There’s a new hullabaloo in the plus size fashion world between an influencer and a major brand and accusations are flying everywhere. Who as a consumer can we trust to give us the best objective view?
Short answer is nobody- but I’ll get back to that.
Here’s the tea on the latest disagreement as I understand it.
Hannah, a popular TikTok influencer (about 225k followers) has been a long time critic of Torrid, one of the major plus size retailers. I watch the videos and yeah, she’s clear about her distaste of the items, but I found her to be as fair as you can be when criticizing a brand. After all, that’s what you want from influencers, right? The truth.
Allegedly someone called Hannah’s offline employer and tried to have her fired by accusing her of cyber bullying. She posted a new video crying about everything that had happened, Torrid’s CEO posted a poorly done statement on social and the plus size internet is in an uproar.
We all know I’m into the fashion world and have been blogging about plus size fashion for about ten years, but I’m also a business consultant and have a unique skillset that gives me a pretty good idea on how to properly handle these things, so if you’d like to read more about what I would have done, I’ll have a post up next week specifically tailored to brand PR.
For now though, I’ll answer the question that pops up the most.
Who do you know you can trust to tell you the truth about who and what to wear?
I said “nobody”, but of course there are people that give you the best chance.
Never trust a brand. I say that with my whole chest and as someone that has her own and creates brands for others. A brand is exactly that- an image. You can have good brands and bad brands, some more truthful than others- but at the end of the day, the brand is like a personality- a show- that is meant to drive a positive impact through emotional connection.
Businesses have come to the understanding that 90% of Gen Z expects the companies they work with to tackle social issues- that’s a real number. And while I whole heartedly agree that your brand should represent your values, there is a huge opportunity here to manipulate your audience. Emotional entanglement will always bring extra passion to the table. Things get messy.
TRUE absolutely has a brand, I have my own personal brand and if you think that I’ll sit here and post anything that goes against that, well, you’re wrong. I may use a negative and spin it to my favor, but any business or brand that let’s their mess out is only harming their bottom line. Business is business and always will be. You simply cannot expect a large company to tell you the ugly truth when they have bills to pay and a staff to keep.
Which brings me to influencers.
Companies found out that influencers were the new top marketing resource when it was still fairly new. When the first round of influencers came out, they were doing it as a passion, for fun, and for free but that changed within a couple of years.
Companies started to use and abuse influencers for their own gain. It started as free work, then maybe youd get some product- but influencers weren’t having it and as a group they started to make it very clear that being an influencer was their job and they were going to be paid for it if they were providing more value than traditional marketing sources. So now you have influencers as brands- and we talked about what goes on with brands.
If you want to consistently work as an influencer with the top brands, you don’t get the luxury of telling the truth. And if you consistently taunt them as Hannah did (even unknowingly) they will come for you or block you out. You are an advertisement now. I’ve seen top companies write up contracts with influencers that give specific scripts for videos and social media captions. You’re getting what the brand wants you to get.
And that’s not new. That’s exactly how media has worked forever. We’ve already tried to establish who we can trust in the media as a society. As a person, company or brand- I can pitch a story to the media and have it angled however I’d like for the most part. If I build my relationships with that media source, I can even provide the questions I want them to ask me.
So now that I’ve ruined everything for everyone- here’s the good news.
There are resources who you can trust.
I suggest small influencers (up to about 50k) and individuals that aren’t yet considered influencers- so that girl that just tries on jeans on IG with your same body shape but has like 10 likes. You just need more of them than one large source.
I even say mix it up- gather all information from all sources but know where their bias lies, then compare the stories to get closer to the truth. Too much work? Well, then watch me spin this into a positive for image consultants and personal stylists.
Image Consultants and Personal Stylists typically work across several brands and typically are not financially bound to anyone but their client. That changes a little at the highest levels, but it’s our job to do all this research on the industry happenings and put you in what works best for you but is also socially responsible if that’s something you’re looking for. At the end of the day, every source has their own bias- it’s just how humans work- so find someone that aligns with your truth as much as possible and isn’t significantly compensated with money or things and trust that you’ll get as close as you can.
(See how that works? It’s called piggy backing. Yeah, I want to share this information with you and I’ll always tell you my truth but brands that are excellent at what they do can use trending news stories to their advantage. I post a blog about this and Google knows that I’m on top of trends. The links in my article count more and have a higher chance of leading you back to my site. It’s business. Even I am a biased source. You have to take everything with a grain of salt.)