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Louise Lang

Founder of PhygitalTwin

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How Social Media Stars Are Shaping Fashion Trends And Building Million Dollar Brands Online

Influencers now drive trends instead of traditional fashion houses, spark viral popularity for products, and use their large engaged audiences to directly influence consumer purchases.


The landscape of consumer behaviour has undergone a dramatic transformation. Previously, brands led by creative directors set trends months before products hit the market. Now, consumers not only create their trends but also curate content and sell to their audience.

This digital evolution has been happening gradually over time. In 2010, only 20% of goods were sold online, moving to 2023 post covid, where nearly 60% of goods are spent online. Less than ten years ago, the likes of Hollywood actresses and actors graced the front row of luxury fashion shows. Now, the influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers on TikTok and Instagram grab these premier seats, being paid to wear clothes and post on social media. 

But it’s more than just that; these content creators now have an engaged audience that influences purchasing decisions. 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations, according to the Digital Marketing Institute. Furthermore, 69% of consumers trust what influencers say and recommend

But what is it about these influencers that enables them to sell fashion to their customers?

From the Catwalk to TikTok, The Fashion Industry is Evolving

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Prominent fashion houses have historically set trends; take Coco Chanel, who, over 100 years ago, revolutionised how we dress by encouraging women to be stylish and care for themselves but never to sacrifice comfort. Elegance, simplicity, monochrome colours, and well-fitting clothes made her brand stand out. Today, the house of Chanel is still the 2nd largest high-end goods maker (behind LVMH) with a turnover of $17 billion. Chanel knew her audience; its strength is that 100 years on, as a customer, you know what to expect.  


Some outstanding pioneers in fashion have shaped trends and social culture. From Schiaparelli, who introduced surrealism through prints, to Mary Quant, who created an integrated design aesthetic which made 1960s femininity suddenly synonymous with movement and energy, empowering younger women to be free, confident and optimistic despite the social rigidities of the time. 

These fashion visionaries, not to forget Vivienne Westwood and many others, inspired generations of creatives to study fashion design. No mean thing, entry into esteemed universities such as Central St. Martins is highly competitive, with only 6% of student applications accepted. Coupled with fees of over $40k a year, this is not a mainstream route; it’s elite. 

This isn’t to acknowledge that it gives you remarkable kudos; 46% of fashion brands showing at British Fashion Week in London in 2021 were CSM-educated. However, it doesn’t mean to say that your collection will sell. Many of these graduates struggle with garnering thousands of followers. With the high costs of starting a fashion brand (circa £50k) this investment often doesn’t pay off unless they have the right influencers that can hype up their product to be the coolest thing anyone wants to buy. 

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