Digital Domination: The Luxury Brands Scrambling to Work with Influencers
When thinking of brands that work with influencers, names such as Pretty Little Thing and Morphe come to mind. These brands have built their entirely around millennial culture and the biggest stars within it.
However, the tide is shifting and nowadays luxury brands are starting to make their own space within the influencer marketing industry. Choosing to collaborate with both top models and a number of well-known social media icons, these designer labels are looking for a new way to appeal to a younger demographic and add a fresh face to their brand image.
In 2019, the most revered names from the world of fashion are lining up to work with this new brand of celebrity. For many, this isn’t an obvious choice as sometimes luxury brands appear to hold so much power and social prestige that they would only ever consider working with the finest A-list talent.
Whilst this may have been the case in previous years, today this outlook is changing with even the biggest labels having to adjust to this increasingly digitally-centric world and the value it places on online media.
The first major designers to take the bold step into the influencer stratosphere were none other than Italian icons Dolce and Gabanna. At their 2017 catwalk show, they chose Instagram stars such as Cameron Dallas and Marcus Butler to strut down the catwalk. Ever since then, legions of legendary names have followed suit.
Speaking to The Drum, branding expert strategist Samantha Gabriel from Underscore elaborated on why this narrative is increasingly becoming the norm, she said: “Influencer marketing has changed the industry landscape and luxury brands such as fashion designers have implemented a strategy of inviting potential brand ambassadors to their shows to enhance their ‘must have’ credentials”.
So, with this in mind, who’s working with who and what role does the social media influencer play in the progression of luxury brands for the next generation in the 21st Century?
Here are some of the biggest designer and influencer collabs that have formed so far.
Emma Chamberlain X Louis Vuitton
Since Nicholas Ghesquiere took the helm at Louis Vuitton womenswear in 2014, the last few years have seen a noticeable shift in the brand’s overall aesthetic. The once heritage-focused leather company has undergone a seismic shift into a young and desirable label, most recently this has involved working with influencers.
In a move that surprised many, the Paris-based brand contacted 17-year-old American vlogger Emma Chamberlain to promote its wares on their Instagram Stories and YouTube channel. Whilst they had worked with traditional fashion bloggers in a limited capacity before, this move was very clearly geared towards resonating with a younger age group.
With Statista reporting that 92% of marketers value Instagram as the most important social media platform, it makes sense that such a big brand would collaborate with one of the platform’s biggest stars to create content. Although some were left scratching their heads because of her tender age, many argued that she isn’t selling directly so much as making the brand desirable for future generations.
This works because social media influencers are the young icons of today. Whilst prior generations looked up to film and music stars, today’s youth primarily admire YouTubers and Instagram leaders.
Dior X In The Frow
Dior have been keen to work with smaller fashion-based influencers in recent seasons, choosing to showcase the brand’s values through those that live and breathe style to a niche audience. Opting to not work with the biggest names, Dior have made ambassadors out of smaller bloggers such as In The Frow.
With a PhD, background in lecturing and refined sense of style, Victoria is the perfect embodiment of Maria Grazia’s modern Dior woman, so using her to convey the brand to a targeted segment on social media was a perfectly calculated move from the iconic fashion house.
And the adoration is seemingly mutual, speaking about the brand on her blog, the influencer said: “It’s the fashion brand that I would wear to bed, if I could. The brand that inspired me the most and that I dreamed of wearing when I was back in my teens. And now, I see myself as one of their #DiorGirls”.
This is an example of a luxury brand doing influencer marketing their way. Rather than creating a garish campaign with names that are more often associated with Forever 21, they have chosen to take a selected number of bloggers into their fold, inviting them to Fashion Week, exclusive events and sending them individually chosen garments for their sponsored posts.
Proof that influencer marketing can be a thoroughly grown-up and elegant choice.
Maddie Ziegler X Tiffany and Co.
Tiffany is a brand more associated with Hollywood than Dance Moms, still, this hasn’t stopped the luxury jeweller from partnering with dancer-turned-influencer Maddie Ziegler on a variety of campaigns.
Speaking on the partnership via her Twitter Maddie said, “Being part of this @TiffanyAndCocampaign with Elle Fanning is a dream come true”.
Welcoming her on board as one of the faces of the brand alongside more traditional celebrities, Tiffany have chosen to fuse social media elements into their traditional marketing mix via adding some younger faces to their ambassador line up.
Maddie is the perfect choice to prove that Tiffany is a brand for every age group and for every stage of life. Whether that’s a Tiffany Heart on a 21st birthday, an engagement ring or an anniversary necklace, she represents the younger more playful side of the brand.
Aimee Song X Jimmy Choo
As one of Instagram’s biggest fashion influencers, she has been a pioneer in the move made by luxury brands towards working with social media’s biggest faces. Using her Instagram as more of a visual journal than in the traditional communicative sense, her edits and photography rival the likes of Harpers Bazaarin their calibre. Therefore, it was little surprise that Jimmy Choo used the style maverick for their first foray into the influencer marketing world.
Travelling to India with Jimmy Choo, Aimee was snapped wearing her favourite shoes from the collection in a variety of stunning locations. The concept wasn’t that far removed from a traditional shoot, just adapted to the social media format.
The Jimmy Choo image was actually enriched by doing this, helping to create a narrative for the brand that goes beyond the restraints of mediums such as a magazine advertisement. And as for Song herself? The partnership was the jewel in the crown of an illustrious and digitally-based fashion career. An ideal match!
Luxury brands are still going to fill the pages of Vogue with their glossy images but are simultaneously realising that they need a digital element within their marketing mix to both cement their relevancy and to allow the next generation to fall in love with their brand story.
So often social media is seen as the death of traditional print advertising and other similar forms of marketing but this needn’t be the case for brand communications. Instead, digital platforms and their wealth of influencers are there to enrich marketing efforts, speak to the right consumers and put a face to a brand that is often otherwise deemed intimidating.
Luxury brands and influencers are still a match made in heaven!