From a handbag that costs more than most cars, to shoes too expensive ever to wear on an actual street, luxury fashion retains a unique prestige even now, in the age of fast and dirty consumerism.
But while this rarefied sector may have held on to its traditional allure, it has not always necessarily moved quite so fluidly with the needs and behaviours of its consumers.
This is especially true when it comes to how quickly and enthusiastically luxury brands have recognized the value and relevance of influencer marketing.
In fact, in a survey conducted by Fashion & Beauty Monitor, 59% of luxury brands were only allocating 10% of their overall marketing spend to influencer marketing. Meanwhile, the same survey revealed that almost half of those brands had only included influencer marketing as an active part of their strategy for a year.
But, with influencer marketing having such demonstrable success in more ‘mass’ markets – and it being so indelibly linked with fashion and trend conversations – are fashion’s fanciest names missing a trick?
Now, the truth is that it doesn’t take an expert pair of eyeballs to recognise that Instagram and luxury fashion are almost perfectly matched to one another’s needs.
On the one hand, Instagram has carved a niche (if a platform boasting 800 million active users could ever be described as niche) for inspirational fashion and trend-led content. Meanwhile, luxury brands can’t have failed to notice that the very people they want to sell their finery to are deeply committed to a relationship with Instagram.
In fact, the luxury brand customer is a particularly active and purposeful member of the Instagram community. 58% of luxury consumers, from some of that market’s key countries, use Instagram as a way to stay up to date with the latest trends and styles. Also, 51% of those valuable customers use Instagram to follow celebrities – purely so they can know what luxury brands their famous role-models are choosing.
So it’s hardly jaw-dropping to learn that Instagram has seen year-on-year growth of 53% within the luxury fashion sector– with brands (finally) recognising what a significant role the platform plays in the lives of the kind of person who only ever buys the very best.
One area in which more and more luxury brands have been persuaded of influencer marketing’s unique powers is in the live events that dominate the industry calendar.
The fashion weeks, around which the critical and commercial success of these big luxury businesses revolve, have become a gateway for brands to test the influence and reach of their content creator partners.
Now, at any fashion week in any of the major fashion capitals, you will find luxury brands bringing content creators into their sacred, inner space – whether that’s incorporating them into the runway shows or styling them to create content (and buzz) away from the catwalk.
And you probably won’t be surprised to hear that Instagram has responded to this kind of content and access with stunning engagement figures. Indeed, Instagram engagements relating to fashion week tripled (er, yes, tripled) from February’s fashion month to the September fashion weeks in New York, London, Milan and Paris. And in that time, 143 million users generated an astonishing 709 million interactions.
So, while a cinematic TV spot and a semi-pretentious press campaign may have been enough to shift some wildly expensive fashion item back in the day, luxury brands are starting to see that even the most glamorous conversations go much further with a hashtag.