buying fake followers bots and manipulating instagram Fyre festival cheese sandwichWhile influencing others isn’t new, the idea of an ‘Influencer’ is. We’ve seen a huge growth of individuals with large followings on social media pitching themselves as the magical conduit between brands and consumers. Vast sums have been spent, but there’s a new mood, and an anti-Influencer sentiment is building.

One of the surprise Netflix hits of recent months was the documentary, 'Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened’. It focused on the naive attempt to hold a luxury music festival on a Caribbean island. ‘Influencers’ were vilified and blamed for enticing people to part with their cash. More than regular models, because they used their huge social media following to promote the festival, they we’re given, rightly or wrongly, some of the responsibility for the festival’s spectacular failure. 

Left - Fyre Festival catering, not quite as promised

Buzz Carter, Head of Outreach at Bulldog Digital Media, a digital marketing agency, says, “Negativity towards Influencers has been brewing for a while now, following multiple scandals over the past few years, like Warner Brothers paying YouTube Influencers for good reviews for ‘Shadow of Mordor’, multiple Influencers not marking paid posts as ads, Influencers pushing gambling and scams to a young audience (RiceGum & Mystery Brand) and the ongoing issue of fake followers and interaction.

“This has been in the background for a while, but with the Fyre festival documentary, it’s boiled over.” he says. “Influencers only work when their audience trusts them, but all of these have shown an untrustworthy aspect to Influencers, but I definitely think the Fyre Festival doc. was a catalyst for a lot of the negativity going around now, as it showcased the issue to people who wouldn’t have thought about it.”

The general public are finally understanding the meaning of the term ‘Influencer’. What first started with bloggers and YouTubers has morphed into ‘Influencers’ and ‘Content Creators’ over the past few years. The dictionary definition of ‘Influencer’ states; “a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media.” It is usually focussed on the Instagram platform.

Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO, Socialbakers, a social media marketing platform, says, “It is centred around Instagram because Instagram really is the social media platform from which influencers were born. Because of the highly visual nature of the content posted on the platform, it is the place where brands are seeing the most engagement on their content. Hence it is also the place where celebrities and influencers are able to interact with these brands to drive mutual benefit.”

The Advertising Standard Authority (ASA) has issued guidelines to tidy up the difference between sponsored posts and non. Recently, sixteen social media stars including Rita Ora and Alexa Chung have been warned by the Competition and Markets Authority that their posts could break consumer law. Shahriar Coupal, Director of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) said: “Responsible influencer marketing involves being upfront and clear with the audience, so people are not confused or misled and know when they’re being advertised to. The relationship between Influencers and their followers relies on trust and authenticity, so transparency is in the interests of all parties. This guide on the standards will help influencers and brands stick to the rules by being upfront with their followers.”

buying fake followers bots and manipulating instagram Fyre festival cheese sandwich #ad

The guidelines state you have to declare #AD or similar, when you’ve been ‘paid’ in some way (can be freebies, doesn’t have to be money), AND, had some form of editorial ‘control’ over the content. It’s not an ‘either/or’ – there has to be both ‘payment’ and ‘control’ for this type of post to count as an #AD under the CAP Code.

The BBC’s recent broadcast of a Panorama provocatively titled ‘Million Pound Selfie Sell Off’ focused on the negative types of things Influencers are promoting like fad diets and teeth whitening. It jumped on the Influencer backlash which is rippling out to the wider public. It’s creating feeling of being hoodwinked or cheated.

Erica Davies, a former newspaper fashion editor and womenswear and home Influencer with 130K followers on Instagram, commented on Twitter in response to the Panorama programme, “Transparency and honesty is key. But equally, the playing field needs to be level. If one platform is under the microscope, then there should be a united set of rules targeting ALL advertising across newspaper and magazine journalism, print titles AND social media.

A few people’s untrustworthy ethics on social media platforms is bringing negative heat onto Influencers in general. “There are a lot of responsible, trustworthy people trying to provide interesting, creative content on social media, that doesn’t just involve ‘selling stuff.’ It’s a shame #BBCPanorama didn’t talk to any of them.” she says.

