Tag: influencers

Reselling Gifts

Famous people get free shit. It has been that way for a long time. Nowadays, it has evolved from merely gifting (e.g. swag bags at events) to paying them to promote the product. The notion of fame has expanded too. Anyone with internet access can be famous now, which means that regular people with followers online are being paid large sums of money to talk about things. It seems that we all have a price and, in fact, are all just walking billboards. People are now more aware of this than before and take what they see and read online with a pinch of salt, so perhaps paid promotions will be less effective for brands than before (although I did read that FashionNova was one of the top Google searches of the year and they are known for paying influencers and celebrities to promote the brand).

The lesser discussed side of things is what happens to pieces that people are gifted. As an influencer, you receive PR packages from brands on a daily basis. I used to watch a Beauty YouTuber who would receive an entire collection from a brand and only actually like say 2 out of 30 shades of lipstick sent. The rest of the collection would either be hoarded or donated to women’s shelters. With beauty products, the resale market is small. Only the most collectible items can be sold, and only if they are unopened for sanitary reasons. If a YouTuber opens a product to swatch it, the value is gone. Fashion, on the other hand, is a booming resale market and shows no sign of slowing down.

Influencers are donated pieces, or buy them at a super steep discount (80-90% off), and sell them after they’ve worn them once or twice. After all, once they’ve posted it on their Instagram they have to get rid of it (or not rewear it publicly…). The same thing happens at fashion magazines: editors are gifted pieces for promotional consideration, whether they choose to write about them or not is up to them, and they can do whatever they want with the pieces afterwards. The sheer volume of stuff is why people sell it on and make some money in the process. I have sold items on Depop in the past. The app tends to focus on items with a lower price point, mainly vintage pieces that you could find in a thrift store (often what Depop sellers do, hauling items from Goodwill and comparable stores and selling them for a small profit) or gently worn fast-fashion pieces. You don’t tend to see too many brands on there. The sites that are used for selling designer pieces are TheRealReal, Tradesy, Vestiaire Collective, and sometimes eBay.

The ethics of selling things that you didn’t actually pay for are a little bit murky. On one hand, it is how many young editors in fashion sustain their lifestyles. On the other, you are profiting 100% off of things you did not purchase and are likely not declaring that income on your tax forms so it is pretty shady. Fashion editors tend to be on a very low salary yet seem to all be wearing designer pieces and living in New York City. Something’s gotta give.

Racked did a wonderful project, called The Swag Project, where they kept all of the pieces that the editors were given over a 6 month period and totaled its value, plus added a few articles digging deeper into the ethics behind it all. In the 6 months, the site received close to $100k worth of items for free yet only wrote about 3% of the products sent to them. The best article to come out of this project is an article entitled “The Secret Swag Resale Economy” which delves into the rife reselling that goes on at magazines. For example, a Conde Nast staffer initially felt guilty after selling a laser hair removal package that she was gifted and keeping the proceeds then quickly realized that that is just how things operate there. Much of the fashion industry runs on a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, in all facets of the industry. I follow a YouTuber who was involved in a mini-scandal when a follower on Depop called her out for reselling an item gifted to her that was an exclusive piece not originally for sale. This happens all the time so it was interesting to see her response which was, of course, very defensive. Also interesting was the fact that fashion editors do this all the time and get no response. Perhaps it is just because it is less known or less public.

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With the rise of social media, fashion editors have fast become celebrities with followings in their own right. It used to be that only the top tier of magazine editors were known, but now even a fashion assistant at a publication can garner a following in the tens of thousands. Of course, once you hit around 5000 followers on Instagram, the paid promotions come-a-knocking. The FTC has cracked down on paid promotions online though, releasing guidelines that say you must clearly state at the beginning of the caption that it is an ad. They have also been investigating people and issuing fines for influencers and celebrities who do not abide by the guidelines. Paid promotions in the fashion industry, however, are not as clear as #ad. Editors get free clothes, discounts, attend parties, get sent on trips, and have dinners. They often attend the same events as influencers who are vocal about their payment / partnership, but don’t post about them in the same way: Fashionista did a good post about the “tricky ethical territory” that editors verge into as a result of this. The discussion on this topic is promising because it means that consumer awareness is high. I don’t have a problem with people attending the events or reselling their free stuff, as long as people know that it is happening. Instagram tends to portray a false reality and people are often fooled into seeing the world in a way that simply does not exist. I would like to see that change and people be a lot more transparent about things.

Recommended reading:

The Secret Swag Resale Economy” – Racked

Arguably the most interesting article in The Swag Project, this article delves deep into the practice of gifting at magazines and the ethical guidelines in which staff are told to follow.

“We Received $95,000 Worth of Free Stuff in 6 Months” – Racked

The first article in The Swag Project with a lot of information on what was received and what happened to it all. Amazing infographics!

