You need only take a glance at the front row of any high end fashion show in New York, Paris, or Milan to realize that when it comes to trend-setting, it’s fashion bloggers, not magazine editors, who have the final say. For the past few years, up-and-coming bloggers – now labeled as “influencers” – have been wrestling the power away from the Vogues of the world in order to bring their own unique style takes to the under-served masses.
These social entrepreneurs are posting, tweeting, snapchatting, and tumblr-ing their way to big bucks – most get paid by high end brands and advertisers to mention specific lines – and dedicated followings. Blogger Aimee Song reportedly bagged a $500,000 dollar Laura Mercier campaign last year and plenty of her fellow influencers, like Kristina Bazan and The Blonde Salad’s Chiara Ferragni, have scored six-figure deals too.
According to Fohr Card co-founder James Nord, whose company helps connects brands and influencers, bloggers were relatively ignored by the fashion industry until a few years ago.
“They were seen as wannabes, fashion outsiders who wouldn’t and couldn’t make it inside,” Fohr tells Uproxx. “When bloggers started working with top brands and sitting front row, indifference turned to spite and the magazines started lashing out, trying to discredit bloggers, and called it a dying fad. Now, I think magazines are trying to capitalize on the rise in influencer popularity.”
The reasons are simple. With millions of eyes and trusted, authentic voices, the right fashion blogger, one with a distinct point of view, can sell better than any magazine ad or fashion spread.
“You’re not reading an article that has gone through rounds of edits and approvals – you’re following everything they do from the minute they wake up in the morning – what they eat, what they wear and where they go,” Nord says. “There is a relationship there, even if it’s one way and that relationship comes with trust.”
Bloggers also have the ability to affect real change in the industry. From introducing plus-size lines at large retailers to giving a voice to minority communities, influencers are wielding their social power for good these days. Here’s a roundup of bloggers who are using their followings to put the fashion industry on notice.
Chastity Garner / GarnerStyle
Chastity Garner’s blog, GarnerStyle, made the second largest retailer in the country stand up and take notice when she wrote a post a few years ago that ended with a boycott Target hashtag. The fashion blogger was fed up with not being able to find trendy, affordable fashion for her curvy figure at the store and urged her followers to join with her in rebellion. Target got the message, enlisting Garner and a pair of her fellow plus-size fashion bloggers to work on a line that would cater to fuller physiques.
Now, Garner has helped establish CURVYcon, a two day conference that brings plus size brands, bloggers, and Youtubers together to brainstorm ways the industry as a whole can be more inclusive. Oh, and she also has time to write about jumpsuits and button down boob gaps on her blog.
Chriselle Lim / The Chriselle Factor
Chriselle Lim may be one of the most influential Instagrammers now, but when she started her Youtube channel six years ago, she was one of only a handful of Asian Americans impacting the fashion industry. The Korean-American businesswoman and mother blogs regularly about her life, sharing empowering videos on social media and addressing all kinds of style topics. She’s a fan of minimalism when it comes to what she wears but she encourages all of her followers to embark on their own style journey – and to embrace Korean beauty secrets and K-pop.
Jillian Mercado / Manufactured 1987
Jillian Mercado, who was diagnosed with spastic muscular dystrophy as a teen, started blogging six years ago after studying fashion marketing at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. She became disappointed when a quick Google search for models that looked like her turned up empty. Mercado decided to lead the charge herself, getting signed to IMG and booking a Diesel Jeans campaign. Now she’s amassed a legion of followers on Instagram, Tumblr, and her blog, Manufactured 1987, where she shares messages of inspiration for people with disabilities and some killer outfit choices.
Ritu Arya / Razzle Dazzle Pickle
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If you pop over to Ritu Arya’s blog, Razzle Dazzle Pickle, the first thing you’ll notice is how different it is from virtually every other fashion-centric site out there. The twenty-something stylist, design advisor, and music aficionado posts outfit choices not with tips or how-to guides, but with captions that read like lyrics. Her poetry is as lovely as the clothes she wears and Arya works hard to bring her take on fashion, diversity, music, and her own culture to her readers.
