashion news. In turn, brands are turning over their coverable front rows to influencers who may take up just one seat, but whose network of followers can be in the millions.  

Their power to tap into a community with a single post has deep impacts for a brand on many levels. Beyond the obvious gains – like reaching a new engaged audience, leveraging the authenticity of an influencer’s personal platform and upping a brand’s mentions on social – influencers bring an immediacy to Fashion Week coverage. 

The best influencers are highly relatable and with whom audiences easily identify and trust when it comes to product endorsements. This explains why, 49% of consumers say they depend on influencer recommendations. For many followers, engaging with an influencer’s content unlocks the doors to NYFW, they get to see beyond the keyhole and share the experience and glamour of the first look at a new collection or the raucousness of a post-show party.  

A recent study revealed that the return to a physical New York Fashion Week last September secured almost $244M in Media Impact Value for brands. This coincided with more influencers than ever attending the shows. It was reported that social media visibility of fashion week content was up 20% across the period.

Incorporating influencers into marketing plans for NYFW begins early for brands. Influencer marketing and PR teams will draw up a list of names – who do they want at the show and who they want to dress. They’ll tailor experiences to each influencer, which will create a slew of shareable content that may begin days before the first look debuts on the runway. Brands also secure influencers through always-on ambassador programs, which build long-term relationships that last beyond a single Fashion Week.

Influencer-generated publicity is incredibly lucrative – the market is projected to grow to $15B this year.  Working in conjunction with influencers gives brands access to millions of fashion-invested consumers who trust their product recommendations. The hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt has over 4.1B views with 42% of users saying they use TikTok to discover new things and 67% saying TikTok has introduced them to products they had never thought of before. Just look at Bottega for instance, a brand that at the start of 2021 was valued at €3.97B. It might have shuttered its Instagram account, but it hasn’t stopped its influencer partnerships, it now relies on creators and fan accounts to promote the brand on different platforms.

The constant drumbeat of influencer content across TikTok, Insta, Twitter, Snap, and Pinterest has democratised fashion. It’s even changed the way that we shop. According to Mastercard, 43% of Britons have shopped more through social media in the past year. Shopping for clothes and fashion made up 41% of purchases through social media. Creators have changed the way we find fashion and how we shop it. Not only do they give a multi-lens perspective on shows, they have a fundamental impact on a brand’s earnings. 

As Vogue Business reported: Danish-label Saks Potts won an earned media value of only $176K in August 2020 compared to $469K the year before, purely due to a lack of influencers at their Copenhagen Fashion Week event. The knock-on effect? The brand suffered losses. Go figure. 

With thanks to Sedge Beswick (pictured left), MD of global influencer marketing specialists SEEN Connects (https://seenconnects.com/

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