Not to get watered down by Instagram hashtags but their creative vision at the fore, fashion expert Godson Ukaegbu agrees emerging brands don't need Instagram influencers!
Do emerging brands really need Instagram influencers when they are still struggling to find their feet?
Emerging fashion brands don't necessarily need fashion influencers when they are starting out and this isn't rocket science.
Instagram influencers are people who have garnered a following over time on Instagram. They 'promote' brands to their following for a fee mutually agreed on by them and the brand involved. The problem with this type of 'advertising' is that reach doesn't drive conversion on its own! it just creates an illusion of direct communication.
For an emerging brand looking to find its feet, paying an Instagram influencer shouldn't be the first point of call for brand building. The first is to work on the quality of pieces and the brand's image projected through it. It works at this point to have a muse- who doesn't have to be an 'Instagram champion', the ultimate purpose of this is to present the brand how it wants to be seen.
However fashion influencers can come at a point when the brand is way more stable (and this would have taken years to get the brand firm). These ones are fashion personalities whose opinion are reckoned with in the (fashion) industry. The 'real' ones have garnered a huge following over the years (not just on Instagram).
Over the years 'real' fashion influencers would have become highly respected, a FROW would be incomplete without them and their inputs in the industry would matter (in a perfect world). They would have a cult following that at the end of the day convert to sales (as should be).
In the present day, anyone who can take a good photo, pose in colourful clothes and over time record a following (even inactive ones) automatically becomes an influencer even without 'understanding' what it entails.
The influencer's blog is no doubt a potential avenue to place products but does this work here? Reports show that people way more likely to buy a product suggested to them by someone they trust (and because this person moves swiftly from a brand to other, they may not have earned that just yet) know, admire or generally have a kind of rapport with.
Instagram no doubt is the perfect fit for fashion because of its overtly visual features and this can be used to the brand's full advantage; sharing details of pieces, looks from the brand, on a muse that aligns with the brand's image and so on.
At the initial point…every point an 'Instagram Influencer' isn't the greatest person to tell the brand's story. More often than not that influencer's followers aren't the target audience? Or the influencer or his or image doesn't fit/allign with the brand? The worst has to be that influencer 'hawking' a brand now and another totally away from each other in the next minute, the essence is lost! (and so is the brand's image fast dissipating).
How you can you tell that following actually converts to sale or even the kind of exposure, insights/engagement that would benefit the brand? Slowly rising fashion brands don't need to pay influencers for their pieces to fly or the brand to be introduced.
Instagram is distinct in a way where its the perfect fashion playground so missing the effect it would have had would be grave.
Top stylist and style editor/editor of chief of Mania Magazine Godson Ukaegbu agrees an emerging brand doesn't need an Instagram Influencer; "I don't think when you are beginning you need an influencer, your designs have to be influential first before someone can be drawn to it. If you chase an influencer you might struggle. Work on your brand first and see how things come naturally". Ukaegbu however stressed the need to work with a good PR person to grow the brand.
Ultimately, emerging brand shouldn't get watered down by Instagram hashtags but their creative vision should be at the fore.