The Impact of Deinfluencing on the Fashion Industry

Find out more about the deinfluencing trend as we consider its wider impact on fashion.

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The latest trend sweeping social media seems to be the very antithesis of trends – deinfluencing. The hashtag has amassed some 270 million views on TikTok in the last few weeks alone. Today, we explore both the nuance and potential impact of this movement on fashion if it were to take hold long-term.


What is deinfluencing?

A concept that reportedly originated in the beauty community, deinfluencing flips the script on influencer norms by encouraging followers not to buy certain products. Amidst a constant deluge of recommendations users are in a continuous state of ‘ambient shopping’, so at its core, this is a welcome deviation.


There has long been concern that influencer recommendations are disingenuous on the basis that most influencers financially benefit from recommending products. Therefore, initially, deinfluencing was intended as a tactic to gain trust and help followers avoid scams and overhyped products, though it’s now being touted as the antidote to a whole plethora of problems.


Namely, drawing citizens awareness to consumption rates could encourage people to think critically about purchases.  In 2020 it was said that almost half (44%) of Gen Z has made a purchase decision based on a recommendation from a social influencer. This has likely only increased. When a concept such as deinfluencing hijacks the mainstream narrative, this could have profound impact.


The shortfalls of deinfluencing

For some, this trend quickly went awry and transformed into an opportunity to recommend alternative suggestions or ‘dupes’ in lieu of the forsaken products – curtailing any promise of sustainability. For fundamental change, deinfluencing needs to centre around buying less not simply buying alternatives.


The influence of deinfluencing

As paradoxical as it sounds, deinfluencing has the potential for great influence. If this phenomenon withstands the ever-elusive social media trend cycle and truly transforms approaches to consumption, it could have a ripple effect industry wide.


  • Waste colonialism and overconsumption  

The new #StopWasteColonialism campaign from The Or Foundation defines waste colonialism as ‘…the domination of land for the use of disposal, also referred to as a “sink” and this is quite visible in the context of Accra’s Kantamanto Market, the largest secondhand market in the world.’


It is a devastating consequence of the fashion industry and the direct result of the propensity of higher-income nations to overproduce and overconsume – both pervasive problems that are now culturally entrenched in structure of many societies.


Anything that can stifle these currently unabating rates of consumption and production could have real impact on clothing waste if it maintains momentum. Shifts towards more sustainable business models are no coincidence, but rather happen as a response to an ever-increasing demand for better practice from customers.


Though core solutions lie within comprehensive policy measures and brands carrying out business more responsibly, if citizens continue to pursue endless consumption at such rapid rates, brands benefitting from this system will be less motivated to radically reinvent businesses.


Whilst this may be an idealistic attitude towards a singular social media trend, deinfluencing could certainly spark conversations and movements that begin derail this bigger structure of overconsumption.


  • New models

If the industry is set to grapple with a new wave of influencers that are more authentic than ever with their recommendations, brands can no longer rely on financial incentive for promotion and products will have to live up to any hype. This could have significant impact on overall sales – data shows that 71% of US consumers want to back brands they deem to be authentic and the deinfluencing trend puts millions of products at risk of being portrayed as inauthentic. Insider Intelligence initially forecast that TikTok will account for most of the 5 million new US social buyers in 2023, but with deinfluencing taking hold, the research company stated that this is an apt time for marketers to re-evaluate their influencer marketing strategies.


This may encourage more meaningful collaborations, better quality products that are more durable but also could bring about entirely new business models. For example, with this uncertainty we could see brands moving towards more made-to-order approaches – a key manufacturing tool that could help to keep in line with demand and reduce fashion waste. This considered approach can also cultivate more exclusivity and desire around thoughtfully crafted products.


  • Supercharged Storytelling

The fundamental learning from this trend is the power of authenticity in communication. At Global Fashion Summit: Copenhagen Edition 2022, Willow Defebaugh, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Atmos, spoke to the topic of meaningful storytelling and shared: “Authenticity is always what’s going to reach people, and that comes from understanding how your personal story can help shape your unique perspective that you bring to the storytelling.”


In the same conversation, sustainable fashion blogger, photojournalist and labour rights activist, Aditi Mayer, provided insight into reframing of the term consumer: “We need to expand from framing civil society as purely consumers but citizens, how can you engage with one another in the community, focusing on organising.” Reducing people to their consumption habits not only places the onus on the accumulation of more, but also limits us to thinking in extractive ways.


Watch this conversation amongst an array of others in the Global Fashion Summit on-demand library here.


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