Anybody can be an Influencer, and there are many crossovers between jobs, but it’s the fixation on the numbers of followers and engagement that is creating an environment for people to cheat the system. There have been recent articles calling out people for buying followers and “cheating” the system. Is this a sign of the bubble bursting for Influencers and the saturation of the market or is this an element of jealousy of those “living their best life”?

If you consider yourself to be an Influencer then everything is self-promotion. Your entire business is based on pushing yourself and proving your influence and trying to monetise that. But, people are growing tired and suspicious of vacuous content.

William Matthews, Menswear Marketing Specialist, says “Anti-Influencer sentiment is being fuelled by opportunistic, uninformed individuals who can’t base their opinions on relevant frames of reference or experience. “I love this” means nothing unless you can explain in a meaningful, informed way why that is.
"Hats off to the fantastic influencers who have worked hard to evolve their taste, opinions and truly understand their subject matter (in the same way journalists/editors do) with hard-won experience and relevant frames of reference. They add huge value to the media mix for brands.” he says

Consumers are also switching off. According to a report by Mindshare, Google Trends queries like “social media harms your mental health” and “social media seriously harms your mental health” have risen in the last 12 months, by +5,000% and +4,000% respectively. The report by Mindshare entitled ‘Trends 2019’, which holds quantitative research from more than 6,000 consumers aged 18+ across the UK found 61% of consumers are doing more to monitor their own screen time, 72% of consumers have begun to unfollow certain people and accounts altogether and 66% of people have started to hide social media posts from people with differing views.

With the decline of print, digital, including social media, is going to be a more important way to reach consumers for brands. “While influencer marketing has been around in some form or another for a long time, it's really only in the last year or so that it has become such an important tactic for marketers.” says Ben-Itzhak. “As with anything that involves exchanging money for a service, the practise is open to a certain amount of fraud and misbehaviour. It will bring greater dependency on marketing technologies to help brands identify the right Influencer and as to help Influencers vet the brands before they work with them. 

"If you look at celebrity throughout the ages, there has always been competition from within and jealousy from the outside. Influencers are very much an extension of that. What will be interesting to see in the next months/years is how much credibility consumers will continue to give to macro influencers, such as the big name celebrities who have a high price tag for each post, versus the micro-influencers, who have smaller follower numbers but greater credibility with their niche communities.” says Ben-Itzhak.

Influencers wear many hats and celebrities promoting products isn’t a new concept. What Influencers have to realise is, this direct dialogue with their followers makes them look more responsible. How much do brands employ Bella Hadid or Kendall Jenner for their modelling skills rather than their social media numbers?

“For the future of the industry, I can see Influencer marketing being put under tighter regulations on what they can promote and how they promote, as well a crackdown on fake followers, Social Chain are actually working on a tool to see through follower fraud. So in the future I think influencer marketing will thrive, but it will be more carefully used by brands than it has been over the last few years.” says Carter.

These documentaries and programmes have put a spotlight onto this Influencer world and is making the general public become more cynical and wary of social media Influencers. It will be interesting to see whether this new toxic environment makes brands want to distance themselves and implodes the entire market entirely.

I’ve also written - Digital Hindsight

The End of ‘Influence’ 

Wednesday, 13 February 2019 15:18

Copenhagen Menswear Trade Shows AW19 Report

Copenhagen ciff revolver trends trade shows trends AW19 menswearDepending on how you look at it, Copenhagen's shows are either late or early. It’s the end of the men’s calendar and the beginning of the women’s. Copenhagen has two main trade shows: Revolver and CIFF. Revolver is more condensed and in the upper mid-market of men’s and women’s brands, while CIFF runs the full spectrum from East London’s finest to affordable and wearable mainstream brands and designers.