“As Editors Transition to Influencers, They Enter Tricky Ethical Territory” – Fashionista

Further delves into the discussion started by Racked and mentions some key items that were suspected to be gifted to editors and influencers alike. 

Weekly Words: 5th August 2017

“The Blogger Divide: Converters or Brand-Builders?” – WWD

There’s an ever-evolving conversation about influencers and what their influence actually means. How does it translate into sales or awareness for brands and why even work with them (and pay them the exorbitantly high figures that they do)? With the rise of micro-influencers and brands gravitating towards those with a smaller but more engaged following, the place of the true influencers (1m plus followers on a platform) has been wavering. However, this WWD article shows that influencers are now separated into further subcategories, converters or brand-builders. Converters are the ones who actually drive sales and tend to have a smaller but more engaged following. They help the brand make sales and the influencer make money via affiliate links. Brand-builders are the ones like Chiara Ferragni who have huge followings (in Ferragni’s case, she has 10m on Instagram) but don’t necessarily convert these views into sales. However, neither type of influencer is better than the other and brands continue to work with them both. I’d be interested if there was a website out there that would be able to give you a list of all of the influencers and how their conversion actually works out so you’d be able to see who really is the most influential.

“Anthony Vaccarello’s Vision” – Harper’s Bazaar

I enjoyed reading this interview with Anthony Vaccarello, Saint Laurent’s creative director. Saint Laurent has been one of my favorite brands for as long as I can remember even caring about fashion and it is one that I keep up with season after season. Vaccarello had some large shoes to fill, entering the role after Hedi Slimane departed, but I’d say he has done a good job keeping the same level of buzz (or perhaps even growing it, marginally). Remember those slouchy glitter boots which had a waitlist at Saks the day of the runway show? They retail for $10000, FYI. I liked Vaccarello since a couple of years ago, when he was showing in Milan with the sexed-up Versace level of glam designs that put him on the map. I feel like his designs at Saint Laurent are just an extension of these with an added twist thrown in for good measure. This interview goes a little more in depth about Vaccarello’s life and career history. I’m always curious to hear people’s stories, especially those who are in a position that I admire. I’m excited to see the next Saint Laurent collection come the Spring shows!

“Vogue to Host Fall Conference with Star-Studded Designer Lineup” – Fashionista

Vogue Magazine is hosting a conference in October and no it doesn’t sound like that boring kind that your parents may have gotten sent to when you were a kid. They’ve managed to line up the best of the best in the industry as their speakers and have developed a one-day program at Milk Studios in Manhattan that seems like a genuinely interesting and valuable day to attend. Sounds great, until you see the price tag. A single ticket costs $3000. This is extremely prohibitive. I wonder how many companies will be willing to shell out this much for a ticket for employees and/or how many people will be willing to spend this much cash, personally, on such an event. The cost seems prohibitive. According to the Fashionista article, they will be releasing heavily discounted student tickets but I imagine even these will run for around $500. It’s a shame because when I first read about the event it seemed akin to the Vogue Festival which British Vogue hosted in London a few times. You could purchase tickets to individual talks for (I think) around 50 GBP (I don’t remember the exact price) and you had access to trend talks, styling sessions, and free manicures and hair & make-up. I initially thought this conference may have been a similar thing but evidently, it is not. Vogue is focused on professionals. I think it is sad that the cost is so high because the speakers are really amazing and I think the talks would be super valuable for people to hear, especially those who are trying to break into the industry. I’m waiting to hear what the student price is!

Weekly Words: 17th June 2017

In New CondĂ© Nast Partnership, Farfetch Buys — and Shutters — Style.com – Fashionista.com

Thank you @styledotcom & @magdalenafrackowiakjewelry

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The new iteration of Style.com was a short-lived pursuit. Relaunched in September 2016, the Style.com we all knew and loved had disappeared and in its place popped up a curated e-commerce site, like a shoppable magazine edit. Just days ago, model turned jeweler Magdalena Frackowiak posted three screenshots from the website on her Instagram. They had just featured her products along with a mini-review of her line. Come Tuesday and Style.com is gone. Type it in your browser and you will be automatically redirected to FarFetch. It all happened extremely quickly yet it is not entirely surprising. I remember when the original Style.com closed, how disappointing that was given that it used to be the go-to source for all runway shows. Vogue then launched VogueRunway.com which actually just turned into Vogue.com/Fashion-Shows (not a separate site as initially discussed). Then when Style.com relaunched as the e-commerce site, things were a little quiet. It didn’t seem to generate the buzz that Conde Nast had hoped for. It makes sense now that FarFetch have acquired the site. In terms of the online landscape, there really are two major players now and FarFetch are one of them (along with the Yoox Net-a-Porter group). I have written about FarFetch in detail before on my post about the Italian Vogue e-commerce cover because as I said before I think it is the future of fashion. This new acquisition for the company just proves that things are only getting bigger and better. I plan to follow FarFetch’s progress closely.

