Influencer marketing has swept the fashion industry. The recent Netflix hit Emily in Paris makes light of this fact, albeit in a way that doesn’t quite tackle how influencer marketing really works in the fashion industry.

But influencer marketing is much more than that show suggests. Influencer content has replaced the billboards and two-page magazine spreads of the past as the central marketing tactic for many brands. Fashion influencer marketing can make or break a brand in the social media age we live in.

Here we’ll take a look at the innovative influencer tactics that fashion brands of all sizes are using today to grow their customer base, foster trust, and sell their products.

Chapters:

  1. What is fashion influencer marketing?
  2. Why it matters
  3. How to create an influencer marketing strategy
  4. How 16 brands run fashion influencer marketing campaigns
  5. Find your influencers

What is fashion influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that promotes a brand or product using endorsements and product placements in exchange for payment. Usually, influencer marketing takes place on social media platforms. It’s how unknown brands become huge and compete with — or even eclipse — established giants like Nike and Victoria’s Secret.

It’s especially prevalent for the beauty and apparel industries. We recently surveyed over 14,000 global consumers to find out how they’re shopping on social. For every industry (apart from food and beverage), consumers are shopping more on social media than in-store. But for beauty and apparel, the homes of fashion influencers, social media is overwhelmingly the favorite.

Source: Bazaarvoice social shopping survey

This is how influencers like Christian Garcia have dominated the fashion market through social media, where he has 600,000+ followers on Instagram. His followers use his account as a place to keep up with fashion and beauty brands, and he’s even able to boast appearances from celebrities like Megan Trainor and Bhad Bhabie. A young rap artist, for those unfamiliar. 

Why fashion influencer marketing matters

In fashion, influencer marketing is particularly vital to brand awareness, conversions, and greater profits. It makes up 86% of the total earned media value of the top 30 fashion brands. 

Today, influencers who were once in a paid-post relationship with their brand have now become product collaborators.

This past year, Forbes states digital marketing strategists determined that “micro” accounts — or small influencer accounts — were just as profitable for fashion as macro accounts. That’s because the smaller accounts connect more deeply on a personal level with their followers. This means their interactions will be more impactful since the influencers are seen more as popular peers.

Image source: Bazaarvoice influencer strategy webinar

The numbers speak for themselves. In 2021, the market size of global influencer marketing was valued at a jaw-dropping $13.8 billion (more than double what it was in 2019). And according to Globe Newswire, it could reach $9.2 billion by 2026.

This fast growth is spurred by millennials’ and Gen Z’s heavy reliance on fashion influencers. Half of social media users between the ages of 16 and 34 report following fashion influencers, which is more than any other industry.

Fast fashion brand Boohoo has seen excellent results by investing in influencer marketing. The company pays celebrities to promote its products through Instagram to an audience of 16- to 24-year-old fans. As a result, its profits doubled.

Benefits of using influencers

Influencer marketing benefits brands in a number of ways.

  • Builds trust with your audience especially Gen Z and millennials.
  • Grows revenue because customers are more willing to buy from people they trust.
  • Increases brand awareness and engagement. Influencers are doing the heavy lifting in terms of creating content and cultivating a community.
  • Helps you glean customer insights, like customer sentiment.
  • Flattens the sales funnel. Customers are discovering brands and buying products as a direct result of influencers.
  • Helps you reach new demographics. Micro- and nano-influencers can introduce your brand to niche audiences.
  • Helps luxury brands become more approachable with authentic content created and shared by someone your audience already knows and likes.
  • Generates a new need for products. Fans and followers are interested in what influencers like, so they may consider a product that they never previously wanted.
  • Enables you to quickly connect with customers when trends change, like the post-pandemic loose-fit jeans below.
Fashion influencer marketing
Image source: TikTok

How to create your influencer marketing strategy

Before beginning your search for a fashion influencer, you’ll need to come up with a strategy.

Determine your campaign objectives

You’ll need to decide exactly what you want your campaign results to look like. This could mean driving brand awareness, discovering/appealing to a new audience, driving engagement, or gleaning customer insights. You will also want these to be measurable. One of the benefits of marketing through social media is that the measurements will always be at your fingertips.

Choose the channel

Where is your target audience hanging out? You’ll want to choose an influencer who has a large, engaged audience on that channel. This may involve doing some research to determine what medium your audience uses. You will need to gather demographic information about your audience, such as age, gender, race, location, and more, to help you know what social media channel they are using.

Decide how you want influencers to promote your brand

Post pictures, videos, reels, and live events on social channels. Highlight the brand by tagging it or using branded hashtags, wearing the brand in a video or at a class, mentioning it on a podcast, or repurposing influencer content on owned channels like your website and emails. Each of these methods can have different benefits. For example, posting pictures and videos can hit a wider audience over a longer period of time, while live events can be very personal and create a strong connection with your audience.

How 16 brands run stellar fashion influencer marketing campaigns

16 brands might seem excessive. Admittedly there’s many examples to follow. But one or two isn’t enough. You need to take in enough visuals to paint the overall picture of what other brands are doing. You need to see options so you can narrow down the type of influencer you want in your strategy. Because the right influencers are integral to successful fashion brands.

