Can fashion bloggers become brands?

Discussion
Photo: Something Navy
Oct 22, 2018

Nordstrom this year has come out with three standalone collections completely tied to star social influencers.

In April, Nordstrom partnered with Julia Engel, creator of the style blog, Gal Meets Glam, on a dress range under her blog name. Ms. Engel has 1.2 million Instagram followers.

In mid-September, the department store retailer introduced the Chriselle Lim Collection, named for the founder of The Chriselle Factor blog which counts 1.1. million Instagram followers and 760,000 YouTube subscribers.

On September 24, Nordstrom launched a women’s collection under the name of Something Navy, the style blog created by Arielle Charnasm, which has 1.1 million Instragram followers.

The launch of Chriselle Lim Collection and Something Navy both earned profiles in People, US Weekly and a number of fashion magazines. But Ms. Charnas’ collection earned the most attention. On launch day, the collection pulled in between $4 million to $5 million and Nordstrom’s website crashed briefly, according to Business of Fashion.

As was the case with Ms. Engel and Ms. Lim, Ms. Charnas helped design Something Navy and is supporting the line on her social channels and via in-store appearances. All the brands are exclusive to Nordstrom.

“With Something Navy, we are able to give our customers an exclusive new brand based on Arielle’s unique aesthetic,” said Jennifer Jackson Brown, president of Nordstrom Product Group, in a statement. “The brand will expand into additional categories each season, reinforcing our commitment to introduce exciting new product regularly.”

The launch of Something Navy followed a collaboration last fall between Ms. Charnas and Nordstrom’s in-house label, Treasure & Bond, that sold over $1 million in just 24 hours.

Such collaborations are becoming more common. Bloomingdale’s, for instance, just partnered with one blogger to design a capsule for its private label line, Aqua. In another exclusive range, the retailer partnered with denim brand Seven for All Mankind and contemporary apparel maker Splendid.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see retail collaborations with lifestyle bloggers on curated collections as more of a fad or a trend? Is the bigger opportunity developing standalone brands with such online influencers or limited-edition collaborations to support existing brands?

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Braintrust
"Retail collaboration with with lifestyle bloggers will likely become a trend, as it is a great way to leverage a blogger that has a passionate fan base."
"Retailers’ collaborations with fashion bloggers and influencers are an agile way to tap into built-in fan bases..."
"Since influencers have such a loyal following, I think the bigger opportunity is developing standalone brands with online influencers."

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16 Comments on "Can fashion bloggers become brands?"


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Carol Spieckerman
BrainTrust

Retailers’ collaborations with fashion bloggers and influencers are an agile way to tap into built-in fan bases, the existence of which validates those influencers’ ability to engage viewers. Fashion bloggers often post the products and brands that they are using so why not just promote products that they had a hand in designing? Retailers can move in and out of these relationships, adding a layer of newness and excitement to their core brand stories. The only caution is that retailers such as Nordstrom are fairly small scale in terms of brick and mortar. Providing direct links and promoting online availability will be critical to these brands’ success.

Evan Snively
BrainTrust
Evan Snively
Loyalty Strategist, Chapman & Co. Leadership Institute
2 years 9 months ago

I agree that online distribution is key for these partnerships, Carol. I see limited-edition being the way to go for most of these influencer co-ops with the potential for a few to become more long-standing after analyzing the sales and consumers’ true affinity for the label.

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

First it was exclusive brands built around celebrity names, then reality show “stars” followed. (And this doesn’t even count the short-duration designer promotions pioneered by Target and H&M.) It’s no surprise that fashion bloggers are the new “authorities” (and perhaps more so than a TV star who lends her name to a licensing deal).

The trend potentially has legs based on the results so far, and based on the endless supply of fashion bloggers with huge numbers of “followers” on social media. It certainly looks like a win for Nordstrom so far, in part because of the cost-effective and targeted marketing tied into those blog followers. The risk is oversaturation of the idea, as other retailers jump on the bandwagon — just as the celebrity endorsement trend may have hit bottom with the Kardashian Kollection.

Anne Howe
Guest

I see this as a trend toward appproachable design at price points that the average woman is ready and able to pay. Nordstrom is smart to collaborate with real women who have style and an active follower base and who crave style on a reasonable budget.

Mohamed Amer
BrainTrust
Mohamed Amer
Independent Board Member, Investor and Startup Advisor
2 years 9 months ago

Retailers are looking at the intersection of their customer base (or niches within it) with followers of lifestyle bloggers on social media. This is more about pull-style merchandising and branding which mines strong and existing customer sentiments.

These lifestyle statements are becoming relevant markers of self-identity and expression that can launch and sustain new targeted brands. While the longevity and staying power of these type of brands are uncertain, an agile and intelligent business can launch and take advantage of these new social forces as well as quickly shift investments when appropriate.

