The influencer space is booming, and a new generation of tastemakers are leading the charge in creating content that inspires and converts. With a nod to Instagram's "follow" button, we're excited to unveil our newest series, Follow The Leader. These interviews will deep dive into the stories of leading influencers who will speak more about the evolution of their journey and what they've learned about working on campaigns in their specific industry. For the first installment, we're honing in on the fashion industry and speaking to a key leader in the space - enter Alyssa Coscarelli (perhaps better known as @alyssainthecity). If you're style-obsessed, Alyssa is more than likely a top follow on your feed. When she's not working with brands like Lou & Grey, Marc Jacobs, and Net-a-Porter, she's penning shopping pieces as Refinery29's Senior Fashion Market Editor. Read on for more insights into Alyssa's experiences as a fashion influencer along with her best practices for emerging influencers on a similar path.
Tell us more about your evolution as an influencer and tastemaker. At what point did you start to recognize opportunities to monetize and work with brands?
My growth as an "influencer" has happened pretty organically alongside my career over the past couple of years. I think I started to recognize the opportunities once they started coming in — I remember being so excited to get an email from a brand wanting to work with me (and still do!). It's tough to remember, but I think one of the first brands I worked with was Milly!
Why do you think influencer marketing works so well in an industry like fashion and what do you think needs to be fixed or improved upon? How do you hope to play a role in these changes?
In the fashion industry, there's something that clicks about seeing something on someone else and wanting to wear it, too. There's that element of "If they can wear it, so can I." I think that has a lot to do with why influencer marketing works, as well as the aspirational side where people will feel they get closer to who they aspire to be by buying or wearing similar things that those who they aspire to do. Also, a lot of influencers know their audience (or at least, hopefully, they do!) and therefore can market to their audience what they know they want. Influencer marketing in fashion is a combination of inspiring and informing. As far as what needs to be fixed, brands need to know that an influencer's time, work, platform, and likeness do not come for free. I also hope brands continue to make an effort to work with diverse groups of influencers across race, ethnicity, size, sexuality, and beyond (authentically, not just to say they did and check off a box).
What are your top best practices and tips for influencers throughout their growth phase?
- First, stay authentic. When you look at someone like Eva Chen, a lot of why she's as successful as she is on the platform (in my eyes) is because she keeps it so real. People want to follow people, not robots or walking billboards.
- Next, be consistent. Whether to you that means a visual pattern or color palette, or just generally the content you put out, someone should be able to go to your page and know what you're about in a matter of seconds. Don't try to be everything to everyone.
- And last, interact with your community. Answer DMs, follow those you want to support, leave comments, and stay active on the platform. If you really want to grow, you can't really just post and be done with it. You have to stay present and interact with your audience and community.