Here are the trends and brands to know for AW19:

Left - A display at CIFF AW19

TRENDS

Copenhagen ciff revolver bum bum bag trends trade shows trends AW19 menswear

Practical Harnesses

Seen on the red-carpet thanks to Abloh’s Louis Vuitton, the harness, with attached pockets, is the natural successor to the bum bag. The cross-body straps and practicality, makes it look fresh and incorporates better into an outfit. This is about sports and travel while being hands-free. New brands offering these styles are “BumBumBag” from France and “Taikan” from Canada.

Right - New affordble accessories brand from France, BumBumBag

 

Copenhagen ciff revolver trends trade shows trends AW19 menswear pullover recycled cashmere

Recycled Cashmere

This was a trend that I noticed at Pitti Uomo. The economics of recycling relies on the material having a higher monetary value and cashmere is one such raw fibre. Danish brand Pullover, www.pullover.dk is collecting old cashmere knitwear, taking it to Italy, removing all buttons, care labels and necklabels and separating into colours.

They then shred the fibres, mix with virgin cashmere to spin new yarn. The final garment contains 70% recycled cashmere and 30% new.

Left - Danish brand, Pullover's display of the different cashmere makers going into its recycled cashmere jumpers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copenhagen ciff revolver trends trade shows trends AW19 menswear

Copenhagen ciff revolver trends trade shows trends AW19 menswear

The Cool Quilted Slipper

The Millennials and Generation Z aren’t leaving the house, so the cool slipper is where the money is in young footwear ATM. Something fun and affordable, these quilted versions look young and comfortable. Brands such as Woolrich, The North Face and Crocs each showed their versions.

See new brand “Coma Toes” in Berlin

From Left - Woolrich, The North Face

  

 

Copenhagen ciff Vagabond shoes revolver trends trade shows trends AW19 menswear

Return of the Brogue

If minimal Scandi footwear brands like Vagabond are reintroducing the brogue then you know it’s the direction footwear is going in. As we see a contraction in sports shoes, we’ll see a swing back to leather shoes and in particular brogue styles.

Left - Vagabond brogues

Christian Sneum Copenhagen ciff revolver trends trade shows trends AW19 menswear

BRANDS

Sneum

Christian Sneum worked at Valentino for 12 years before launching his own, eponymous label. New for AW19, it’s a dark take on western/army wear including accessories and footwear offering exaggerated details in classic menswear styles.

Left - Sneum, new brand by a former Valentino designer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Vanessa Copenhagen ciff revolver trends trade shows trends AW19 menswear

Dear Vanessa

This Dutch label is inspired by the name Vanessa. Interestingly, the name was invented by the author Jonathan Swift for Esther Vanhomrigh, whom Swift had met in 1708 and tutored. The name was created by taking “Van” from Vanhomrigh's last name and adding "Essa", a pet name for Esther. A soft palette of pastels comes in waisted coats, knitwear and trainers in this feminised feeling men's collection.

Left - New Dutch brand inspired by Jonathan Swift's invention of the name Vanessa

Asposrtguesas cork Copenhagen ciff revolver trends trade shows trends AW19 menswear

Asportuguesas

The vast majority of wine bottles no longer contain a cork, so what has happened to that centuries old Portguese commodity? Asportuguesas is a new footwear concept using the harvest from these oak trees. The world’s first cork flip-flops brand, it uses a 100% natural raw material that is born in a tree and is retrieved every nine years, without the tree ever being cut.

Left - Cork soles giving Asportuguesas a sustainable base

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haerveark Copenhagen ciff revolver trends trade shows trends AW19 menswear

Haervaerk

Meaning “Vandalism” in Danish, Haervaerk is a Gorillaz-type, gaming looking label of brightly coloured unisex clothing. Their uniform is metamorphorsed by the oil sea, wet asphalt and the rusty containers that litter the Danish seafront. 