Cynthia Holcomb
BrainTrust

GalMeetsGlam is quintessential Nordstrom! The look and feel — so Nordstrom.
Julia Engel is a lifestyle and a proven brand all in one. The match between Nordstrom and Ms. Engel’s 1.2 million Instagram followers creates a power brand — fast forwarding through the years it takes to build a new Nordstrom private brand and cementing a whole new generation of Nordstrom shoppers.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

This is a great way to tap into assortments that are on trend with built-in audiences. However, I do wonder if the influencers’ influence will wane if their objectivity (and hence their authenticity) is perceived as compromised by these collaborations. Not necessarily a prediction, but I do think it is something to watch…

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

Instagram has become the theater that is our daily lives, a place where we seek inspiration, ideas, and to build relationships with our fellow community members. Indie fashion and beauty influencers that have done things right have monetized on this platform, and retailers are wise to jump on the bandwagon, as this is a hot space now. What better place for retailers to experiment with up and coming brands who have significant followers? And it’s a lower-risk proposition, especially if done with agility and low inventory ownership.

This is a prime time for experimentation and an entrepreneurial spirit.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Influencer marketing is trending up over the last few years. When someone follows an influencer, it is because of connection and trust. This is spokesperson marketing, but the difference is it’s not a traditional celebrity, but a person who has created a following because of what s/he believes in. Everything from fashion to politics — virtually any topic — can have influencers that create new trends, help form public opinion and more. The concern I would have for the influencer is if s/he “cashes out” and becomes so tied to the brand that the commercialization of their opinions and ideas start to blend in with traditional advertising.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

I think this is a potentially precarious path. One the one hand there is no denying the power social media influencers — human and AI — have on their followers and/or communities. So linking products to the most popular influencers just seems to make good sense. On the other hand, when those linkages become obvious, there may be a counter-influencer wave — especially since so many “followers” are obsessed with concepts like originality, authenticity, values commerce, etc. Influencers could come to be seen as commercial Judas goats leading thousands of Millennials and Gen Zers to the commercial slaughter at the hands of manipulating marketers. It looks like a good idea today — and it may well be — but it could just as easily turn into a tightrope tomorrow.

David Naumann
BrainTrust
David Naumann
Marketing Strategy Lead - Retail, Travel & Distribution, Verizon
2 years 9 months ago

Retail collaboration with with lifestyle bloggers will likely become a trend, as it is a great way to leverage a blogger that has a passionate fan base. Consumers may feel that the fashion blogger they follow is more authentic than a brand, which may inspire them to buy the merchandise they are featuring in their Instagram posts or blogs.

The risk for the blogger is that if they appear too promotional, they will become less authentic and lose followers. It is a fine line…

Ralph Jacobson
Guest

I see people of all ages following fashion bloggers. So for now I see this is a definable trend. Those retailers and brands that connect with these influencers will attract that specific audience for certain. Again, at least for now. Who knows what we’ll be doing next year.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

Absolutely. If “trust” is a baseline for brand, then absolutely a blogger can be a brand. They can be a go-to source that will save time and aggravation for the consumer. Famous or not, it will be about integrity and consistency, just like any brand.

Kai Clarke
BrainTrust

Branding is becoming less and less of a factor in the purchasing decision as we have seen the growth of house brands over the last few years. Shifting the nomenclature to a more recognized fashion blogger’s name is a good step to promote a new brand, but it may come at the cost of house branding. The true key to this success may still reside in pricing and product value rather than naming. Only time will tell for each brand in each category.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust

This is one step in the direction of customization. When the blogger has an identifiable and loyal base, that can be a great target market if those people fit within the retailer’s overall target market. Understanding what the followers of a particular blogger like and tailoring a collection to them is great customization. In addition there is great flexibility. One issue might be that the blogger could have an international or national audience with limited numbers in one market creating a challenge for distribution. The fashion bloggers may or not become brands but certainly offer the potential for customization.

Jennifer McDermott
Guest

I see retail collaboration with lifestyle bloggers as a trend, and one that is becoming more popular as social platforms expand their offerings to users and businesses.

Since influencers have such a loyal following, I think the bigger opportunity is developing standalone brands with online influencers. When brands collaborate with influencers they have the opportunity to tap into a customer base that have proven to be brand loyal. Using real people to represent a brand is, in my opinion, a great way for brands to build and grow trust.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Retail collaboration with with lifestyle bloggers will likely become a trend, as it is a great way to leverage a blogger that has a passionate fan base."
"Retailers’ collaborations with fashion bloggers and influencers are an agile way to tap into built-in fan bases..."
"Since influencers have such a loyal following, I think the bigger opportunity is developing standalone brands with online influencers."

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