Over the last few months, it has become somewhat ‘trendy’ for fashion brands to gift celebrities their most powerful positions within their companies. Although this leap of faith creates many opportunities for the future of fashion, it opens the debate of whether a candidate’s worthiness of the role is based on their followers and likes, rather than their vital qualifications and experience. Will these celebrities serve as a strategic marketing plan or take advantage of the role to create much-needed change in the industry?
Since being crowned runner-up of Love Island 2018, Molly Mae Hague has become one of the leading influencers in the game. In the last three years, she has secured an abundance of brand deals and sponsorships up her sleeve. Levelling up, she took to Instagram recently to broadcast her debut as Pretty Little Thing’s new Creative Director. This announcement comes after Molly Mae curated three best-selling collections with the fast fashion brand, in the last two years. Despite Pretty Little Thing’s CEO Umar Kamani describing the bold move as a ‘natural fit’, many began to question if Molly Mae was the most appropriate candidate. Arguably, Molly Mae becoming Creative Director is justifying to her 6 million Instagram followers that shopping at fast fashion brands is acceptable, despite being extremely problematic and contributing largely to the global climate crisis.
Activist Gina Martin took to Twitter to encourage Molly Mae to utilise her new “influence, leverage and power to push garment workers to be paid above living wage”. Even though Molly Mae’s announcement gained 1.1 million likes, most people believe celebrities struggle to represent everyday people- arguably due to the increase of polished lives and airbrushed photos on social media. In a 2018 survey, it was found that 67% of GenZ-ers would prefer to see people they can relate to more in advertisements. It could be argued that giving celebrities’ powerful positions in the world of fashion fails to reflect what the people want.
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This month, it was announced supermodel Kendall Jenner was trading in the runway for a more powerful position in the industry. The supermodel has landed a major new job as FWRD’s first Creative Director. There is no denying the key influence the Kardashian/Jenner family hold on today’s fashion scene- highlighted by Raissa Gerona as she described Kendall as the ‘epitome of luxury fashion’. However, a heated debate recently rose on social media surrounding whether the 25-year-old could execute such a demanding role well. Despite founding her 818 Tequila brand, Kendall Jenner respectfully has no relevant business experience. Unlike the leading creative directors of the fashion industry, such as Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia and Off-White’s Virgil Abloh, Kendall Jenner lacks the relevant qualifications to perform well as Creative Director of FWRD. Has the industry overestimated the capabilities of celebrities and wrongfully placed the fate of iconic fashion houses in their hands?
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Whether the strategic move pays off or not, we should encourage brands to take these daring leaps of faith… just on the right people. With the world finally evolving in a more diverse direction, why is the fashion industry struggling to mirror this? Perhaps, fashion brands could offer these positions to emerging POC designers, to catalytically transform the industry. Many believe that employing influencers, like Molly Mae Hague’s and Kendall Jenner’s, is only a step backwards as it is upholding the mainstream stereotype that rich, white women are natural leaders of the fashion industry.