Niels Gundtoft Hansen, the lead designer, grew up in Denmark and is imbuing the collections with a Nordic identity. Originally hailing from Copenhagen, Hansen studied at London’s prestigious Royal College of Art. His 2016 graduate collection won the Only the Brave award at ITS – the International Talent Support contest in Trieste Italy. Marie Munk, as well a Danish graduate from the Royal College of Art, became partner in Hærværk in spring 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cottweiler allegri Copenhagen ciff revolver trends trade shows trends AW19 menswear

Cottweiler reebok trainers sneakers Copenhagen ciff revolver trends trade shows trends AW19 menswear

Collaborations for AW19

Nicholas Daley for Fred Perry

Rising British menswear star, Nicholas Daley, has been tapped up by Fred Perry for this first collaborative collection. As well as working with adidas Originals for AW19, Daley offers his mixing of styles influenced by his Caribbean and Scottish backgrounds. Think madras camp collar shirts and bold tracksuits inspired by his father’s nightclub.

Cottweiler for Reebok and Allegri

Matthew Dainty and Ben Cottrell of British brand Cottweiler have worked with the Italian outerwear maker, Allegri, and Reebok for two further collaborations, this season. This is a continued relationship with Reebok featuring a new slip-on loafer and the 10 raincoats with Allegri are inspired by the deep sea and its underwater world using their respected fabrication.

From far left - Cottweiler X Allegri, Cottweiler's loafer for Reebook

Sunday, 10 February 2019 14:31

Menswear Product Of The Week The New Trouser

The new menswear trouser shape Daniel W Fletcher menswearWith the skinny trouser shape safely out of the door, - bye, Hedi! - it’s time to put our cards on the table and decide what's next. Daniel W. Fletcher, one of London’s menswear talents, has been pushing this smart, side-poppered trouser for a few seasons now. 

I spied model, Richard Biedul, in a black Daniel Fletcher suit during the last LFWM and it all started to make sense. That flick on a trouser just looks right and the contrast stitching gives these trousers a less dressy feel. The studded poppers allows you to wear them closed and they're proudly made in England. They're poppers o'clock!

The new menswear trouser shape Daniel W Fletcher menswear

Left & Below - Daniel W. Fletcher - Black Split Hem Tailored Trousers - £380

Below - Model Richard Biedul in the full Daniel W. Fletcher suit at LFWM Jan. 2019

The new menswear trouser shape Daniel W Fletcher menswear Richard Biedul

Barcelona top menswear brands Mans Concept

Barcelona top menswear brands Mans ConceptMy first visit to this beautiful city’s fashion week; its new remit of hosting international talent, and nearly half of the shows dedicated to menswear, makes this a place to watch for nascent menswear brands. Here are TheChicGeek’s highlights:

Mans Concept & Menswear

One of Barcelona’s emerging menswear stars, Mans Concept & Menswear - it's a mouthful - is designer, Jaime Álvarez’s brand. Born in Seville, he studied fashion at IED Madrid and graduated in 2017. This was a journey to India featuring florals, exaggerated lapels and knitted tank tops. An Indian colour palette of fuschia, marigold yellow and green gave this a summery feel with the highlights being delicate leaf cutouts in soft tailoring.

Both Left - Mans Concept & Menswear took a trip to India

Barcelona top menswear brands Umit Benan

Umit Benan

Invited Turkish designer, Benan, looked to religion as a leveller of people: once their shoes are taken off in the mosque everybody is equal. He launched his eponymous line in 2009 and won the 1st edition of Who’s on Next/Uomo contest the year after at Pitti Uomo. This collection featured long trench coats to the floor, even coming in reflective gold, thuggish looking bleached corduroy and knitted under-looking clothes. Tailoring was prominent with evening wear and overcoats and quilted jackets and trousers injected the AW19 protective element.

Right - Umit Benan

Barcelona top menswear brands Jnorig

Jnorig

Javier Girón studied at the Instituto Europeo di Design (IED) in Barcelona and upon graduating he moved to Los Angeles to work alongside Jeremy Scott, Creative Director at Moschino. He returned to Barcelona in 2016, to establish his high-end menswear brand. This was a slick sportswear collection featuring collegiate lettering in a monochrome palette. It’s hard to get this kind of aesthetic to look high-end, but here it looked considered, stylish and well fabricated. 

