It wasn’t an easy season for the posers and pouters in London — the bloggers, influencers and mixed bag of attention-seekers who found themselves eclipsed by the antics of antifur campaigners outside show venues and by a group of frustrated street style photographers seeking justice.
Between the angry chants of the Surge protestors, “Shame on you!” and “Blood on your hands!” and the photographers looking — rightfully — to get paid for all the free photos they snap of the street style stars, there was little attention left over for the poseurs.
It might have been a one-off season, but that’s not likely.
All the exhibitionism outside the London show venues could well be off the agenda for a while: The photographers, who adopted the hashtag “#NoFreePhotos” as their mantra, aren’t going anywhere, the protestors are promising more action and things are looking grim for the street stylers — at least the ones who prefer parties and freebies to actual work.
The photographer Adam Katz Sinding, a longtime street style snapper who plans to publish “This is Not a F*cking Street Style Book” early next year, said he and his colleagues came up with the hashtag in order to raise awareness around the dynamics of the social media marketing business.
“There’s an imbalance in the industry, which needs to be addressed, and we all just want to be treated with a little bit of respect, that’s it,” Sinding told WWD. He believes photographers’ fees need to be an essential part of the conversation between the brands and the influencers whom they pay to promote them.
“We all just want to be treated with a little bit of respect. We don’t want to get rich or be influencers. We just want to make a living and not have people making their living off our backs. We are seen as a passive entity” right now, a wellspring of photos that people can use free of charge, he said.
Sinding isn’t the only one who’s been calling into question the role that influencers, large and small, play, and why brands feel the need to use them as a marketing tool.
Caragh McKay, a writer and cofounder of McKay Gurney, the London-based watch and jewelry consultancy, said she’s flummoxed by the influencer trend, “mainly because most of the brands I work with have such strong identities. Why are they not confident in their own influence?”
She believes influencers are “a corporate knee-jerk reaction in engaging Millennials. It has a whiff of dad dancing in too-tight jeans. The influencers are just an extension of corporate awkwardness,” and brands need to have more confidence in themselves.
“Key jewelery and watch houses have survived two world wars and the cultural earthquake that was the Sixties. I’m minded that Cartier launched Cipullo’s nail and screwdriver designs in 1972. Punks — disruptors extraordinaire — started wearing their own versions of those designs three years later. Who’s the influencer there?” she said.
Even the big agencies that represent the influencers say there’s a major distinction between those who work with integrity and honesty and the lightweights. Some even say the trend now is about influencers with expertise rather than those with just a high profile and lots of followers.
“For a while we’ve been seeing brands opting to work directly with the ‘experts on the subject,’ the makeup artist or the photographer who works with the celebrity, who may not have as big an audience on social media but who are relevant to a brand,” said Gil Eyal, chief executive officer and cofounder of Hypr, the influencer search and discovery directory that helps brands with audience analytics.
Eyal pointed to Bryant Eslava, Cameron Dallas’ photographer; Patrick Ta, the celebrity makeup artist, and Mario Dedivanovic, Kim Kardashian’s makeup artist — who have all been scoring lucrative brand gigs of late.
Aline Moulin-Conus, managing partner at E-Notam Ltd., the online marketing agency that works with brands on social, said companies are becoming increasingly demanding with regard to the influencers they employ.
“They want more input on content,” she said, and the influencers who will remain in the game are the ones — surprise! — who work the hardest and who have the most integrity, “the ones who stay with the job 24/7, who do their homework — and don’t complain.”
Bring on the season of the hard-working class.