Influencer Owned Brands Taking The Fashion Industry By Storm
A version of this story originally appeared on Forbes.com
As fashion bloggers continue to assert their dominance as powerful influences over consumers, some of the top names in the blogging world have created their own capsule collections and clothing lines as a way of connecting with their followers in a new way.
We interviewed a few such bloggers about how they decided to jump into the clothing design game, their design processes, and why influencers might just be the next great fashion designers.
SIMPLY: Tell us a little bit about your capsule collection with J.O.A.
Chriselle Lim: I always find style inspiration from my travels, and during a trip to Rome last June, I fell in love with the rustic romance and colors of the city. Much like my personal style, I also wanted to create classic, modern staples and super stylish pieces that can elevate any wardrobe and be worn in many ways—whether on vacation, at the office, or dropping my daughter, Chloe off at school.
This line pairs both my style and J.O.A.’s forward aesthetic perfectly, so I’m really excited to be able to share it with my followers and Nordstrom customers to see how they make it their own!
SIMPLY: What was the design and collaborative process like?
CL: I already knew that it would be the right fit since I’ve been an organic and loyal customer of theirs, but once I met their team and went to their office downtown, it just validated that this was it. The team understood me, my style, and my vision as they’ve been following me for years now. There was a mutual excitement and passion between both parties.
SIMPLY: What is your favorite piece from the collection, and how would you style it?
CL: It’s so hard to choose because I love them all! I’ve been living in my dresses, specifically the Trench Dress that you can wear as a dress alone or open up as a trench coat and wear with jeans. I also love the Audrey Hepburn-inspired Roman Gold Quince Blossom Dress—the billowy sleeves and buttons make it so comfortable and romantic.
SIMPLY: How did you know that this was the right time to launch your own line?
CL: I have been thinking about launching my own line for a while now as I’ve been in the space with The Chriselle Factor for almost 10 years, and my followers have continuously asked me when I will be coming out with my own product. The only missing factor was finding the right partners. When J.O.A. approached us I knew it was the right fit as I was very familiar with the brand and felt comfortable with the quality and price point!
Shop Chriselle x J.o.a.
SIMPLY: Why did you decide to start SSO by Danielle with a line of overalls?
Danielle Bernstein, founder of SSO By Danielle: I saw a space in the market that I knew I could fill. A brand of just jumpsuits and overalls didn't exist and I myself, was an avid wearer of overalls since the creation of my blog. Most of the overalls I sought out were vintage and newer versions were always ill-fitting. I wanted to create a modern line of both jumpsuits and overalls that were form flattering and fashion forward.
SIMPLY: How has your status as an influencer helped make SSO such a success?
DB: Using my influence to promote my brand was really about the proof in the pudding. My platform and influence in the industry have been the sole marketing tool to generate awareness, interest and substantial sales for the business. We have also gifted pieces to other influencers and celebrities and in tandem with my self-promotion, we've generated impressive sales. Our goal is to now go beyond my following and resonate with an even wider audience.
SIMPLY: How do you see SSO expanding in the future?
DB: We will always maintain the original DNA of the collection but continue to introduce new fabrications and color-ways with top-selling styles. We are also exploring novelty styles the skew a bit more luxury. I am determined to convince all women that overalls are a wardrobe staple!
SIMPLY: What motivated you to launch your brand, ARE YOU AM I?
Rumi Neely: As far back as I can remember dressing myself, I've been beyond specific in what I wanted to wear. So being able to design my own continually evolving dream closet is a complete dream come true.
SIMPLY: What inspires your design aesthetic?
RN: ARE YOU AM I is an absolute expression of my personality and all of my moods.
SIMPLY: What’s next for you and ARE YOU AM I?
RN: I would love to expand into more categories and open retail locations in LA and New York.
SIMPLY: When did you know it was time to start your own line?
Shea Marie: Designing my own line was always a dream of mine; social media helped make it a reality. Being an influencer was never part of the plan, it was something that happened because I was doing the right thing at the right time, when the social media world took off. And I was a couple steps ahead of the curve.
Design and creative were always what I was passionate about, so as soon as I saved up enough money to fund my own brand (which is way more expensive than I ever could have imagined) I started working towards that goal.
SIMPLY: How did you decide to focus on swimwear?
SM: At first I was interested in so many different things. I was sampling different leather factories in Italy for about a year originally for handbag and footwear production. Meanwhile in LA, one of my closest friends was running the biggest swimwear factory, so I started sending him sketches of my ideas. It just took off and came to life so fast and so beautifully that I dropped all my other design projects to focus on Same.
I wanted to be respected and taken seriously in the fashion industry, and do high fashion, but at the same time I was the quintessential California blonde beach girl. So I combined those two things to create a luxury swim line, mixing my love of high fashion and life in California.
SIMPLY: Why do you think it’s a natural fit for influencers to start their own clothing lines?
SM: Being an influencer isn't enough—that can never be the end goal. You can use it to help you pursue your dreams and career goals, but there has to be a bigger plan. For me it was always about being a designer and a creative director. I also do photography, consulting and brand direction. I use my "influence" to promote all my different skills and projects, but being just an "influencer"—I'd be terrible at that!
Shop Same Swim:
What influencer brands are your favorites?