Identity and Online Advocacy

Instagram Influencers and their Complicated Relationship with Fast Fashion – James von Kelaita

Fashion has not always been as readily accessible as it is today, the once exclusive hobby for the rich and talented has now become an interest of many people across all market sectors. The trends set and enjoyed by these fashion leaders have now become highly accessible and affordable to obtain. This democratisation of fashion can be attributed to many factors including the rise of the internet blogger and in recent years, Instagram influencers and their ability to create branding so strong that they have become integral to the growth of designer and fast fashion brands alike. Social media influencers as described by Hearn and Schoenhoff in their research paper “Self-branding, ‘micro-celebrity’ & the rise of Social Media Influencers” are people who work to “generate a form of ‘celebrity’ capital by cultivating as much attention as possible” this is done through their ability to cultivate “an authentic ‘personal brand” (Khamis, Ang, & Welling, 2016). Social media sites such as Instagram have assisted in fostering these new fashion communities where the barriers to entry have been greatly reduced, now fashion and personal style have become intertwined into our identity and it is magnified through our presentation of self online. Aspirational brands appear more accessible as they are now being marketed toward a much larger audience and this directly coincides with the shift in aspirational people now being influencers and internet celebrities, opposed to traditional celebrities and stars. At what cost has this democratisation and expansion into pop culture had on the fashion industry and more importantly what repercussions will ensue as a result of this accelerated growth. This paper will explore the power of social capital on Instagram and its affects on the presentation of identity in the fashion community, which has led to influencers sacrificing their personal beliefs through performative advocacy in the form of branded content. 

The fashion industry has long maintained a perception of high-class, quality and exclusivity with designer brands tirelessly working toward sustaining this image. So, research directed toward the fashion industry and the repercussions of its craft revealing that textile production accounts for 10% of all carbon emissions produced by humans severely tarnishes the well-kept image of the industry (McFall-Johnsen, 2020). Clothing production has seen an increase of nearly double since 2000 and at its current rate of growth, carbon emissions produced by the industry will see an increase from 10% to 26% by 2050 (McFall-Johnsen, 2020). Putting into perspective, textile production accounts for more carbon emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined, making it the third largest polluting industry in the world (Howell, 2021). However, carbon emissions are not the only consequence felt by the industry, as textile production increases, the rate of “clothing utilisation” (the number of times an item is worn before being disposed of) has reduced by almost a quarter from 200 in the year 2000 to 160 times in 2015 (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2017). This coupled with the fact that 60% of all clothing manufactured is made of synthetic fabrics (Gecseg, 2019) is having an immense environmental impact on the world. Environmental impacts are but one of the major issues encapsulating the fashion industry as the increase in social awareness toward unethical labour and racial inequality has spurred further criticism of the industry. With all of these issues, where do influencers play a role and to what extent do their actions influence choices made by their followers and by the industry as a whole?

The beginning of the democratisation of fashion can be attributed to the rise in cultural relevance of fashion magazine Vogue (Pous, 2013) and later with Anna Wintour’s debut cover as Editor in Chief at Vogue, including model Michaela Bercu in a pair of acid wash Guess jeans (Wintour, 2012) which was in stark contrast to the traditionally styled Vogue cover shoots that incorporated high-end haute couture garments presented in highly unobtainable settings. While this assisted in bringing fashion to the forefront of pop culture, it’s true cultural spread can be linked to the rise of social media and the era of internet blogging. In “The New Gatekeepers of Fashion Week” they describe fashion influencers as needing to “perceive social value, either from their physical appearance, personality, and social status, or by appearing as similar to the receiver” (Holmstedt, 2017), the last point is the key driver in the construction of a relatable identity for influencers. Influencers gave a fresh look into the fashion community through a much more accessible and approachable medium, giving them a voice of authority in the community as opinion leaders. The amateur nature of fashion influencers initially saw great criticism from traditional fashion publications such as Vogue, as their content was not done to the high standard of these magazines however, Instagram and other social medias alike have created a shift in the way content is consumed online favouring what is known as “the attention economy” (Zulli, 2017). The commoditisation of followers attention is an effective strategy in a fast paced landscape and with influencers growing an audience on Instagram through strategic personal branding (Khamis, Ang, & Welling, 2016) they have become personable figure who are perceived with great trust and authority while also becoming the perfect vehicle for branded content. As opposed to traditional fashion magazines that rely on the aspirational selling of brands, fashion influencers have offered a glimpse into the exclusive world of fashion while offering up alternatives through the “trickle-down effect” that occurs in fashion (Topping, 2016).

