How Instagram influencers can help sustainable fashion brands to look cool?

To communicate sustainability values, a different marketing approach should be implemented  (Johnstone & Lindh, 2018). According to Forbes (2019), influencers are one of the key players in the fashion industry and they can work as intervening agents between fashion brands and consumers. Like a combination of mediator and moderator in terms of conveying brands’ core values.

Sustainability  has changed from a scientific and technical term into a social and cultural term. To encourage consumers to purchase sustainable brands, an influencer can play a pre-decisional role, which means they can influence their fan-base to choose which products to buy (Johnstone & Lindh, 2018). However, there is a huge dilemma for sustainable fashion brands when it comes to choosing which influencers to collaborate with.

Instagram has evolved into a huge marketplace which many people are trying to benefit from it and make money in different ways. So, for brands that are trying to raise awareness about a serious cause, it is important to choose wisely when it comes to working with influencers. This is because people can easily recognise which celebrity or blogger actually cares about a certain cause and which has got paid to promote it.

To convert younger generation who use social media and specifically Instagram more often, sustainable fashion brands should collaborate with the type of influencers that are well-informed and have a good fan base among young consumers. The reason is younger customers don’t have enough knowledge about the importance of sustainability and environmental issues so when their favourite blogger or celebrity talks about these aspects they can make more informed decisions about shopping (Johnstone & Lindh, 2018).

Studies show that people usually perceive sustainable fashion as unattractive and boring, and the existence of an intermediate influencer to inform them and change their mind is crucial (McKeown, 2019).

Many popular celebrities like Emma Watson, who has a lot of followers on instagram are advocates of sustainability and environmental issues. in the post below Emma promotes an app that gives customers information about sustainable  fabrics and brands that are genuine about sustainability (Instagram, 2019).

There are  also efforts by famous models such as Arizona Muse who calls herself an environmentalist and dedicated her Instagram platform entirely to raise awareness about the importance of sustainability. With over 250.000 followers on Instagram, she is aware of the fact that many people might lose interest in her contents because she is actively promoting sustainability and  people usually like contents  that are about new trends (Business of fashion, 2020).

Despite these risks she is still determined to encourage people to be more sustainable. To make it more fun she posts photos of herself like the one below and scores her outfit out of four. If the garment is made out of sustainable materials or pre-owned it gets positive score and if it is from a synthetic material gets negative score. She also uses hashtag of #AWearNess in all her posts (Business of fashion, 2020).

In another post she asks her followers about her outfit and if silk is sustainable. In this way she creates a discussion among them (Instagram, 2020).

Didem Ozgun, who is a Finnish blogger for Elle Finland also focuses on sustainable fashion in her Instagram posts. Despite considering fashion blogging as a source of income she believes it is very important for people to choose wisely when it comes to fashion and find sustainable brands that use recycled and environmentally friendly materials. She aims at informing her followers about sustainable brands and eco-friendly materials and fabrics (Kaulbars-Staudinger,2019).

Another fashion influencer with eco-friendly fashion concept in mind is Aavarinne. She is constantly doing research about the brands she is collaborating with in order to inform her followers about the sourcing of materials and compositions in order to give a real opinion about the product she is promoting (Kaulbars-Staudinger,2019).

The above-mentioned examples show that there is a shift among many influencers to raise awareness about environmental issues and the importance of being a conscious consumer when it comes to shopping from fashion brands. Targeting the right audience through right influencers can help sustainable fashion brands to not only increase their sales but also encourage people to be more responsible towards tackling environmental issue.



Business of fashion (2020) ‘Can Fashion’s New Activists Make Sustainability Sexy?’.

Forbes (2020). ‘Why Sustainability Is Becoming as Important as Influencers in Fashion’.

Johnstone, L & Lindh C (2018) ‘The Sustainability-Age Dilemma: A Theory of (Un)Planned Behaviour via Influencers’. Journal of Consumer Behaviour. Vol 17, No 1, pp127–39

Kaulbars-Staudinger (2019) ‘Consumer online shopping behavior affected by influencer marketing – with a focus on sustainability’.

McKeown, C (2019). ‘Taking Sustainable Fashion Mainstream: Social Media and the Institutional Celebrity Entrepreneur’. Journal of Consumer Behaviour. Vol. 18, No 5, pp406–14





Is Instagram an effective platform to promote sustainable fashion?

Sustainable, eco-friendly, ethical. These are terms we hear a lot lately.  A few years ago, companies committed to be sustainable were not considered fashionable or cool, but because climate change urgency is a hot topic now, people are getting more knowledgeable about the impact of wastage on the environment and ethical issues in the fashion industry. Based on the Vice news report on the impact of the fashion industry on the environment, greenhouse gas emission made by textile industry is much more than aviation and shipping industries.