Here’s our favourite examples of fashion influencer marketing tactics to try for your own brand.

Feature influencer content in email marketing

Social media is the obvious choice, but many fashion brands now feature influencer content in their email marketing campaign. Do it like DWS and include fun design elements or text overlays.

Fashion influencer marketing

Don’t forget to credit the influencer with their social handles.

Dedicate a landing page to influencer picks

Publish influencer content on a dedicated page of your website. Like Loft, you can include influencer picks and preferences and a link in your main navigation.

Fashion influencer marketing
Image source: Loft

Using images of influencers on a “style assist” page can inspire your audience with new style ideas and purchasing suggestions.

Fashion influencer marketing
Image source: Loft

This will help you fill in content and make your brand seem more authentic. Plus, online customers will feel like they are receiving real stylist help even though they aren’t meeting someone in real life.

Advertise on influencer-led podcasts

Advertising on influencer-led podcasts helps brands reach a younger audience that dislikes traditional ads. Conair has been advertised on Off the Vine, led by former Bachelorette and Bachelor contestant Kaitlyn Bristowe.

Image source: Instagram

The podcast has 195k followers on Instagram, and Bristowe herself has 2M followers, so having her read the ad carries the potential to reach and influence a massive audience.

Make it easy for influencers to sign up

Once you’ve identified a fashion influencer marketing strategy, you need to find influencers that align closely with your brand and values. One easy way to do this is to include a straightforward signup box for ambassadors to join the influencer program. For example, Conair includes a link to its signup box in the footer of its website.

Image source: Conair

Glow Recipe does something similar with its Glow Pro Program. It’s a partnership between the brand and professional makeup artists and estheticians. Glow Pro gives these professionals product discounts and early access to new products, in addition to featuring their work on the brand’s social channels.

Discover everyday influencers

You should encourage everyday users to drive brand engagement through user-generated content (UGC). When your fans want to find you or share their UGC, make it very simple to do so by posting your branded hashtags in your bio, as Conair does.

Image source: Instagram

Branded hashtags carry an added bonus: your influencers will all send your followers to the same location.

Partner with celebrity influencers

Conair also partners with famous influencers to create co-branded products and campaigns like this Wild Primrose one with influencer @sazan and the @scunci and @walmart brands.

Image source: Instagram

The brand went on to partner with singer/songwriter @ashleysuppa, whose band @plushrocks has 29.6k followers on Instagram.

Image source: Instagram

Partnering with micro-influencers like this can help brands connect with new, niche audiences.

Create compilation videos on TikTok

Once you’ve collected some compelling UGC, you can compound the influence of a handful of users by creating a compilation video on TikTok. For example, Conair combines different user-generated videos and review posts into one ad.

Image source: TikTok

To extend your reach even more and have fun with a slightly different tone, create an alter ego TikTok account like @conairman that comments on the regular brand posts.

There is arguably no better platform for fashion influencer marketing than IG. If you feature influencers on your home page, link their image to your product page where shoppers can purchase what the influencer was wearing, as Nothing New does.

Image source: Nothing New

This approach also encourages new social shares when you suggest a branded hashtag.

The Marks and Spencer brand also created a strong Instagram presence by posting trending styles on its main website, then tagging the influencers who originally styled and posted the image.

Image source: M&S

Invite influencers to write guest blogs

Besides visual content, influencers can also assist your brand in writing guest posts for your blog. For example, Primary (a children’s apparel brand) posted a blog written by guest contributor Amelia about the ways families can celebrate Earth Day.

Fashion influencer marketing
Image source: Primary

This type of guest post works well because the influencer has an engaged, niche audience of 7.7K followers on her Instagram, @mtnmamatales, that is interested in her content and will flock to Primary’s website. She also offers engagement via her Outdoor Family Chat Facebook group, camping books, camping courses, as well as her own blog, Tales of a Mountain Mama.

Tag an expert

Below, Sephora has taged Sephora Collection National Artist @helenkphillips. In the same post, it features (and tags) different branded products like @fentybeauty Eaze Drop Blurring Skin Tint.

Fashion influencer marketing
Image Source: Instagram

Tagging experts and complementary brands helps to increase your own brand awareness and authority.

Create co-branded products with a celebrity

Partnering with celebrities that fit your brand’s values and target audience is always a strong strategy. They may endorse your brand and wear your products publicly, where they’ll be noticed and mentioned in the media.

Celebrities may even help you create a new co-branded product, like Nike’s co-branded sneaker with LeBron James and Kylian Mbappé. The brand posted and tagged the celebrities on social media with videos of kids playing sports while wearing the shoes.

Image source: Instagram

Additionally, Tiffany & Co. partnered with K-pop star Roseanne Park, letting her redesign some of its fashion lines to create and model her own #TiffanyHardWear line.

Image source: LinkedIn

Tiffany & Co. tagged other influencers and creators on Instagram to showcase the HardWear designs, such as this post where it tagged the jewelry designer Elsa Peretti.

Image source: Instagram

The post even includes a link to the designer’s official shop, and both include a branded hashtag to encourage more UGC.