Influencers recognised this unique position and saw the limitations of promoting aspirational brands to their followers as they were far less accessible, this began a shift toward offering affordable and accessible alternatives to their followers, selling the idea of a trend and the aspirational fulfilment of having an item that is similar to a designer piece. With brands such as Fashionnova, H&M and Zara utilising a highly efficient supply chain, these brands are able to overturn collections that appear similar in cut and shape to designer collections but at a rate that completely overshadows the manufacturing power of designer labels but at a great ethical and environmental cost (Niinimäki, et al., 2020). The short life span of trends accelerated by fast fashion, paired with the highly profitable commoditisation of attention on Instagram (Zulli, 2017) has propelled fashion influencers beyond their initial independent blogging fame. Instagram has carefully crafted a user experience that lends itself to this trend of fast paced consumption, having features that allow brands to integrate ads with influencers’ accounts, providing access for followers to buy the items their favourite influencer is wearing from within the Instagram app (Siegle, 2019). 

In a pursuit to maintain relevance, Instagram influencers saw the potential of trend-based style and fast fashion labels like Fashionnova served as the perfect vehicle for this type of content. While their fast fashion partnerships may have not started out with the intent of creating a highly destructive trend cycle, their immense sway on consumer purchase decisions has accelerated the growth of fast fashion companies immensely. A research survey by the Fashion Retail Academy revealed that 54% of people believed that influencers have played a part in the overall rise in trend based clothing, with 30% of people claiming that they use Instagram for style inspiration (Skeldon, 2019). In an attempt to detach themselves from the traditional fashion community that is largely focused on the promotion of unobtainable brands, Instagram influencers have in turn created a mass trend of disposable clothing which has major repercussions for the planet. While fast fashion offers accessible pieces in a variety of sizes and styles that appeal to a much wider and usually younger demographic, it grossly disregards the immediate and future consequences brought about by the industry (Newcomb, 2020). This however, is not entirely the fault of influencers, their profession requires meticulous crafting of a personal brand with relatability sitting at the forefront of their identity and success, influencers have to be careful not to alienate their followers and fast fashion allows them to create accessible communities for fashion enthusiasts who lack the disposable income to purchase designer items regularly (Newcomb, 2020). With fashion’s impact steadily approaching a 26% carbon emission budget by 2050 (McFall-Johnsen, 2020) it is of great ethical importance that influencers accept some accountability for their actions and in turn accept the responsibility of educating their followers on the various effects of fast fashion (Frost, 2020). Traditional fashion publications have acted as the gatekeepers of the fashion industry for decades, with many fashion journalists having no formal background in journalism as they are usually ex-models, designers and stylists, this has caused their editorial and review pieces to be largely promotional based causing a control on the flow of information (Atle, 2006). Instagram influencers, in contrast, can utilise the affordances of their medium to inform their followers effectively on many issues facing the industry and should accept the responsibility of doing so for their impressionable followers. 

The tides are changing in the sphere of fashion influencers however, with movements such as the cleverly dubbed “slow fashion”, which centres around the ideology of purchasing consciously and attempting to maintain a wardrobe of quality items, it has revealed a glimpse of optimism for the fashion community (Stanton, 2020). Led by figures such as Avery Ginsberg (Ginsberg, Avery Ginsberg (@averyginsberg) | Instagram, 2021) who’s content and clothing brand Ground Cover (Ginsberg, GROUND COVER, 2021) centres around health & wellness and the promotion of ethical consumption, this new wave of fashion influencer has the potential to change purchase behaviour and consumer perception around fashion and could lead to a societal shift away from disposable fashion. Even heritage brands like Hermès are feeling the effect of the trickle-up, with their announcement of their latest handbag being made from mushroom leather (Grobe, 2021).

