Why More Big-Name Retailers Are Taking the Leap with Bloggers and Instagram Influencers

Chances are, if you’re an avid Instagram user, you’ve likely come across Arielle Charnas’ profile. The social media star managed to amass a following of 1.1 million, thanks in large part to an enviable shoe closet, impeccably curated feed as well as her popular fashion and lifestyle blog, Something Navy.

Of course, considering her classic yet effortless style chops, it was only a matter of time until the New York-based blogger launched her own label à la fellow influencers like The Blonde Salad’s Chiara Ferragni and We Wore What’s Danielle Bernstein. Instead, she managed to ink a partnership with a megaretailer.

Yesterday, Charnas announced that she has teamed up with Nordstrom to launch a brand of apparel and accessories under the Something Navy name. With the entrepreneur serving as the label’s muse, the collaboration marks the first time that the Seattle-based company has joined forces with an influencer to create a standalone brand — hot on the heels of last September’s project, a joint effort between Something Navy and Nordstrom’s in-house label, Treasure & Bond.

“After our collaboration last year, it was a natural choice to continue my work with Nordstrom,” Charnas said in a press release. “Through my career, I have been lucky enough to share my style and life journey with my audience. The Something Navy brand will be a reflection of my absolute love of fashion.”

But Charnas’ breed isn’t rare. Big-name retailers have progressively used Instagram influencers and bloggers to increase awareness and build their brands in the growing digital world. Joy Cho, with her 400,000 followers, monetized her creative outlet, now working as creative director on her whimsical Oh Joy! product line for Target, centered on home decor and children’s clothing, among other collaborative ventures. Boasting 609,000 followers on her personal page and 1.9 million through her Man Repeller business, Leandra Medine also lent her eclectic style to Net-a-Porter, debuting tongue-in-cheek statement shoes for her first footwear collection, MR by Man Repeller.

Digital superstars like Charnas have become a valuable tool for retailers that have long faced connectivity challenges when they seek to lure in millennial and Gen Z consumers. According to a September 2017 report by business research firm L2, an average of 70 percent of brands across benchmarked industries — 91 percent for luxury and 82 percent for retail — had partnerships with Instagram stars, fueling the rise of an influencer marketing industry that’s expected to exceed $2 billion by 2019.

Brands working with Instagram influencers
L2 Intelligence Report: Influencers, September 2017.

With their massive social followings and overall relatability, influencers may offer traditional fashion firms an opportunity to engage new audiences and portray what consumers perceive to be a more authentic image.

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