Image credit: Jeremy Bishop

Sustainability is now regarded as one of the key factors influencing consumers’ purchase choices. Driving this movement is a new tribe of eco-friendly influencers, as Jenny Tsai, CEO and founder of Wearisma, discovers.

Jenny Tsai Wearisma

Influencers are using social media to inform and promote positive #sustainability messages. Sustainability content directly challenges the ‘throwaway culture’ espoused by the fashion industry – which fluctuates with each new season, supplemented by the concept of fast fashion encouraging fleeting love affairs with our clothes.

Still, the industry has fallen under increasing scrutiny for its detrimental impact on our planet – particularly in the wake of Andrew Morgan’s landmark documentary The True Cost, brazenly showcasing the damaging effects on our environment caused by the fashion industry.

Today, discussions surrounding sustainable fashion are more pertinent than ever. In 2018, 10 different UN organisations aligned to establish the UN Alliance on Sustainable Fashion – a call to action aimed at the fashion industry calling upon business-leaders to readdress production and manufacturing methods in an attempt to decrease the size of the shadow cast over the planet by the fashion industry.

In our day-to-day lives, we are seeing more and more messages of eco-conscious living via social-media feeds. The internet has always acted as a mirror to the issues afflicting the planet. In many ways, socially savvy sustainable influencers are the champions defining a new era of online marketing, and their messages about environmentally friendly living speak directly to digitally native millennials. As a result, this tribe of eco-warriors are proving to be particularly powerful advocates for change.

With the influx of eco-fashion in luxury and a shift in attitude from many larger brands, the industry’s digital-marketing tactics have begun to change, providing the opportune moment for sustainable influencers.


Luxury Becomes Sustainable

Some major luxury labels have already embraced the renaissance of environmentally conscious goods. Undeniably spearheading the charge is Stella McCartney, who remains a long-standing voice for sustainable and cruelty-free fashion. In addition, the launch of Gucci’s Equilibrium online platform last summer showcased the brand’s pledge for sustainability while emphasising the importance of working collectively to build a better, healthier planet.

Last October, Louis Vuitton proudly received the Positive Luxury award for its innovative pursuits of sound social and environmental practices, and Burberry has pledged to stop destroying unsold clothes.

Luxury fashion still holds prestige – but no longer purely because of the high price tag attached to the fabric. Consumers seem to be increasingly investing in luxury fashion thanks to the increasing transparency into the provenance of materials used, the ethics involved in the manufacture of the clothing, and the environmental practices espoused by the luxury brands.


Wearisma’s Ones to Watch: Sustainable Champions

The expansion of socially conscious messaging permeating social-media feeds has run in parallel with the growth of what we refer to as the ‘sustainable influencer.’ Our latest white paper unveiled the key influencers challenging the status quo of the luxury market, including Niomi Smart (@niomismart) and Susanna Lau (@susiebubble) – two influencers interviewed by reporter Stacey Dooley for a BBC Three documentary uncovering the impact of the clothing industry on our planet.

Clearly, brands are looking to leverage influencers in order to help promote the sustainable messages they wish to project. Equally, celebrity model, mega-influencer and ‘environmental game-changer’ Anja Rubik (@anja_rubik) was tapped as guest editor for Porter’s Summer Escape issue; and international model Ming Xi (@mingxi11), who shares McCartney’s vision, was chosen as the face for the brand’s new sustainable collection for Adidas.

A fresh crop of other influencers, including @crueltyfreebecky, @liviavanheerde and @emaiswonderful, are also beloved across social media and admired for promoting the core values of sustainable living in their ethos.


Investing in sustainable influencers

This new breed of sustainable influencers should be on the radar of luxury brands for a number of reasons. For one thing, the new phenomenon labelled ‘cause marketing’ – actively tying your brand’s image to an important issue – is a key way to target millennials. In our digitally lead society, most discussions on important issues arise online – and influencers are the kings and queens of these discussions.

The influencers at the forefront of conversations on sustainability also double as exceptional role models – promoting low-impact, healthy lifestyles and advocating for social change across an array of critical issues.

Luxury brands can still maintain their exclusivity by leading the way in ethical pursuits. But ultimately, using sustainable influencers for luxury delves much deeper than merely showcasing a positive brand image. Luxury brands will be able to promote a highly inspirational message to the world – this creates a much richer and rewarding marketing campaign overall.