While Instagram has served as a medium for the fashion community to share and spread knowledge more efficiently than ever before, the pursuit of social relevance has caused a surge in unethical brands growing as a result of the attention economy that drives Instagram’s mass appeal. As influencers have managed to breakdown the gates that have been imposed on the fashion community by the elites, influencers must consider the social responsibility they owe to their followers since becoming the new opinion leaders of the community. In an attempt to continue the prolonged growth and success of the fashion community while also working toward a more environmentally conscious industry. Fashion influencers have the capacity to become a catalyst for change, should they choose to accept the responsibility. 


Atle, H. (2006). Gatekeepers and knowledge diffusion in the fashion industry. Department of Social and Economic Geography Uppsala University.

Charpail, M. (2017). The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world. Retrieved from Sustain Your Style:

Ellen MacArthur Foundation. (2017, 12 1). A New Textile Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future. Retrieved from Ellen MacArthur Foundation:

Frost, E. (2020, November 17). Social media influencers are responsible for glorifying fast fashion. Retrieved from The Boar:

Gecseg, O. (2019, July 8). The Rise of Fashion’s Obsession with Plastic Fibres. Retrieved from The Sustainable Fashion Collective:

Ginsberg, A. (2021). Avery Ginsberg (@averyginsberg) | Instagram. Retrieved from

Ginsberg, A. (2021). GROUND COVER. Retrieved from

Grobe, M. (2021, March). HERMÈS IS TRIPPING ON MUSHROOMS. Retrieved from


Howell, B. (2021, March 31). Top 7 Most Polluting Industries. Retrieved from The Eco Experts :

Khamis, S., Ang, L., & Welling, R. (2016). Self-branding, ‘micro-celebrity’ and the rise of Social Media Influencers. Celebrity Studies, 8(2).

McFall-Johnsen, M. (2020, January 31). These facts show how unsustainable the fashion industry is. Retrieved from World Economic Forum:

Newcomb, M. (2020, August 17). Why Are Influencers Promoting Fast fashion? Retrieved from traackr:,deleted)%20campaign%20recently%20with%20Shein.

Niinimäki, K., Peters, G., Dahlbo, H., Perry, P., Rissanen, T., & Gwilt, A. (2020). The Environmental Price of Fast Fashion. Nature Reviews | Earth & Environment, 1.

Pous, T. (2013, February 6). The Democratization of Fashion: A Brief History. Retrieved from Time Magazine:

Siegle, L. (2019, February 7). How Instagram Influencers Fuel Our Destructive Addiction To Fast Fashion. Retrieved from

Skeldon, P. (2019, October 16). Social influencers have led to the rise in fast fashion, with 30% of shoppers using Instagram for inspiration. Retrieved from Internet Retailing:

Stanton, A. (2020). What Does Slow Fashion Actually Mean? Retrieved from The Good Trade:

Topping, A. (2016, September 29). Vogue editors accused of hypocrisy after declaring war on fashion bloggers.Retrieved from The Guardian:

Wintour, A. (2012, August 14). Honoring the 120th Anniversary: Anna Wintour Shares Her Vogue Story. Retrieved from Vogue:

Zulli, D. (2017). Capitalizing on the look: insights into the glance, attention economy, and Instagram. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 35(2).

15 thoughts on “Instagram Influencers and their Complicated Relationship with Fast Fashion – James von Kelaita

  1. Hi James,

    I found the topic of this paper very interesting to read and well researched. I suspected the fashion industry is a large contributor to carbon emissions and pollution, but I was unaware of the worldwide scale and extent of the issue. These are very sobering statistics and something that also needs to be considered when discussing topics such as climate change. In addition to the environmental cost, this bought to mind some other unethical practices such as forced and child labour in the textile industries and the cruel and unregulated practice of culling of kangaroos to export leather.