A lot of cool fashion brands are starting to use terms like sustainable and eco-friendly when describing their products, however many of them use it loosely and without credible evidence. The main issue here is, to what extend they are being genuine about it and if they are really committed to be sustainable how could they convince their clients to purchase sustainable products?

As discussed by Mia Marjanovic, who is a Berlin based sustainable fashion blogger on Instagram, a lot of fast fashion brands greenwash. Which means they try to look as if they are making a difference, but they actually just have one or two products that are sustainable and give this Impression that the whole brand is sustainable.

Companies like Ganni, Veja, Rothy’s and Allbirds which are some of the most popular brands on Instagram and have cult followers, launched their companies with 100% commitment to sustainability, but little to nothing is mentioned about their sustainability effort on their Instagram page compared to some of their competitors who are less committed. These companies believe being sustainable is something everyone should do at this climax and it shouldn’t be used as a marketing tool. But are people educated enough about recycling and sustainability to naturally go for these brands? The answer is No.

No matter how much government and media push the urgency to act on climate change, people still need to be informed about the impact of the fashion industry on the environment. Having access to thousands of glossy and cool fast fashion brands on Instagram makes people choose those that are cheaper, sexier and trendier. They rarely naturally go for a sustainable brand just for the sake of the environmental issues. Now that these brands are committed to help tackle the climate change, it should be important for them to educate people to be more responsible.

The question here is if Instagram is a useful platform for sustainable brands to educate their clients about this matter? And what is the best way to communicate it to them?

As stated by Reilly & Hynan (2014), by comparing channels of communications like social media and magazines, social media is more effective in conveying the brand’s message as it is interactive and creates a sense of brand community. And because of its direct dialog it is more transparent to customers (Lee , 2009), therefore direct discussions about sustainability on channels like Instagram can influence customers more effectively than any other traditional media. Nowadays, more sustainable apparel companies are using Instagram as a platform to inform customers about the importance of sustainability and corporate social responsibility. As indicated by Ajzen (1991) engagement on social media can change the attitude of people.

Based on de Vries’s (2012) research, for young adults in order to engage in a post about sustainability, the content should be more vivid and interactive and also consists of promotional incentives and discounts (Muk, 2013). For sustainable brands in order to attract more follower, reaching out to credible influencers to promote this can also be helpful (Lee & Watkins, 2016).

Despite the effectiveness of Instagram in influencing people, a report made by Future laboratory (2019) challenges the nature of Instagram for promoting sustainability as it can be hypocritical to promote less consumption and sustainability and at the same time have a purchase button on a product for a quick purchase. On the other hand, the existence of endless bloggers that encourage people to buy fast fashion can also create a dilemma among fashion customers (de Lenne & Vandenbosch, 2017). As their preferences are usually brands that are more flattering and trendy.

When a brand has that cool and trendy vibe and gained enough followers on Instagram like Reformation, which is a sustainable LA based Womenswear company, with right contents, it can educate customers about this matter and make them feel good about purchasing a sustainable piece. Posting contents like below screenshot from Reformation’s Instagram account is a perfect example of educating customers about sustainability in a right context.



Instagram Isn’t the Space for Sustainable Fashion. Accessed 5 Feb. 2020.

Ajzen, I. (1991) ‘The theory of planned behavior’. Organisational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. Vol 50, No 2, pp179-211

de Lenne, O & Vandenbosch, L. (2017) ‘Media and Sustainable Apparel Buying Intention’. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management: An International Journal. Vol 21, no 4,


de Vries, L., Gensler, S. & Leeflang, P.S.H. (2012) ‘Popularity of brand posts on brand fan pages: an investigation of the effects of social media marketing’. Journal of Interactive Marketing. Vol 26, No 2, pp83-91

Instagram Isn’t the Space for Sustainable Fashion (2020)

Lee, M.S.W. & Motion, J. & Conroy, D. (2009) ‘Anti-consumption and brand avoidance’. Journal of Business Research. Vol 62, No 2, pp169-180

Lee, J.E. & Watkins, B. (2016) ‘YouTube vloggers’ influence on consumer luxury brand perceptions and intentions.  Journal of Business Research. Vol 69, No 12, pp5753-5760

Muk, A. (2013) ‘What factors influence millennials to like brand pages?’.  Journal of Marketing Analytics. Vol 1, No 3, pp127-137

Reilly, A.H. & Hynan, K.A. (2014) ‘Corporate communication, sustainability, and social media: it’s not easy (really) being green’. Business Horizons. Vol 57, No 6, pp747-758

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