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?’.https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/professional/can-fashions-new-activists-make-sustainability-sexy
Forbes (2020). ‘Why Sustainability Is Becoming as Important as Influencers in Fashion’. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2019/10/04/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’. https://www.theseus.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/171341/Kaulbars-Staudinger_Emilia.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=y
McKeown, C (2019). ‘Taking Sustainable Fashion Mainstream: Social Media and the Institutional Celebrity Entrepreneur’. Journal of Consumer Behaviour. Vol. 18, No 5, pp406–14