Fashion blogs started because girls wanted to show off their personal style. We had super polished glossies, overdone ad campaigns, and well-styled celebs on the red carpet. But where were the real girls? Wearing real clothes that didn’t cost thousands of dollars? Somewhere along the way, brands started noticing, and sending newly influential names free products. Suddenly every blogger had on the same Tibi skirt, was carrying the same Kate Spade bag, and sporting a pair of Karen Walker shades. It didn’t matter—they still pushed product in an unprecedented way.
Lord & Taylor noticed, and hand-picked (and paid) style influencers to share images of themselves all in the same handkerchief paisley patterned dress from the newly debuted Design Lab collection. “The program was designed to introduce Design Lab to this customer where she is engaging and consuming content every day,” said Lord & Taylor CMO Michael Crotty. “The goal was to make her stop in her feed and ask why all her favorite bloggers are wearing this dress and what is Design Lab? Using Instagram as that vehicle is a logical choice, especially when it comes to fashion.”
Their savvy business decision paid off: Lord & Taylor’s hand-picked ‘grammers leverage a large expanse of the target consumer market of 18- to 35-year-olds. The strategically chosen participants range in follower amounts of about 50,000 at the lowest and 1.4 million at the highest (Luanna Perez), with most averaging about 500,000. With the posts appropriately hashtagged (#cute, #selfie, #fashion, #chic, #glam, to name a few), potential reach is even more prolific. Most ‘grams accumulated at least 1,000 likes and the fashion unicorn Perez (@luanna90) received more than 80,000. So on point was the Lord & Taylor campaign that the dress sold out in less than a week (no Kate Middleton-effect, but still impressive).
Lord & Taylor’s strategy is one that many other brands are attempting to master. With about 70 million photos uploaded each day, 300 million active monthly users, and 25 times higher engagement than any other social media platform, the site is one that companies are attempting to tap effectively. Social sites, in general, are cost-effective for exponential scope, and people are using it to shop more than ever before, in essence transforming the way the world makes purchases.
While there’s nothing new about a brand being in bed with Instagram, the site’s lack of direct linking capabilities has made proving direct sales correlation pretty difficult. Consumers crave credibility and bypass ads that are too obvious in their commercial goals. Influencers, on the other hand, are much more authentic. “Personality is selling clothes more so than anything else right now,” Mary Alice Stephenson, a style and beauty expert and the founder of Glam4Good, tells Yahoo Style. She explains that Instagram has given products a voice, and created business opportunities for the people who wear them. We’re living in the revolution of personal style, bloggers themselves are becoming much more savvy, and partnering with companies like Lord & Taylor is a win-win — and an added bonus for the shopper because accessibility is greater. “It’s instant engagement which makes the consumer feel more involved in the brand,” she says. “It’s a personal choice whether they want to partake in that or not.”
The articles themselves are certainly important, but it’s the person wearing them that makes the items fly off shelves. Instagram, more than any other site, has given fashion a story: outfits are just the start, but the person wearing the look, styling it, captioning it, bestows a narrative upon each piece, and contributes to a larger conversation. It’s been said before, but the fashion industry in particular was controlled and dictated by an elite group of editors, until social media blew it up. “It can be a mom in middle america, it can be a style influencer like me, or it can be Gigi Hadid,” Stephenson says of the new influencers. “I don’t look at ads anymore, I look at people that I love that are trusted voices.” And for most millennial girls with an interest in fashion, that’s bloggers.