Turn to the explore page on Instagram, and you're likely to be flooded with influencers striking a pose, advertising products, documenting their luxurious travels, or showing you how to dress and do your makeup. Digital-first talent such as the Kistermann sisters have built a hugely engaged, loyal, often global audience, which makes them an effective marketing channel for a direct-to-consumer business.
It was a pleasure interviewing Lisa and Jessica Kistermann at our London offices this week. The twinning duo; Lisa and Jessica Kistermann have been working on creating fashion forward concepts since a young age. There is something strangely magnetic about these 1m80 multicultural background beauties. With dedicated followers on their Instagram channel @crimelondon, these well-known and influential fashion influencers and entrepreneurs are fast growing to be one of the dominant forces in Europe.
When influencers own their own brand, the affiliation will be incredibly strong. Many fashion brands are moving toward a direct-to-consumer model in line with consumer behaviour and spending. A digital talent doing it brings that added level of audience relationship which, when done right, can be powerful.
The Kistermann sisters are representative of a wider trend sweeping fashion: influencers who have gone from fronting fashion brands to launching their own labels. Both women already knew how to build an audience online.
"Instagram is our safe space, so we used it to share our journey and, crucially, to test the market and see if there was interest," the Kistermann sisters explain. "We would get people involved by asking them to vote on what colours they liked or what we should name a product. It built a personal attachment between customers and the brand. Customers now want more from brands. They want to know the story and the people behind them. When we were initially talking to major retailers for @crimelondon, they mentioned that the audience participation in the brand was something that made it stand out."
Influencers are well connected, often interested in fashion and hold a powerful sway over their followers, so transitioning from working with brands to launching their own fashion labels is a natural progression for many.
A built-in, receptive audience is certainly a boon for fledgling brands, but it is not a panacea. Influencers hoping to break into fashion still have to take sourcing, cashflow and customer expectations into account when launching their own labels according to the Kistermann sisters.
This is a trend that is only gathering momentum. "The level of interaction we have with our audience is key. If we need to know whether a proposed look is desirable, or a breakdown of quantities across sizes for different regions is accurate, we can reach out to our followers and get this information just by asking them." Lisa Kistermann notes with a grin.
Fashion buying and marketing is heavily driven by influencers today both from transaction and marketing perspective. Influencers are more relatable and their content does not come across as promotional which creates a much deeper impact on consumers. The proliferation of the internet has led to high content consumption especially in the form of photos and videos.
The trend for influencers launching their own fashion brands looks unlikely to wane, as more seek to capitalise on their large audiences. Influencers hoping to start a label, or retailers seeking to stock it, need to look past follower numbers and ensure that the brand can stand on its own two feet when it comes to product, design and business fundamentals.
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