    Influencers have already demonstrated their capacity to shift how fashion labels and magazines market their products. I would also like to see more influencers promoting more sustainable and longer lasting clothing and calling out fashion labels who, through their supply chain, support unethical practices. I personally like to support companies who not only create quality products locally but also provide the ability to repair items over their lifetime. Overall this was a great read and has made me consider the impact fast fashion has on the environment.


    Manuel Ortiz

  2. Hi James!

    What an interesting topic!

    As someone who is really invested in the ethical and sustainable fashion industry, I really connected with the points you made about the growth of fast fashion. It really is quite scary.
    Last year I was able to interview Remi Lane, who is a Perth-based ethical and sustainable fashion brand owner. We discussed the way in which fast fashion, whilst rising rapidly is still being contended with the rise of ethical and sustainable fashion. People are getting more educated and more aware of where their clothes are coming from. We also discussed the way in which whilst fast fashion is unethical, it is really accessible and affordable for most people.
    Ethical clothing brands often offer high-quality products that will last years and even decades. But are often shown to be quite expensive for a lot of people. I think the way op-shopping has risen throughout the years is one of the best, affordable ways to contribute to fighting against the fast fashion industry. According to Sheridan and Moore, “Fast fashion” – the term used to denote among other things, the strategies that Retailers adopt in order to reflect current and emerging trends quickly and effectively in current merchandise assortments”(2006. p. 301). Fast fashion is known to almost recycle high fashion from the runways, to make it more accessible to the general public. who want to feel included in the new trends. But this can in a way diminish the authenticity of these trends.

    In regards to the way in which Instagram is used in the fast fashion business, to promote brands, the ethical and sustainable fashion industry is doing extremely well. Most ethical fashion influencers on Instagram will use their own identity to promote their brands. This makes it so much more relatable for followers and creates a big amount of trust between the customer and the provider.

    Hope you have a great day!



    Mandy Sheridan, M.,Metropolitan University, Christopher Moore, M.,Metropolitan University, & Karinna Nobbs, M.,Metropolitan University. (2006). Fast fashion requires fast marketing: The role of category management in fast fashion positioning. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, 10(3), 301-315. doi:

  3. Hi James, this was a very thought-provoking paper! I agree with many of the points you make, especially on how Instagram has democratised fashion journalism, allowing influencers to contribute to the flow of information from the fashion industry, rather than simply traditional fashion publications. This has helped spread new ideas and trends that were previously not accessible when information was controlled by gatekeepers. I believe this has had a positive effect on identity by encouraging people to be more experimental with fashion, and because fashion is a key part of identity, their identities. However, considering many Instagram influencers are now paid to promote certain brands, is this once again controlling the flow of information in the fashion industry and confining identity?

    I have written about a similar subject, how Instagram celebrities encourage the formation of feminist identities. Please check it out if you have time! Here’s the link:
    Thanks again for the great read!

    1. Yes! You are so right, I have read many papers on how influencers have went from the independent consumer watch dogs of the industry to the new paid voice for fashion elites. While fashion has seen so many great developments since the rise of fashion influencers, we have once again created another gate which is halting the flow of vital information for consumers. It is a unfortunate as their are two sides to the influencer paid promotion argument, first being; influencers owe it to consumers (and their followers) to be as transparent in their business partnerships as possible in order to keep both brands and the influencers themselves accountable, however, the second argument is being an influencer is no longer a hobby and so consumers now have to be more diligent in their viewing and should take all posts they see with a grain of salt – being an influencer is now a job and a competitive one at that so the pressure they feel to take brand deals is not always one out of pure ethical choice and rather one that keeps their bills paid (it can be argued that their lifestyle and salary is definitely well above the necessary level for standard living but many jobs also have extremely unjustifiable salaries). So I feel that if collectively consumers, followers, influencers and the industry itself show a strong interest in the push for more sustainable practises we will see a greater industry reform. Until no one wants to buy FashionNova, FashionNova will continue to produce cheap clothing.

