About two weeks ago, Mali and I went to MRP’s big SS16 reveal, where the retailer had invited several digital fashion players to take a first look at their spring-summer offering.

It was lots of fun, I have to admit, and I can’t wait to get myself into their dungarees, lace and mesh tops, and a racerback crop top I am dying to unleash on the sartorially conservative, just to see how they react to my boobless self walking around with my flat tummy (you jealous?).

Anyway, beyond the clothes, something happened that made me wonder if I am just getting too old. Influencers surrounded us, and little old me kept referring to them as “bloggers”. How archaic?

Now, it’s not that I don’t know that it’s the season of the influencer (duh, I’m a trend analyst, it’s my job to know this), but I was struck by the fact that most of them are not even bloggers at all; just fashion loving kids with thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of followers on Instagram, especially. No one likes reading anyway, people are happy to just look at images, which makes you part of a minority I appreciate, should you have made it this far in reading this post. The hypervisual nature of today’s world is part of what’s genius about Snapchat, for example. Why read, if you can simply see?

The influencer marketing thing might sound like old news to many, but the truth is, you are perhaps used to reading a lot about it, and have been reading a lot about it in the media for a while now. But South African brands have only recently begun to understand how to go about it. It’s not a numbers game, as many have come to realise; it’s about people with a certain level of sway with their audience. Does the audience actually engage, or do tweets and things just sit with no likes, retweets, or interest, and such? Look, people have been known to buy followers, so the numbers game really is just a silly bet. Anyway…

I’d be telling one huge ass fib if I said I am familiar with most of the influencers who were at the Mr Price event, but turns out, many of them are well known, and I’ve been living under a huge ass rock in Cape Town for a while, not knowing who is who in the influencer zoo.

Being an influencer is tough work, guys, and these pretty kids spent a lot of the night snapping images, co-ordinating outfits and colours, being serious curators. Mali and I even started playing a game we called “Spot Influencers Influencing”, where we caught Snapchatty and Insta-rey moments in-between: someone posing or doing the Snap-twirl. Such fun! I so wish I had the patience to make sure the colours on my Insta are well co-ordinated. I’m way too messy and impulsive for that.

These days I am happy in black and white, and in the background, but it sure is fun watching first hand how the digital world is evolving, and how the players are doing what they do. It may seem like some sort of game, and easy to just pose and post, but trust me, influence’ing is no child’s play! In fashion, it takes careful styling, and perhaps looking silly to onlookers as you snap and stuff.

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By Sandiso Ngubane


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