Gone are the days when Vogue dictated the latest trends in fashion. Today, we live in the fast lane of the Instagrammer and the Snapchat influencers. Last year a handful of Vogue editors shaded “bloggers” as being the “death of style,” but I disagree. Brands are looking at influencers to place their products because magazine ads have always been too expensive (unless you are owned by Kering!). I think for this reason, over the years, bloggers have become excellent candidates to connect brands with consumers. In fact, the most successful fashion bloggers have been elevated to the role of “influencers,” sometimes even becoming millionaires thanks to their sponsored posts. But what happens if a blogger or influencer does not reveal that they were paid to promote the product that they are endorsing on their blog or social media platform?
The Federal Trade Commission has recently taken notice of bloggers and influencers and has sent out regulations to celebrity bloggers stating that: An act or practice is deceptive if there is a material misrepresentation or omission of information that is likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably in the circumstances. The FTC has released a number of lengthy guides that serve to detail how to properly disclose sponsored posts. Note: “sponsored” does not only refer to explicitly paid-for posts; it also encompasses other forms of compensation, such as free garments and accessories, free travel accommodations, and other gifted perks. Additionally, the FTC recently reiterated that material connections, such as “a business or family relationship,” must also be disclosed. (source The Fashion Law).
Transparency on the nature of a post is important if consumers are to form their own opinions. While the FTC’s awareness of potential improper practices by bloggers and influencers is a step in the right direction, lots still needs to be done regarding informing the public about fashion’s supply chain. What about ethical brands? Besides Stella McCarney and Eileen Fisher, two well-known and major brands that are leading the way, smaller, ethical labels don’t often have the means to pay magazines or influencers for advertising, making it unlikely for the mainstream public to know about the ethical label and its vision. Luckily, there is a niche of conscious minded bloggers, who only endorse brands they trust, so, even if those bloggers are posting based upon paid content, they typically are reasonably priced (for the brands) and transparent on their endorsement (for the consumers).
Without ethical bloggers, it would be difficult for small sustainable brands (like yours truly) to find their audience. By partnering with ethical bloggers who share the same values as a brand, the brand can reach the mindful audience of the ethical bloggers. The values that I am talking about are the important values of fair paid labor, cruelty free production, and supply chain transparency. In my opinion, these ethical bloggers are the best kind of influencers because they are not just showing off clothing; they are offering a wider perspective on ethical living and they are showing us that it’s okay to ask questions and to demand and fight for what’s best for uourselves and our environment. Admiring someone who’s doing something right and has the ability to convey their values can motivate us in turn to take our own steps towards more ethical lifestyle choices – to inspire and allow ourselves to be our own influencer!
So readers, what are your experiences with influencers? I’d love to hear your thoughts about who inspires you and how they motivate you?
Photo Cover by Mikayla Mallek