Kaia Gerber, the daughter of the iconic supermodel Cindy Crawford, made her fashion week debut this season. The fanfare surrounding her was inevitable and her buzz has been slowly brewing for months now, starting when she was just fifteen and culminating in a walk down the runway for Calvin Klein, hailing the beginning of Kaia’s reign as the newest Insta-Girl in town. Gerber has her mother’s beauty, a classic All-American look that was re-popularized by the likes of Gigi Hadid who has been playing the role of the quintessential Californian blonde for the past five years. For every runway that Gerber walked down, dozens of Instagram posts were spawned. Kaia Gerber’s name has populated every fashion news outlet since the beginning of September. Her face has been on almost every brand’s social media. Really, her debut is one of the biggest that we have ever seen from an Instagram model who tend to just do one or two shows a season and get all of the attention in a clickbait-like fashion – e.g. Kendall Jenner’s debut season where she walked for Marc Jacobs and generated headlines for weeks to come. Gerber walked for Marc Jacobs, along with Prada, Chanel, and Alexander Wang, to just name a few. This is impressive, but not at all unexpected given her lineage.
Casting Director James Scully, most notable for shining light on Balenciaga’s poor casting practices last season, made some slightly contradictory comments about Gerber to WWD, saying that Gerber is getting many opportunities because she is such a beautiful girl, not because of her mother but later saying “lots of people who normally wouldn’t use a girl like her, they’re all using her. To be quite honest, Raf [Simons] wouldn’t use her. Half the shows she’s done, those people wouldn’t use her if she was just a beautiful girl off the street.”. He then adds “The thing about Kaia is…if Kaia were Kaia Gerber and she wasn’t Cindy’s daughter, I think the industry would be a lot meaner to her than they’re being”. The phenomenon of a nepotism model is nothing new in fashion, which is an industry based off of who you know. If Kaia’s debut season is anything to go by, she will be a supermodel before you know it. She is already being touted as one on Vogue’s YouTube account. It will be interesting to watch her star grow and to see the effect that it has on others in the industry afterwards. If Scully’s words are anything to go by, a new generation of “beautiful” girls are coming in where coolness is no longer a factor. He’s a name to trust and only time will tell if his prediction comes true.
Gerber’s surge into public consciousness coincides with the minor decline of the previous generation of Insta-Girls like the aforementioned Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, and Hailey Baldwin, who have all played a much less prominent role during the four fashion weeks than they ever have since their rise. Interestingly enough, it seems as if the previous generation are actively segueing down new avenues. The same thing happened when Jenner and Hadid became the top models – the previous troupe led by Cara Delevingne began to pursue different things, with Delevingne quitting modelling altogether to focus on acting.
So what will happen to the original Insta-Girl generation? Let’s look at the leaders of the pack. Gigi Hadid, having secured a lucrative and seemingly restrictive contract with Tommy Hilfiger, has taken a step back from the craziness of fashion month, choosing to walk in only a select few shows per city, skipping many of the major names that she is usually seen at. Instead she has been promoting the Tommy Hilfiger line which bears her name. During Milan Fashion Week, she was visiting Tommy Hilfiger’s Amsterdam HQ. Hadid’s line with Tommy has done wonders for the brand and has a high sell-through rate. The brand name is on the lips of teenagers across the world in a way that it hasn’t been since the 1990s. The demand for anything Gigi Hadid related is high, given her 35.9 million Instagram followers, many of whom have purchasing power that Tommy Hilfiger has chosen to tap into. As for Hadid, the collaboration with an iconic American brand gives her prestige, credibility, and a day-job besides modelling – an important asset when it comes to career longevity. In recent months, Hadid has also collaborated with Vogue Eyewear for a line of sunglasses and eyeglasses, in which she played a large role in the design process. Conversely, her sister, Bella, has chosen to attack this past fashion month with full force and shows no sign of an intent to slow down. Hailey Baldwin, crowned Maxim’s Sexiest Woman for 2017, is still modelling frequently, shooting editorials and campaigns left, right, and center. However, it also appears that she is looking to become a true household name via her new vocation as a television presenter. Baldwin has taken up the Chrissy-Teigen-on-Lip-Sync-Battle role on the new TBS show Drop the Mic, hosted by rapper Method Man. With this show being broadcast in the homes of millions of Americans, it is likely that Baldwin will reach an even broader audience than her Instagram allows her to and will perhaps lead to non-modelling opportunities like more television appearances and can help her build her own personal brand outside of the brands that she is already the face of. And as for Kendall Jenner, she has been lying low since the Pepsi debacle earlier this year, choosing a lingerie contract with La Perla over the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Jenner also spent most of fashion month outside of Europe, walking in only a handful of shows. Instead she remained in Los Angeles, where she and her family reside, in what seemed like a self-imposed exile. Judging by the coverage of her in comparison to this time last year, Kendall’s star is fading. Or could it be that she is simply being eclipsed by the breakout star of fashion month, Kaia Gerber? Kendall Jenner herself joked in Love Magazine earlier this year that everybody needed to get in all their work before Gerber turned 16 or they’ll all “go broke!”. It seems as though her joke may ring true.