Are Designers Doing Themselves a Disservice By Using Influencers to Sell Bags?

Fashion has gone social, but at what point is it doing more harm than good?

Last summer, Dior relaunched its iconic Saddle Bag and immediately it was clear that the bag was going to be a big push for the brand moving forward. The re-launch of the Saddle Bag was obviously backed by a huge marketing budget as the return of this once beloved it-bag was impossible to ignore. While the brand did use a few more traditional marketing outlets such as ad campaigns and online ads to market the bag, the biggest push towards selling the new Dior Saddle bag came from everyone’s favorite love-to-hate or hate-to-love modern day ad: influencers. The Saddle Bag flooded our social media feeds, and when we covered the launch ourselves, readers were quick to point out the overwhelming number of social media call outs of the Dior Saddle Bag.

Gifting influencers and celebrities has become the norm, and Dior was not the first brand to receive backlash surrounding this sort of push. Contemporary designers have been accused of oversaturing themselves via social media as well, and while I don’t at all mind seeing how influencers style certain bags, I was not surprised when The Cut published an article coining the term ‘uninfluencers’. Clever and witty, the term refers to being turned off from a product or service simply because it was backed by an influencer.

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meetings around the city with this vry cute @coach #CoachNY #TabbyBag ??

A post shared by elsa hosk (@hoskelsa) on Aug 22, 2019 at 5:08am PDT

Working in the industry that I do, I’m responsible for covering new bags, and that means being aware of what is coming from designers months before the bags will even be seen in ad campaigns or on online shopping websites. By the time a bag is seen on the arm of a social media influencer (often just prior or on the same day that a bag drops for sale online) I’ve already formed an opinion on a bag. While I’m getting bit tired of the instagram scene in general, I do enjoy seeing how products I like (or already own) are styled. However it’s not often that my love for a bag is based solely on someone I’ve seen carry it, and according the The Cut, social media often does just the opposite, sometimes turning someone off altogether from a product they once loved or wanted.

Many designers are coordinating huge social media campaigns to promote their bags. This means that they use tactics like gifting bags for exposure or paying for sponsored social media placement, and it’s now common to see every influencer on your feed carrying the same bag. While social media is a large part of what I do, I’ve streamlined my personal following, unfollowing many influencers and keeping up with a select few only.

The social media landscape is huge and ever changing, which is part of the appeal for big brands. You may not like one influencer, but chances are you can relate to the style and values of another, which is why brands will outfit a massive amount of influencers at a time with a new bag. Not to mention, though there are a handful of bloggers who have been around since the beginning, it’s hard to follow every one.

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V? #VRing @maisonvalentino anzeige

A post shared by Xenia Adonts (@xeniaadonts) on Mar 14, 2019 at 7:13am PDT

To give a definitive answer on the topic would be presumptuous as the true answer is: I simply don’t know if this tactic is doing more harm than good for brands. The return on investment seems to work as certain designers and brands continue to use the tactic, and I think a lot of it depends on the average age of a brand’s consumer, but these big pushes also seem to be aggravating some consumers. Though it is basically considered a necessity at this point for brands to have a social media presence, it should be carefully cultivated and organic, with a select number of accounts or influencers marketing a certain product. Additionally, a more streamlined approach would include a continuous flow of curated content versus the, now normal, approach of flooding social media on a given day. These ‘drop day’ posts often end up alienating some consumers and turning them off from a product all together. A less-is-more approach could arguably be more effective.

At what point though is it too much? I’m not opposed to following influencers to some degree and even I have reached the point where enough is enough. There is some novelty to buying a bag that not everyone has, and at a certain point an item does become less interesting the more it’s thrown in my face. Consumers are seeing the same bags over and over again, and with so many choices in the market it’s easy to move away from a specific bag (or even a brand altogether to take it to an extreme).