      The disclosing of sponsored ads is very muddy when it comes to influencer marketing and has created a very untrustworthy perception of the posts we see which has both negative and positive repercussions; positive being, we are now more weary of posts we see centred around brands and assume that it is more than likely a paid post, also with the inclusion of the #ad on post captions. This #ad inclusion while at first glance a very useful standard for advertised posts, there is very little policing of this standard and is usually only incorporated into fast fashion branded posts (due to their large reach and already high level of scrutiny they receive) while luxury brands are more secretive in their disclosure (as #ad may “tarnish” their luxury brand identity), often disguising their garments as “gifts” with no real evidence that the garment must be posted online in return, however there is a strong implication that the influencer should post the item or they run the risk of no longer receiving these “gifts”. This has created a misconception that brands like FashionNova, BooHoo and Pretty Little Thing are taking a more responsible approach to influencer marketing and that luxury brands are still holding on too tightly to their elitist identity (which is not entirely untrue).

      I hope that as a collective we are all able to reform all levels of the fashion industry from sourcing down to purchasing, and this will be achieved through the continued efforts of consumers, influencers and the industry to make better choices and to push each other to stay accountable. Thank you for reading my paper and I am excited to read your paper too!

  4. Hi James,

    I really enjoyed reading your paper as it put into words what I have been feeling for so long. Seeing Instagram influencers and fast fashion brands rise to fame has never sat quite right with me. Seeing how impressionable and unquestioning their followers were, again raised issues with me as these people were more focused on the social value found in clothing with little regard for the sociological or environmental impact.

    Your example of Ground Cover was interesting, but I feel raises an equally important point. As you say, influencers “detach themselves from the traditional fashion community that is largely focused on the promotion of unobtainable brands”, but sometimes sustainable clothing brands can yet again become unobtainable. The high prices can alienate consumers and instead turn conscious fashion into a method of conspicuous consumption (Ramchandani & Coste-Maniere, 2018). Charging these high prices is exactly why people turn to fast fashion retailers, because it is cheap, and they will not have lost as much money when the style trends change again the next week. What are your thoughts on this, do you think fashion can find a middle ground between sustainability and affordability? Will second-hand shopping grow to fill this void, or does this bring along even more issues (Fashion Roundtable, 2020)?

    I think it is the consumer’s mindset that must change first before their behaviour does, they must adopt this slow fashion ideology first by dropping the ‘weekly trends’, and the best way to do this is through education. In this regard, I do agree that influencers should take more accountability as they are the ones with the power to alter public opinion and change the future of modern fashion practices.

    My paper is also within the identity stream, but honestly nothing to do with this topic, I just found your paper really interesting. I wrote about digital death if you want to check it out .


    Fashion Roundtable. (2020). The gentrification of thrifting.
    Ramchandani, M., & Coste-Maniere, I. (2018). Eco-conspicuous versus eco-conscious consumption: Co-creating a new definition of luxury and fashion. In S. S. Muthu (Ed.), Models for Sustainable Framework in Luxury Fashion (pp 1-10). Springer.

    1. Fashion experiences one of the strongest trickle down pulls in an industry where brands and trends start at the high fashion level and are passed through the tiers of quality and price, it is unfortunate to see the price of some sustainable brands be so high that it has started to become in itself a status item. Brands like Ground Cover have been extremely open in their manufacturing process and have remained transparent in why their pricing is so high. Brands like Staats Ballet and Ground Cover have struggled to keep prices down as their volume of orders are lower than say Nike, their manufacturing costs in turn become a lot higher, however, I believe that their is becoming a strong current in the community of consumers pushing brands to try harder in their efforts to minimise their ecological and sociological impacts.

