TikTok and Instagram, new vectors of promotion of a more responsible fashion? On these networks, temples of unbridled consumption, influencers of the global society that work against the current are trying to promote clothing choices more respectful of the planet.
Starting with Masego Morgan, who fell off her chair when a fast fashion giant offered her $1,000 for a single promotional post.
Not only the South African influencer, with 10,200 followers on Instagram, had never been offered such a sum to promote a brand, but the latter represents everything she fights: the overconsumption of cheap clothes, harmful to the planet and produced by underpaid workers.
Like other international influencers determined to fight the armada of brand-sponsored posts on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube, her credo is simple: buy, ok! But less. And better if second-hand or ultra-durable.
A philosophy inherited from her childhood, when she borrowed second-hand clothes from her elegant mother, who saw recycling as a "revolutionary act"."For me, there has never been a stigma attached to wearing second-hand clothes," she tells AFP from her home in Cape Town.
This advocate of "responsible consumption" stands out from the usual fashion posts with playful, non-guilty posts full of colorful, recycled and handmade items that she wears multiple times."If we do the same thing as the fashion influencers" who parade new clothes on video every day, "we'll end up with the same toxicity," she believes.
But this choice has a downside: it is impossible to make a living with sustainability-oriented content. While a typical influencer in a developed country can earn a six-figure annual salary from sponsorships and affiliate links, Masego Morgan has to work in graphic design on the side.In recent years, social networks have become extremely important for brands that previously relied on print or TV ads for marketing.They can now reach millions of people through influencers who promote their clothes in stories or #outfitoftheday posts.These campaigns boost sales: in 20 years, global consumption of clothing, shoes and accessories has doubled.But this comes at a high price for the planet. The fashion industry represents between 2 and 8% of greenhouse gas emissions.
All these messages have contributed to the emergence of "new fashion influencers" more concerned about the environment.
Among them, Venetia La Manna, a 33-year-old Briton with 197,000 followers on Instagram, whose "Recipe for Disaster" video series on the social and environmental damage of companies such as Adidas, Amazon and Nike has been a huge success with about 6.5 million views.
"Agents of Change"
In the last five years, I really feel like the issue has emerged," with fast fashion joining "plastic and food at the heart of the debate," notes La Manna. These influencers are "agents of change," says Simone Cipriani, founder and director of the Ethical Fashion Initiative and president of the United Nations Alliance for Sustainable Fashion. "They counter the negative influence you usually find on social networks, where they just advocate over-consumption," she adds.
Especially since, at the same time, the second-hand market continues to grow: its sales are expected to reach $218 billion by 2026, up from $96 billion in 2021. A player like Vinted has seen the number of its users almost double in three years, from 23 to 45 million between 2019 and 2022.
More and more influencers want to show attitude. Awareness of sustainability has long been pronounced among content creators and their followers and is growing day by day.
Even if the war in Ukraine and other global crises often push climate change and its consequences out of the top news: The topic of sustainability moves and affects us all today. The increasingly clear effects of climate change are making it more and more urgent - heat waves, droughts, forest fires, water shortages, species extinction, to name just a few of the most serious consequences. And they are also driving the economy forward.
Influencer marketing has changed as a result and can make a considerable contribution to anchoring the sustainability messages of politics and companies more deeply in the broader society and arise more awareness concerning the Sustainable Development Goals and its due date.