Reflecting on the journey of fashion influencers, I realized with every innovation and trend there’s a consistent adoption cycle that resets and repeats itself. Influencer culture is no different.
Let’s rewind back to the era of early fashion bloggers, where no-name fashion mongers created digital personas via Blogspot, Wordpress, and even Tumblr. The curation was authentic, but the value for those visionaries was little at the time. Fast forward to now, where early adopters like BryanBoy and Chiara Ferragni from The Blonde Salad head influential fashion empires comprised of their inspiring style and transparency. Pragmatists have infiltrated Instagram and YouTube, and the rest of the early majority hope to get a big break while enjoying the perks of brand sponsorships. The authenticity of style curation have been replaced by “heartfelt” captions and posts ending with #ad.
Still, there’s hope.
In this instance of adoption, the late majority and laggards may be the last to accept the ideology of influencer culture, but their presence is most appreciated. They’re our sage influencers, dishing out life wisdom along with raw, unfiltered style. What’s best - advanced fashionistas are taking Instagram by storm.
These women defy society's assumptions of aging and call attention to the representation of seasoned stylites. Linda Rodin, who worked as a stylist for big names ranging from Madonna to Harper’s Bazaar, found herself the latest "It" girl at the age of 65. Even better, she has shared her love of dogs with the world and launched a product line of leash and collar sets. Fashion and dogs? #Goals
There are elements sage influencers possess that will outdo any young woman; it’s obvious. An envious wardrobe developed over the years, and the confidence of knowing what works best for your body and style. While I search endlessly for quality vintage finds, women like Grece Ghanem flaunt their chic outfits purchased 25 years prior with debonair. Sigh.
Not to mention the financial freedom. Baby Boomers, comprising most of the sage influencer category, account for 70 million people and 40% of the spending market. They're the largest segment of consumers and are ready to shop. With about $13 trillion to enjoy in retirement, 70% of all disposable income in the U.S. is attributed to the sage.
A picture is worth 1,000 words, but these sage posts come equipped with 113,703 likes, 1 million followers, a book deal, and a Barbie. Seems extreme, but well deserved for Iris Apfel, an "accidental icon." The modest role model began her career with Old World Weavers, an international fabric manufacturing company started in 1950 with her late husband, Carl Apfel. Throughout the years her extravagant accessories, grand style, and signature oversized glasses preceded her name, launching the "First Lady of Fabric" into the social media spotlight. The viral recognition landed Apfel her first cosmetic campaign with MAC - at the tender age of 90.
In the volatile, fast-paced fashion industry, we can learn a thing or three from 50+ trendsetters. Aside from class, with age comes sauce. Take Helen Ruth Elam Van Winkle, or Baddiewinkle, the spicy 90-year-old who has been “stealing ur manz since 1928.” Her confidence and challenge to the societal standards of beauty provide a sense of relief for what’s to come. "I lost my husband and my son, and I got tired of grieving, so I reinvented me," she says. You CAN wear that mini dress, show a little (or a lot) of leg, and hell, wear a crop top while you're at it.
Despite popular belief, sage influencers are relevant to Millennials and Gen Z. Winkle pulls in brand sponsorship from many outlandish designers and counts teens as her key demographic.
Our advice to retailers: in an age where consumers want authenticity, don't forget the influence that a sage shopper and influencer still wields.