      The Business of Fashion (a fashion online publication) releases a yearly Sustainability Index (The Sustainability Gap: How Fashion Measures Up, 2021) which outlines the performance of the top 15 brands (many are parent companies and represent ore than one brand ie. LVMH: Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Celine etc.) and rates them based on a multitude of factors. This has become an increasingly popular report and gives an accurate run down on the state of fashion. There are limitations however, Business of Fashion, while very popular within the fashion community, is relatively unknown to the average consumer – this is where I think influencers can use their platform for good, many fashion influencers have connections to the Business of Fashion and attend their events and have done interviews for the publication so they are aware of its existence, their support for the index and for the continued support for a more sustainable industry could do great things for the education of the average consumer.

      There has been more R&D (research and development) into fabric construction, material engineering and recycling processes by many high fashion brands in recent years, brands like Alyx are continually researching solutions for better garment creation, this while remaining largely unobtainable could shift manufacturing demand for sustainable materials and manufacturing processes which in turn would drive down mass production costs for sustainable clothing as a whole for the industry (Kunz, May and Schmidt, 2020).

      Second hand shopping is one of the key trends identified over the past couple of years and is steadily increasing, part of that (which has helped greatly in changing perception around second hand) is the idea that second hand offers great options for a more unique and individual personal style, this has helped alter the stigma that “high fashion consumers” have toward buying second hand which has led to consumers who already shop second hand and vintage to have a wider audience to showcase their conscious shopping habits. This second hand or “vintage” (as it is branded for the higher tier consumer) has led to a trend in people actively incorporating new and old garments into their wardrobe as it is not illegal to buy new things nor is it bad to want new things, however, maybe we should all be aiming to have 1 new garment in our outfits while the rest remains our old, and trusty quality clothes that offer individuality and peace of mind that we are making better choices. As a fashion enthusiast myself, I have always reinforced the opinion to my friends who are less involved that vintage is really cool and should be something to spend your time looking into as buying second hand is just as important as sustainable purchases. I can confidently say that you can have an amazing sense of style with only purchasing second hand, even if you have an expensive taste, I myself have bought many designer second hand pieces and because of their designer quality I am confident in their ability to remain good quality for many years to come (even if the item itself is already 10 years old).

      All though being in the fashion community I see so many of the negatives as I feel responsible in being apart of the change I so badly want to see, talking with many people outside of the community I am starting to see a positive opinion change toward sustainability and even my least fashion inclined friends are very conscious of the quality and sustainability of the clothes they wear. I am becoming less pessimistic of the state of fashion and am sure we will see big changes in the way the industry operates over the next five years.

      I am very interested to read your paper, and thank you greatly for the time you put into your comment! Thank you!


      Business of Fashion Sustainability Index, 2021. The Sustainability Gap: How Fashion Measures Up.

      Kunz, J., May, S. and Schmidt, H., 2020. Sustainable luxury: current status and perspectives for future research. Business Research, 13(2), pp.541-601.

      1. That is such an important point you raise about the fashion industry being subject to this ‘trickle-down effect’. I think we so often wish these changes to come faster, be that a trend or sustainability produced garments, that we forget that it’s just not possible right from the start for all the kinks to be ironed out, and the products to be accessible for everyone. Brands like Ground Cover are absolutely a step in the right direction, and I’m sure in time their products will become available to more customers, and the consuming of sustainable items as a status indicator will hopefully lessen as it does so, to just be seen as ‘normal’.
        I haven’t heard of the Business of Fashion report before, but it sounds like such a valuable resource. I find that it can be hard to find reliable sources, that aren’t just opinion based, when it comes to fashion and sustainability, so it would be great to see a report like this get more awareness from consumers. As you say, this is the ideal opportunity to utilise the power of influencers by having them promote it, especially if they are already familiar with it. If they can help normalise and bring attention to this better approach to clothing, then I too believe that we could see a real turnaround in terms of consumer education and behaviour.
        In terms of second hand shopping, I definitely think it is a balancing act between buying new and vintage to ‘wean’ people away from their fast fashion spending habits. I love what you said about “aiming to have 1 new garment in our outfits while the rest remains our old”, because that really is the ideal mind set to come out of second hand shopping. Not to redirect existing fast fashion habits (of buying lots of clothing at a cheap price to wear once and throw away) onto a new format such as second hand shopping, but to invest in durable and old pieces as well as the occasional new garment.
        I think it is up to us as consumers within this industry to try our best to spread the word about sustainable alternatives and change these ingrained fashion mindsets. I am also gradually seeing this shift and I look forward to the possibilities of where the future of clothing might go from here!

