Social Media Influencers or Celebrities, Which Nod Brings More Value?

                      Image courtesy of

Fashion is never static. And that can be a good thing. One season ruffles could be the big trend and the next season boxy shoulders and oversized jackets could be trending. The mercurial nature of fashion is expected and constant. What is not a constant, particularly in this age of technology is a fashion brand maintain and expanding its consumer base.For the past few decades, some fashion designers/brands have looked to celebrities to expand the brand’s market viability. Over twenty years ago, Elizabeth Hurley wore Versace safety pin dress, known as “THAT Dress,” demonstrating that when a popular celebrity wears a designer’s garment, the combination can give the brand more market viability. (Elizabeth Hurley was becoming an A-list celebrity with starring roles in “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and “Passenger 57.” The safety pin dress helped make Hurley and Versace household names.) Lady Gaga helped further catapult Alexander McQueen to fame by wearing many of his custom designs. And Madonna increased Jean-Paul Gaultier popularity by wearing his cone bra on her ‘Blond Ambition’ tour.

    Lady Gaga in Alexander McQueen image courtesy of, Elizabeth Hurley in  Versace image courtesy of, and Madonna in Jean-Paul Gaultier image courtesy    of

Lately, Fashion Reverie and many fashion publications are pondering a difficult question: does a celebrity nod still bring value to fashion brands? That depends on how you pose the question or whose opinion matters.Some fashion brands opinions are changing as they continue to turn their attention more towards digital and social media influencers. In a recent article in WWD, it was revealed that eighty percent of brand collaborations for the first half of 2017 were co-ventures with influencers, not celebrities. As influencers continue to gain followings as large, or even in some cases larger than celebrities, companies have shifted their marketing dollars.

Images of Hailee Steinfield for Miu Miu spring 2011, Rihanna for Balmain fall 2014, and Jennifer Lawrence for Dior fall 2015 courtesy of,, and, respectively

That isn’t to say that celebrity presence has disappeared entirely, or that these fashion design houses will ever stop dressing celebrities, but there is a cultural and economic shift in marketing. Where some years back, A-list actress would be the first choice for store campaign, fashion brands and some fashion houses have become much more interested in Instagram partnerships with bloggers and influencers who boast six and seven figure followings.This marketing business model concentrates on the relatable factor of influencers versus celebrities to younger consumers. However, this business model doesn’t always work or having staying power. When asked, Fashion Week and editorial stylist Anthony Leroux contends, “Balmain is one example of how [celebrities] run a brand. Look at what the Kardashians did [for] it. You can just put a face on a brand and call it a day. I don’t buy clothes because of a face, so I don’t care if it’s Beyoncé or Kendall [Jenner] up there. Celebrities dilute brands.”

     Kendall and Kylie Jenner in Balmain campaign image courtesy of

The truth is while most influencers give the impression of leading these normal, everyday lives, lives comparable to consumers, with a bit of fashion and glamour thrown in, many of them are highly compensated, and often come from affluent families or have accumulated their own wealth. As tight-lipped as the fashion industry is about the payout for collaborations and campaigns, it’s no secret these influencers are well compensated. According to a recent article in Forbes titled “Earning Power: Here’s How Much Top Influencers Can Make On Instagram And YouTube,” influencers can make up to $5000 per post, and up to $100,000 per campaign for Instagram. For Youtube, where beauty vloggers have found major influence, it’s even more, with rates going up to $300,000 for a video partnership.With the average worker earning $51, 939 yearly, the average social media influencer is earning more. Still, what is the return on investment (ROI) for these fashion brands?

           Images of influencers Chiar Ferragani, Bryan Boy, and Manny Mua courtesy of,, and, respectively

While most brands decline to reveal how much ROI they get from influencer collaborations, according to an April 2017 Forbes article “How To Measure The ROI of an Influencer Marketing Campaign,” influencer campaigns can net 11 times the ROI of banner ads when done correctly. Influencers are also at an advantage because they can work with multiple brands to build credibility.“If you become a face of a brand like Selena Gomez for Coach, you’ll see sales rise immediately after someone like that is signed,” said Alex D’Alessio, a New York City–based advertising art director. “However, an influencer has the power to sell more types of clothes from more than just one brand because they are not signed or contracted to an exclusive deal, so more brands can work with them. Those influencers can reach millions of people with different brands, rather than one celebrity signed to one brand where the majority of those interested are already consumers of that brand.”

Images clockwise courtesy of,, and, respectively

Though some fashion industry professionals might disagree, social media influencers have become the new celebrities. Especially, with some influencers being known by millions of people globally, and becoming the primary association with certain brands (Marcel Floruss at Hugo Boss, hello!). And while some of the old fashion guard might not feel influencers’ fire, they have become the new go-to. Social media is the new mall and Instagram is the new billboard.— Kristopher Fraser


  1. […] snarky. Kristopher tackled a subject that puzzles many folks in the fashion industry; the advent of social media influencers. Kristopher scored a hit with this article and we are glad he is on board!!8) Nobody writes about […]

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