What is their relationship really like?
Before I knew I wanted to be a writer, I wanted to be an influencer. If you look back at my Instagram posts from spring 2021 through February of this year, you’ll see a string of fashion posts. I was convinced I was going to become a fashion influencer. That was until I realized the harsh realities of how (most) fashion influencers make their money through working with fast fashion brands and promoting overconsumption.
Ways influencers promote fast fashion & overconsumption
Perhaps the most obvious example of influencers promoting overconsumption is fast fashion hauls. We see these everywhere, from TikTok to YouTube to Instagram. Brands pay influencers money to show viewers collections of clothing in the hopes that the viewers are inspired to buy these items. Most of the time, hauls are promoting these fast fashion brands- Princess Polly, Shein, BooHoo, and PrettyLittleThing. Viewers are often convinced these clothing items are necessary to complete their wardrobes and are also given a special coupon code as an added incentive to shop.
Amazon Storefront is another big money maker for influencers. Being one of the biggest e-commerce giants, it is no surprise that Amazon is linked to overconsumption. Through the Amazon Influencer Program, influencers build a storefront containing their favorite products, recommend said products to their followers, then get monetary compensation whenever someone buys an Amazon product using their personalized URL. Influencers’ commission ranges from 1-10% depending on the product and they typically bring in anywhere from a few dollars to $1,500 each month. Making money by having people shop your storefront seems like a pretty good gig.
Why influencers promote fast fashion & overconsumption
The reality is that in order to make enough money to create content full time, (most) influencers need to work with fast fashion brands and promote spending money at those stores. If you love fashion and want to inspire others to embrace their personal style, yet still need to bring in a good monthly income to support yourself, working with fast fashion brands seems like a no brainer. To succeed in this digital space, working with fast fashion brands is essentially necessary. Some influencers may even really like the clothes they promote and get a lot of wear out of them, but at the same time they are still promoting overconsumption to their followers.
What can be done?
An idealistic solution would be for fast fashion brands to get their act together. These brands are the ones responsible for unsustainable practices, unethical treatment of workers, and stealing designs from small artists. In a dream world, fast fashion brands would evolve into sustainable, slow fashion brands. Since that is not likely, what can influencers do to make a change?
Finding a balance between promoting clothes/shopping and informing followers about the harms of overconsumption is the way to go. One influencer who truly executes this balance perfectly is Laini Ozark. She posts fashion videos on YouTube that incorporate the idea of being a conscious consumer. Her “trends I don’t like” videos teach viewers that it’s okay to sit out trends that don’t align with your personal style. Laini is also very selective of which brands she works with and collaborates with a mix of sustainable and “regular” brands. When collaborating with fast fashion brands like Princess Polly, Laini takes a unique approach. Instead of showing a giant haul, she shows Princess Polly items she already has in her closet that she loves and gets good wear out of.
It is a tricky situation where influencers must choose between bringing in an income while promoting overconsumption or avoiding fast fashion but not making enough money to create content full time. Until fast fashion brands step up, the Laini Ozark approach of promoting a balance of consumption and being a conscious shopper is the way to go.
And with that, I will see you next Saturday with another fashion post.
hey it's Steffi, and this is my website where I post fashion, travel, and lifestyle blog posts. Enjoy!