Instagram keeps throwing up suggestions for people I was previously unaware of and it got me thinking.
Fame, it’s weird, and its changed in my lifetime, there is an oft made remark that in the past people were famous for doing something, rather than famous for being famous. That however ignores something, that fame was parleyed into the commercial back then just as today we see influencer culture being used as a promotional tool.
I cast my mind back to the 80’s, for a celeb there was no better opportunity than cutting the ribbon on a shop, or if you were a sports person it was flogging Brut, but right there is that same concept, fame sells stuff. Why would Kevin Keegan or George Best make you want to buy an aftershave? It’s really very simple, they aren’t selling aftershave, they’re selling lifestyle and aspiration. You might not be able to move to Hamburg and be voted best player in the world, but you could smell like you did.
While I wouldn’t be as hypocritical to say that I think there aren’t any issues with the influencer market, there are many issues, some of which have ended up in fines or legal quagmires for example, it’s too easy to say they are the originators of all that is wrong with the world, but they they aren’t, and anyone who writes that article is a lazy journalist lacking in depth and nuance (there I said it).
We live in a time when we can ignore our part, but simple economics prevail even if the numbers don’t stack up with return on investment. People have millions of followers because millions of followers want that content, Whatever the size of the following (size vs sales correlation is a matter increasingly up for debate) the desire of people to consume content or emulate it in their own channels was decided long ago.
In many ways those that have taken a free app as a platform and turned it into a global reach and business are the true entrepreneurs of our time, they gambled and won. I’ll confess I think it’s all built on sand, and that over time the system will change and many will collapse, but that is the nature of life in general. Very few from the early days of the gram or the tube as I believe the young folk call the have maintained their place, you can go from bright burning star to 2nd hand diesel car in days.
But in among the crap, the copying, the flogging tat and shite, there are brilliant people, and I’m not going to dismiss everyone and their personal creativity because it’s cool to rag on influencers, it’s hip to show distaste, as with everything else in the fashion industry, I’ll take them on a case by case basis and I will try to avoid lazy stereotypes.