“Your Favorite Influencers Aren’t Writing Their Own Content – These Women Are” – Marie Claire

An amazing graphic from Marie Claire

Ok let me start this off by saying that this was the first time I’d ever visited Marie Claire’s website and I was so surprised at how beautiful it looked. Really, it’s the most stunning website that I urge you to check out. Secondly, this article was eyeopening to me. First of all, did you know that some influencers do not write any of their content that goes out? That means Instagram captions (even for non-sponsored posts), tweets, anything is all written by a ghostwriter. It seems so crazy to me because people look at influencers as relatable people. We are meant to be getting a glimpse into their real life and their personalities. To find out that there are some out there whose online persona is completely crafted by someone who they haven’t even met (in some cases) is a little bit strange and off-putting to me. Fortunately I am not someone who is heavily swayed by influencers. I don’t buy things because they tell me to. I don’t wear things because they wear them. I don’t think things because they say them. However, some people do, especially younger people. Influencers who are geared towards the teenage set are particularly dangerous in my eyes as the teens will be latching onto something that is entirely fake. It would suck to find out that your idol is, in fact, nothing like how they appear to be online. That used to be the case for celebrities (hence the phrase “never meet your idol”) but for influencers the whole idea was that they were real people. The article goes further into depth about what the ghostwriters do and I encourage you to read it yourself. Transparency is key, people!

“Miami’s best concept store is opening a six floor location in NYC” – CR Fashion Book

The South Beach location

The Webster, South Beach’s luxury concept store perhaps akin to the likes of Maxfield, is opening a new location in SoHo towards the end of the year, and I, for one, am excited to visit. I have heard only good things about the South Beach location, from the selection of designers and merchandise carried (supposedly very cool) to the visuals in-store so I am interested to see how the new store looks. Judging by the write-up in CR Fashion Book plus on various other media outlets, it will be quite the store both architecturally and in terms of visual merchandising. Fashionista.com did an interview with the owner of the boutique, Laure Heriard Dubreuil, and in one of her responses she discussed her merchandising technique of mixing the brands together to curate outfit looks for customers. I love that idea because sometimes it is boring seeing all the brands grouped together and it is easy to bypass cool items because you are not interested in the brand. The store is already generating buzz and an opening date has not even been announced. As far as I can tell, it will be a welcome addition to the SoHo retail landscape.

Weekly Words: 29th April 2017

“Solange on Fashion vs Style, Her Pre-Teen Goth Phase, and How Confusing ‘Festival Style’ Is“- Fashionista.com

If you have spoken to me anytime in the past year or so, I’ll have mentioned Solange. I love her. She’s so pure and such an amazing artist. I love that she is no longer being referred to as Beyonce’s little sister and that she is being recognized as the great person she actually is. Also, I’m still desperately trying to get tickets to see her show at the Guggenheim in May but tickets are $900 on resale sites – they were originally $50. This interview, from Fashionista, was cool because it gave us more of an insight into Solange’s personal style. I think we all knew she was original when her wedding photos were revealed, with everyone wearing all white and standing in a perfect formation. I feel like every second of her life is an art piece. Read the article linked above to find out where she gets her inspirations from.

“Keeping Score: Brands Tally Bloggers’ Bots” – WWD

From WWD article

I have been talking a lot recently about how so many people on Instagram have fake followers, either that they have paid for or via bots that have followed them. I know I even have some bots following me and I have less than 500 followers. It came out last week that Instagress, a popular automation tool for IG, has been shut down. Instagram’s policy is that it does not allow third party applications but there are still plenty of services out there for people who are trying to amass a following. I always look at engagement rate on Instagram posts. The point of this article was that if a blogger with a huge following gets a low number of likes on a post, their following is likely fake. Vice versa, if a blogger with a small following gets an unproportionately large number of likes on a post, they may be using bots. There is a new service that brands can use to verify an influencers’ following and each influencer/blogger gets a score based on their engagement rates, bot rate etc. That way brands will pay a blogger a fee that is directly linked to their score instead of wasting money on posts that may not get the reach promised. It is also interesting as I have noticed a few articles out there recently about microinfluencers and how brands are moving towards using them as they tend to have a more engaged and loyal following. I find all of this social media stuff so interesting so this article was a good read.

Anna Wintour Interview (in two parts) – Business of Fashion


Anna Wintour sat down with Imran Amed, founder of the Business of Fashion website, for an interview that has been posted online in two parts. She is also the cover star for the print issue of the magazine. I found Anna’s interview to make her come across very well, as she always does, and I often wonder why she has the terrifying reputation that she does. She is someone who seems very aware of her own power but doesn’t seem to want to abuse it. She is also aware that Vogue needs to change to keep up with the times and actually welcomes that. I encourage you to read the interview for yourself as all I can really do is summarize what she said. I just think this interview showed us again why Anna Wintour is where she is and also why Business of Fashion is one of the best, if not the best, sources of fashion related content out there.