        1. The world often waits till it hits a critical point before big change occurs, everyone on earth has to be aware even to the slightest degree of the state the earth is both ecologically and sociologically and fast fashion and designer brands will have no market if there is no one left on earth to sell to. While this sounds a little worrying, it shows that while fast fashion has an alarming impact currently, there is a shift in opinion manifesting, more so now than ever. Consumers are now gaining enough momentum and they are understanding the power they hold to make change, which probably worries fast fashion brands, influencer marketing is their last effective way of selling these garments which if evaluated based on almost any factor offers no real benefits passed trendy relevance. Now influencers are looking to smaller creators and people with much more unique and conscious styles as they have a cool factor that is being lost in fast fashion. It is really great to see! I hope for the benefit of everyone, we are able to move toward a much more unique, creative and conscious world!

  5. I would have loved to write much more on this topic, I wanted to give a strong enough contextual background on the effects of the industry while still showing the progression of influencers in the fashion community and would have loved to go more in-depth on the newer more promising influencers in the space. Would love to discuss some of the topics and hear what others have to say, do you agree that influencers should take more accountability or is it up to followers to make smarter purchasing decisions?

    1. What a great paper James. I do agree, influencers should be accountable for the content they post. However consumers must also be more aware and take responsibility for their choices. The environmental impact of fast fashion is very concerning. Hopefully with a greater awareness of the environmental impacts of fashion, people will choose more sustainable trends in fashion

      1. I totally agree, influencers have such a valuable platform and whether they like it or not, they represent a large audience within the community, their actions will directly influence countless other consumers and so they have some level of responsibility to uphold. Their is a rising trend in people becoming more conscious of their purchases, many stores are highlighting their support for more sustainable business practices ie. “Better Cotton Initiative” which is now being employed to many items sold in K-mart, Target, Cotton-On and other Australian retailers.

    2. Hi James!

      What a great paper, I found it highly interesting and engaging, great job!

      I find your question an interesting one and I am not exactly sure if I have a direct answer. I believe in some way it is both the responsibility of the consumer and the influencer. I just believe that due to the influencer having the social following and power they will often be the one that ends up with the blame as in society today consumers like to blame others for mistakes made. Influencers should invest time into understanding a brand they are partnering with and their CSR before they continue. However it is just as much the consumer’s responsibility to invest the same amount of time into it too, as although the influencer has the following if the consumer did not purchase from them, then they would be encouraged to change their business techniques.

      Those statistics you mentioned at the start of your paper were confronting and I was unaware of the damages on the fast fashion industry. Influencers have a responsibility to show them wearing the same outfit on more than one occasion as through them only posting photos with different outfits it is encouraging this pattern of not re-using or re-wearing clothes, which I believe is a big driver in the fast fashion industry.

      I would love to know your thoughts on brands that are now including a responsibly sourced section in their website, such as Glassons. Do you think this will help the industry or is it just gimic?

      I would also love to hear your thoughts on my paper is slightly different to yours and discusses how users have experienced lower levels of depression when using Instagram.

      1. Hey James,

        Just building on Grace’s comment I found the statistics quite confronting too and I think this is where the influencer’s responsibility lies. They need to inform their followers.

        However, I feel with any major problem the blame somehow is always placed on the little guy when the large companies and governments need to actually make the change happen.

        Did you ever catch the ABC’s War on Waste with Craig Ruecassel, a couple of years ago in the first series, the third episode featured a deep dive into the effect that fast fashion as waste is having on the environment. It was really interesting seeing how much waste is ending up at charity centres and how completely overwhelmed they are. It was interesting to see how an act that is seen as charitable and kind is actually contributing to a waste problem and the real charitable act would be an entire cultural shift away from fast fashion.

