When brands realized just how much influence influencers really have, they jumped at the opportunity to collaborate. And the while the idea was right, the execution was often wrong. Brandy Melville, for example, became infamous for only taking aboard skinny girls to be the influencers for its “one size fits most” clothing. Now, as the template for the traditional influencer slowly unravels, brands need to pay closer attention to what consumers are actually looking for.
With 2.7 million TikTok followers and 1.1 million Instagram followers, Denise Mercedes (@denisemmercedes) might seem like your standard mega-influencer. In reality, she’s a body positive “fitfluencer” who materialized the consumer cry for size-inclusiveness with her idea to wear the same outfit as a traditionally “straight-sized” person to point out the fallacies in the fashion business. For example, in one video, Mercedes and her photographer don the same ASOS dress. While the dress looks great on both while they’re standing up, Mercedes demonstrates that a slight bend-over wreaks havoc on the look for her body type in particular. These errors are not only aesthetically-unpleasing and impractical, they also echo the skewed industry that still caters only to curveless bodies. To keep things fair, Mercedes also celebrates the wins from fashion brands that do get it right, like Aerie, AdoreMe, and even Abercrombie, which came under fire for its fat-phobic marketing in the past. The series, which they dubbed #stylenotsize, has since accumulated 225 million views on TikTok.
Brands that only look for influencers that fit their brand by body have the wrong idea. Not only are they closing themselves off to an entire audience, they’re also missing out on a massive sales opportunity. Brands like Nike, Athleta, and Abercrombie, are proof that inclusivity resonates especially well with today’s audience, even if it means failing a few times before getting it right. Audiences are still willing to give brands a chance, if they see change. Meanwhile, American Eagle took notes from its little sister Aerie, which leapt 31 spots in Gartner’s ranking, and is now reaping the rewards of inclusivity in sales.
Not only does the ideology apply to brands, it also applies to influencers. Despite her influencer OG status, Danielle Bernstein (@weworewhat) has found herself in trouble time and time again recently as a result of her photoshopped images that unrealistically cinch her waist, legs, and more. As a result, Bernstein, who owns her own brand, has had to turn off comments consistently on TikTok, despite being new to the platform, which is fast becoming known as the cutthroat cousin of Instagram and the voice of one of the biggest sets of spenders around: Gen Z.