Social media has changed the way a lot of industries work and run, especially the fashion industry, and more specifically, within that, the modeling industry. The number of followers on Instagram, and now TikTok, has never mattered so much in regards to who is invited to attend a fashion show. It’s now not only about what you know and who you know, but who knows you too.
The popularity of social media has mainly had a positive impact on modeling, as it’s created more opportunities for people and sped up existing processes within the industry. However, before technology’s takeover, models were chosen depending on the level of talent and how they fit the brand, but now individuals with little modeling experience, but a large social following are becoming the first choice. This has been apparent in Dolce & Gabbana’s shows, where they have cast more social media influencers for their runways than high fashion models.
Social media has really benefited these high-end models, during the pandemic, who have been somewhat trodden on by influencers. When the coronavirus hit in 2019, the model industry came to a halt, as shows were cancelled and restrictions were put in place.
Alexina Graham, a successful model who has previously walked the Victoria’s Secret catwalk, told BBC News that when the coronavirus hit, her work stopped. She had to start creating her own content promoting brands on her personal social media accounts; the definition of an influencer. She went on to say that social media has become a main factor of her job as a model now, and many brands have recognised this too, and the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for influencer marketing.
Brands and designers started investing in their influencer marketing budget more, as influencers could shoot their own content that was fresh and of high quality without the hassle of organising a shoot and hiring a crew. If high-end models couldn’t beat them without social media, they were obliged to join them.
Nathan Hopkinson, a model from Nemesis Models, noticed his bookings start to fall during the pandemic, and decided to spend extra time boosting his social presence. He told BBC News that he saw it as an opportunity, and started posting regularly on TikTok with the rewards being immense. Since March 2020, he has gained more than 270,000 followers on the app, and another 130,000 followers on Instagram, and thus resulted in more interest from high-end clients.
The other positive aspect social media has created for models, is a safe space and a platform to talk about injustices that happen within the industry daily. The hashtag #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse has turned into an online movement, where models share stories anonymously of sexual harassment and work to raise awareness. Models have also spoken out about mistreatment during castings too, and verbal abuse they have received. The ability of models to talk about these topics on social media means they are no longer forced to be silent, and can hopefully create change by advocating for fair treatment.
It’s clear how much social media influencers have drastically transformed the modeling industry, for better or for worse, but as John Horner, Models1 managing director, said ‘A model is not a specialist, they have to be a chameleon’. Models have to adapt to different situations and brands, and the biggest test of this was the coronavirus pandemic and the reliance on social media. The key factor within this is authenticity. Followers and fashion fans want to feel connected to a person, rather than a brand, and brands are embracing this.
If you have enjoyed this blog, we recommend you read our blog ‘How TikTok has Impacted the Fashion Industry’, or find all our other blogs here.