Leandra Medine / Man Repeller
Leandra Medine founded Man Repeller in 2010, after deciding women shouldn’t give a f*ck about what men think when it comes to what they wear. Her decidedly feminist take on fashion has expanded to a website and multi-media business meant to empower and educate people on issues like equal pay, sexism, and more, but fashion is still the foundation. Along with pop culture muses on TV shows like The Handmaid’s Tale, the site spotlights new trends in tomboy styles. Come for pieces on skorts and thigh gaps, stay for hilarious, tragic odes to male rompers and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop.
Gabi Gregg / Gabi Fresh
Gabi Gregg started blogging back in 2008 after college but she started a trend of her own when she re-introduced the term “fatkini” in 2011 through an Instagram post. Now, scrolling through the hashtag on social media, the fruits of Gregg’s labor can be seen in plus-size women posting confident selfies in their bikinis. Gregg’s blog, Gabifresh, is a mix of fashion and lifestyle advice. She’s known as a rule-breaker who doesn’t have time for the antiquated laws of the industry elite and she’s ushering in a new wave of body positivity for plus size women with her swimwear collection meant to celebrate the curves.
Dina Torkia / Dina Torkia
Dina Torkia is a UK-Based Egyptian fashion blogger who’s working to open up the fashion industry to Muslim women and those favoring a more modest style. From posting about going make-up free during Ramadan to looking badass in florals and hijabs, Torkia seamlessly blends her culture, faith, and love of clothes into posts meant to inspire and enable a consumer base that’s slowly getting recognition in the industry.
Did we mention she’s also funny as hell? Her comedic side is on display on her Youtube channel, which features videos of her destroying her husband’s wallet, gym fails, and riding camels in Dubai.
Jennifer Nini / Eco Warrior Princess
Jennifer Nini was worrying about things like the environment and ethically produced clothes way before it was cool to do so. The Australian fashion blogger gave up a life of cocktails and modern luxuries in 2010 to move to the “middle of nowhere” Queensland and live on an organic farm. Her blog, Eco Warrior Princess, is as much about cool, comfy clothes as it is about where those clothes come from. Her team fights to provide readers with sustainable fashion resources and guides so that their closets can help reduce our negative impact on this earth.
Sonny Oram / Qwear
Trans rights activist Sonny Oram created Qwear back in 2011 as a safe space for members of the LGBTQ community to convene and converse about their love of fashion. The blog has everything from androgynous wedding style guides to how to cosplay as a plus-size queer woman of color. Qwear features interviews with change-makers in the community and sponsors fashion installations and shows in order to educate and raise awareness about issues faced by queer people.
Sergio Ines / What My Boyfriend Wore
Sergio Ines popular men’s fashion blog started as a joke. His girlfriend at the time began posting photos of him on Tumblr after realizing her man had style. Eventually, he took over the blog, branding it as a site for regular men hoping to tap into their dapper side. From how to wear a stylish pair of chinos to the rules of tie wearing, Sergio’s got advice for any and all fashion queries from guys like him who love style.
Bonus: he’s changing the way men think about what they wear.
Lyn Slater / Accidental Icon
Lyn Slater didn’t mean to brand herself as an Accidental Icon – the name of her popular fashion blog. The 60-something style maven was waiting for a friend outside Lincoln Center in New York when photogs mistook her for a celebrity and started snapping. Her outfit may have turned heads but her blog — dedicated to women in all phases of life looking to embrace their inner fashionistas — is hoping to do more: influence an industry that often discards women of a certain age. The professor at Fordham University has a dedicated following, most of them young women who label her photos on Instagram #lifegoals, and she uses her clout to introduce them to lesser known designers and sustainable fashions.