        I would love to know do you think influencers really wield enough power to incite this cultural change, or will incentives have to come from big companies and governments?

        Thank you so much, Connor 🙂

        Oh and if you have the time read my paper it’s bloody brilliant

        Boylan, J (Executive Producer). (2017-2018). War on Waster [TV Series]. ABC.

        1. I actually am doing a class on fashion merchandising and we are tasked with working with Good Sammy on a project, when some of their workers came in to talk with us they had told us about the affects of fast fashion on their business and how even if these clothes are donated, due to them being designed not to last, they value to charity stores are very low and it contributes to the overall quality of clothes at charity shops going down. Which is very unfortunate as it means less fortunate people are being forced into purchasing these garments too. I agree that with these issues, it is always directed to consumers and their decisions however I think we all need to work together. Admitting that there is a huge issue facing all of us, allows us to all contribute to fixing the issue.

          I have began to see all areas from industry, influencer and consumer all becoming more aware of the fast fashion problem, which gives me hope that we will see many developments in this space, directed at reforming the fashion industry. We are hitting a point where if no changes are made there will be no future consumers to sell these products to so I’m confident in our ability to make change. We all just need to work on informing as many people as possible, to make fighting fast fashion brands possible.

      2. Yeah the statistics really are confronting, fashion is my main interest and so I take for granted the information I have gathered throughout my journey in fashion. If you are not in those circles there is lots of information being lost on many consumers.

        I believe that both sides should take the responsbility of learning more about a company and its practices, influencers are sometimes publicly held accountable which does help spread awareness and change the minds of some consumers however, it doesn’t seem to have lasting effects. This is an issue that will be solved best if influencers and consumers work together to change consumer needs, making fast fashion a much less appealing choice. We often think that our choices alone will not make change and without influencer support that may partly be true. Influencers are not trying to target people deeply within the fashion community and those people are not spreading information about fast fashion to people outside of these communities so there is a real disconnect on the flow of information.

        Sustainability has become a trend in fashion, many high fashion houses are exploring sustainability however, a common argument against that is, if you are creating full normal collections as well as a small sustainable collection you are still in turn creating large amounts of garments that even if sustainable, have some affect on the environment. The first step is definitely transparency and just like with Glassons, it is a good development in the industry. The Business of Fashion has been releasing a sustainability index yearly that ranks many top fashion brands on a multitude of factors, although, as mentioned by someone else in the comments, it is a report that unless you frequent sites like the Business of Fashion, will not likely reach many other people. It does create pressure for business though and likely will lead to further developments in sustainability and fashion.

        This is an issue that will take many efforts to solve, fashion is an industry that needs reforming at all levels from sourcing down to retail. This has allowed fast fashion to succeed as in order to end fast fashion many other issues have to be solved first. While it sounds pessimistic, I believe that many issues are slowly being addressed or at least are mentioned due in part to both consumers and influencers. I have begun to see many of my friends sharing info graphics and posts about fast fashion on their Instagram stories and at the micro influencer level there is trends beginning focused around thrifting, sustainability, buying less and buying better. Even designer brands are assisting in this consumer perception change by reducing the amount of fashion week shows, collection sizes and choices in marterials.

        With new technology, we are also seeing developments in supply chain transparency and tracking through companies like VeChain (VeChainThor Blockchain | Public Blockchain for Business Mass Adoption, 2021), who are using blockchain technology to provide supply chain solutions to large organisation including fashion companies, notably LVMH (parent company of Louis Vuitton, Givenchy and Dior) to solve issues of raw material tracking, supply chain management and other business functions (A complete list of VeChain partnerships |, 2021). These new technologies will ensure more transparency in business operations and will allow companies to make more conscious decisions.

        I am hopeful for the future and am confident that we will make the necessary changes needed to help the planet. Thank you for taking the time to read my paper, I’m glad you found some value in it!

        References 2021. VeChainThor Blockchain | Public Blockchain for Business Mass Adoption. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 May 2021].

        VeChainInsider. 2021. A complete list of VeChain partnerships | [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 May 2021].

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