Left - Jnorig AW19

Barcelona top menswear brands Pablo Erroz

Pablo Erroz

Pablo Erroz founded his ready-to-wear fashion brand for men and women in 2010. Entirely made in Spain, this was a collection with a touch of the Gallaghers with the 90s round coloured lensed glasses. Stripes and the Spanish leather work was there in a light, wearable collection with nautical ropes, florals and sequins.

Right - Liam or Noel?! All made in Spain, Pablo Erroz

 

Barcelona top menswear brands Rubén Galarreta

Rubén Galarreta

Spain’s own youthful and unashamed take on Versace hyped fashion, the Rubén Galarreta brand launched in 2014. Featuring the perfect balance between haute couture and sportswear, the vibrant prints, transparent fabrics, hand-embroidered pieces and unique accessories aren’t for those who want to blend into the crowd. Elasticated side cut outs on trousers, the Chinese Lucky Cat waving motif and transparent underwear makes for a sexualised and provocative male for AW19. This is underwear as outerwear.

Left - Strapped in for AW19 - Rubén Galarreta

Disclosure - TheChicGeek travelled to Barcelona thanks to 080 Barcelona Fashion Week

Friday, 08 February 2019 22:20

ChicGeek Comment Digital Hindsight

buying fake followers bots and manipulating instagramIt was while at Barcelona Fashion Week, looking over a German Influencer’s shoulder, that the digital world looked incredibly small. She was busy scrolling, liking and commenting on pictures on Instagram. All the images looked like fellow Influencers. 

We’ve had all this talk of “engagement", and brouhaha about methods of promotion, see bots, but it dawned on me that this is an audience invested in their own engagement. It’s real, but then what is real in the virtual, social media world? What is the correct form of “engagement”?

Left - No Likey

It’s basically people engaging with themselves and why are we surprised that people who like their own self-image are doing it? People have created pods to allow groups of other people to know when they have posted and to mutually like and comment the posts, increasing engagement. It’s basically what you do with your friends, but more organised and business like. It’s fine if you’ve got the energy for it. I haven’t.

She needs to like and engage with other influencers, and vice versa, to keep the momentum up, but are the numbers outside these circles actually worthy of note? It’s really hard to know. It’s pretty much the same with magazine circulation figures.

It’s also like the Fyre Festival. How were the influencers to know that a festival, scheduled months in advance, was going to be a disaster? People promote things in good faith and hope people stick behind their promises and obligations. We can all look back in hindsight and wish to do things differently or not at all.

The “Instagram police” are busy telling people what they should and shouldn’t do, but people are manipulating things all of the time. Who made the rules for the game in the first place? It’s the nature of SEO, or even more old fashioned, people buying mailing lists. It’s businesses trying to promote themselves, which certainly isn’t new.

I would never condone buying followers, that’s plain wrong, on any platform, but getting software to do what you could do yourself is a clever use of time, isn’t it? I tried the follow/unfollow method a few years ago, when I was struggling to grow followers and asked a friend how they were growing their’s. I saw it like scheduling posts or using something automated. I stopped when I realised I really didn’t care enough. Others saw it as cheating. I’ve never denied it.

We’re all at the whims of giant corporations moving the digital goalposts all of the time. Whether it’s Google or Facebook or whoever, people are continually adapting and trying new things. It’s the nature of the business. It’s how they promote themselves and work things to their advantage. We’re all digital micro-plankton bobbing along on their electronic sea.

In the decade since I started TheChicGeek I’ve always valued words and opinion and that’s why Instagram never really worked for me. It did give me TheChicGeek character, though, which I’m grateful for. I pride myself on having a distinct point of view and opinion and it would be odd if I didn’t have an opinion on this subject. I feel like I owe some sort of explanation to the people and brands I’ve worked with over the years. This blog has always been my passion and focus and always will.

We’ll probably look back on this hysterical witch hunt in a few years and wonder why anybody really cared. Hopefully, all this negative energy will implode the whole darn thing. It’s time for something new anyway.

Read - You're Fyred! The Anti-Influencer Backlash has begun...