Use TikTok transitions

TikTok’s transitions make it easy to showcase multiple items quickly, and it’s a tactic that’s perfectly suited for fashion influencers. For example, influencer Elizabeth Pehota posted this TikTok to showcase Elie Tahari tops.

Fashion influencer marketing
Image source: TikTok

Create TikTok challenges

Brands can also take advantage of popular TikTok challenges to discover new audiences and seem more approachable. Videos related to the #chanelchallenge have earned over 5.8 billion views. In it, creators like @ingyinkhine55 choose seemingly random and/or secondhand pieces of clothing to put together an outfit.

Image source: TikTok

The end of the video shows snapshots of a photoshoot where the creator models the outfit like a Chanel model. Similar challenges exist for other luxury fashion brands like Dior and Gucci.

Assemble an all-star cast for outfits

Lesser-known brands can gain great exposure from influencers who pair pieces from multiple brands, like this post from @janetgunngratefulgardenia.

Image source: Instagram

In the post, she tags each item’s brand like @elietahari and includes popular hashtags like #ootdinspiration (meaning “outfit of the day” inspiration), which inspire fashion aficionados and help them discover brands.

Curate a best-seller box

Collaborate with other brands to create a best-seller collection. To celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, Glow Recipe partnered with eight other AAPI-founded beauty brands to create a curated best-seller box and shared its unboxing on social media.

Fashion influencer marketing
Image source: TikTok

The strategy created an opportunity for each brand’s audience to discover other brands. It was also an effective way to show solidarity with other founders and the AAPI community — for each box purchased, Glow Recipe donates $10 to organizations that support the AAPI community.

Pursue media mentions with influencer content

You probably already know that influencers mention brands on TikTok and Instagram. But they can also give brands some extra social proof by mentioning them in articles they write for magazines like Insider.

Image source: Insider

In the above example, writer and aesthetician Emma Freece recommends 10 different beauty products, including brands like Glow Recipe, which is featured in the main image. Freece also posts how-to videos, hauls, reviews, and unboxing videos on TikTok, where she has 78.3K followers.

Answer common questions

Influencers can offer authentic and trustworthy responses to common customer questions about a product or style. For example, Sephora launched #SephoraSquad in 2019 through the paid ambassador marketing platform Fohr. One of the Squad members, @rochellemoncheri, posts Stories, Highlights, and Reels on IG, answering common questions like “How do I avoid flakey foundation?”

Fashion influencer marketing
Image source: Instagram

The above post earned over 3k likes. This is a natural way for influencers and brand ambassadors to provide value for current and prospective customers while also creating engaging content for the brand.

Focus on shared values

Besides generating how-to content and tips, successful influencer programs like Vuori’s spread a brand’s purpose through a focus on shared values like sustainability and community. Its partner athletes and fitness enthusiasts share what they like about Vuori.

Image sources: Instagram

Additionally, the brand features community leaders who share their values of creating positive change, like ICU nurse @adleyparriott.

Image source: Instagram

Due to authentic marketing tactics like this, Vuori is competing with big names like Nike and lululemon.

Inspire everyday users

Thanks to the oversaturated ad space, everyday users crave authenticity. One way to appeal to them is by inspiring them with inclusive messaging, as Savage x Fenty has done.

Image source: Instagram

The brand’s body-positive messaging clearly resonates with and inspires everyday users. In fact, its TikTok haul videos have earned 334.1M views.

The brand is closing in on becoming the market leader in women’s lingerie, thanks in large part to inspiring UGC as well as paid partnerships like the one above.

Lean on famous influencers for rebrands

If your brand needs an overhaul due to changing trends or media backlash, lean into fashion influencers to recast your brand in a positive light and take your marketing in a new direction.

Victoria’s Secret missed the boat on body positivity, and multiple TikTok videos portrayed the brand negatively. To recover, VS partnered with influencers like Megan Rapinoe, Eileen Gu, and Paloma Elsesser to rebrand itself as more body positive and inclusive.

Now users are posting UGC on Instagram, modeling products in more inclusive shapes and sizes.

Image source: Instagram

The rebrand seems to be working. Now VS is focused on comfort with a new Love Cloud Collection.

Embrace augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) isn’t just for serious gamers — now it’s infiltrating the fashion world. American Eagle partnered with @dressx to celebrate Earth month with digital jeans. In the campaign, everyday users were encouraged to purchase digital jeans and use an AR app to try them on — including a water superpower. Then the users received their photos via email so they could share them on social media.

Fashion influencer marketing
Image source: Instagram

This technique engages tech fans and sustainability-minded users while helping them create interesting social media content.

Find your influencers

Finding your influencers is essential to reaching your brand’s market. So you need to know how to reach out to them. These influencers can engage current fans and expose your brand to new audiences. Now that you know the benefits of fashion influencer marketing, reach out to everyday users who are already posting UGC. Or partner with an agency or platform that handles this.

If you don’t want to spend time searching or don’t know which influencer directory is the best one, start with ours. BV’s Sampling program puts your products into the hands of an influencer with an engaged audience. In exchange, you receive authentic UGC for use across multiple channels. What are you waiting for?


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